Safe water

Two thirds of the earth’s surface is covered by water but 97.5 percent of this water is saline (oceans and sea) and not fit for drinking and other domestic purposes. Of the remaining 2.5 percent, only 0.5 percent is available for drinking and other domestic as freshwater sources found in rivers, lakes and as underground water. It was further noted that 40% of world’s population lives areas of acute water scarcity. UN Population Fund predicts that there will be acute of shortage of freshwater by 2050. About 3 billion people do not have adequate sanitation facilities, and 11,000 children die of water-related diseases every day. In India, one fifth of urban population and three quarters of rural population do not have access to safe drinking water unless there will be no integrated water management strategy. Rivers in India are dying due to industrial pollution, accumulation of domestic sewage, agricultural runoff, pesticides, sand mining, extraction of water and irrigation etc. Water scarcity, pollution and stress are the creations of modern India. Regular monitoring of groundwater (1996-2003) along the Chennai coast shows an alarming doubling and tripling of salinity levels. Fluoride is contaminating drinking water all over India whereas there is arsenic contamination in the groundwater of West Bengal. Overexploitation of groundwater in India is reported to be so acute in several regions of India subsequent to the depletion of ground water table in an alarming rate. The indiscriminate exploitation of groundwater has changed the hydro-geo-chemical environment of the aquifers and enhanced the toxic and chemical levels of water beyond the permissible limit, mainly fluoride, arsenic, TDS, nitrate etc. The direct health impact on these toxic chemicals in drinking water leading to the manifestation of various water-borne and water-related diseases. Government of India has reported that water-borne diseases have serious health implications due to high morbidity and mortality, and with potentiality of epidemics. Further, young children bear maximum of disease burden. India loses every year about 400000 children under 5 years of age mainly due to diarrhea. Eastern and western and the Deccan parts of India are among the worst water-stressed areas of the world whereas the rest of the country follows close behind. Once water was in abundance in those parts of India- Kerala, West Bengal and Chirrapunje- have developed acute shortage of water due to deforestation, which results in the silting up of rivers, thereby reducing their water-holding capacity. When a rain arrive or snow smelt, the water spills over and floods adjoining areas, causing as great devastation as a drought. On the second week of August 2018, severe floods affected the south Indian state of Kerala, due to unusually high rainfall during the monsoon season. It was the worst flood in Kerala in nearly a century. Over 483 people died, and about one million people were evacuated. Recently, a remarkable observation made by the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence, Government of India is that while the massive investment have been made by the Central and State Governments in India over the last 5 decade, morbidity and mortality due to water borne and water related diseases have not declined proportionately to the extent of increase in the availability of potable water supply. Water is nature’s free gift to life on earth and it has become a marketable commodity. Kerala is the only place in the world having highest density of open dug well (250 per and 50% of population used this as the only source of water for drinking. Doubts have been cast on the purity of dug well water through out the State of Kerala as per certain recent studies in Kerala. Recently, Centre for Community Health Research ( CCHR), Kerala in association with the Kerala Research Programme on Local Level Development (KRPLLD) conducted an in-depth investigation on the causes of drinking water contamination and its possible impact and implications on the health status of the people in Kollam (Kerala). Non-sanitary latrines, dumping of domestic wastes, lack of drainage facilities, proximity of dug wells and water sources, water logging environment, open defecation, lapses in drinking water disinfection and source protection were found to be the main causes of large scale contamination of drinking water sources in the study area of Kollam. .