By Vijay Darda | 25-11-2019
Political parties in Maharashtra are busy in politicking, neglecting graver issue of water
May be you are thinking that this week my column will be on the political situation in Maharashtra, which has become the focal point of debate in the country. I feel very upset when I think about and see how political parties are trying to pull the rug from under each other’s feet. After all, how long will they continue this cat and mouse game of power? The people discharged their democratic duty and expected the elected parties to form a government, but all the mathematics and logistics failed vis-a-vis hunger for power. At present, this cat and mouse game is in full play.
Then I thought what could be more serious a problem than that of drinking water? Therefore, I decided to write on this problem and thereby try to open the eyes of the system that is in deep slumber. Water is considered to be nectar in our country. There is nothing if there is no water! So, why there is so much neglect towards precious water? Why are our rivers, streams and lakes so dirty?
There are many countries in the world where you can drink tap water, for water from the public taps are pure and potable. The condition here is that we are getting contaminated supply of water from the taps. Interestingly, people are being made to pay for such impure water. After drinking such contaminated water, people are contracting a variety of diseases and have to spend a lot of money on the treatment of ailments caused by such toxic water.
Everyone knows that most of the diseases are caused by contaminated water. It is tragic to know that at least two lakh people die every year due to the consumption of contaminated water in this country. Against this, just imagine how many people must be taking ill! How serious have our governments been on such a critical issue?
When the Central government tested the quality of water in the metros and 17 state capitals across the country recently, a terrible picture emerged. Water from a total of 21 cities was tested and only Mumbai’s water met the criteria of Bureau of Indian Standards. The water of Mumbai will fail too if it is tested in accordance with the international standards.
However, samples of the water supplied in 17 state capitals failed to satisfy 10 of the total 11 parameters set by the Bureau of Indian Standards! Delhi’s water was found to be the most impure. Some of the other cities are less toxic! The most amazing thing is that no drastic action can be taken against the supply of contaminated water from taps because it is not mandatory to follow the standards.
Had anyone else said this, we might not have believed it. But the Union minister for consumer affairs, food and public distribution Ram Vilas Paswan, who released the report, has stated it on record. The question is, why has nobody noticed it yet? If the water for which people pay to government agencies is found to be contaminated, those responsible should be punished. But if there is no law, how they would be punished? This is an example of systemic negligence. Statistics show that only 30 per cent people in India have access to pure drinking water.
Actually people are forced to use contaminated water. Leave alone international standards, if we talk about Indian standards, every person living in rural area needs at least 40 litres of water per day and the one living in urban area needs 60 litres of water. This much water is not available. Therefore, people are forced to use whatever water they get. People who have the means use machines to filter the water, but what do the poor do? The poor have no option at all.
In the report released in 2018, the NITI Aayog had clearly stated that about 60 crore people in the country are facing severe water scarcity. According to the report, the requirement of the water will double in 2030. If ample of water is not available, every aspect of life will be affected. Even the gross domestic product of the country, i.e. GDP, may go down to 6 per cent.
On the other hand, about 70 per cent of our water has been polluted and this is the reason that India is ranked 120th in the list of 122 countries in the world’s water quality index. This situation has arisen due to prolonged neglect of water. Now all political parties should unite on the issue of water. Parties have indulged in a lot of political one upmanship and fought over loaves and fishes of power.
Time has come for all political parties to unite to provide clean and pure water to the common man. There is little time left. It will be too late if we do not gear up now. Irrespective of which government is in power, it is the responsibility of every government of the day to provide adequate and pure water to the common man of the country.
You must be wondering why at a time when the political leaders in Maharashtra are engaged in pulling the rug from under each other’s feet, I am raising the question of the quality of drinking water for the common man! Politics will continue, the power game will go on but the issue of pure and adequate water cannot wait as it is turning graver with each passing day.