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While climate changes owing to the depleting environmental conditions has plagued humanity, the effect has tricked down to groundwater-the major water supply source to many residents of the country.  The Narendra Modi led NDA government has informed the Rajya Sabha that the ground water is fast depleting. 

The figures presented by the Indian government poses a huge red flag to the future of drinking water int he country. The figures not only speak of the future of drinking water in India, it also says that we might have been drinking ‘poisonous’ water for a long time now. The data presented says that most of the districts, of almost all the states, of the country were found with excess amounts of toxic metals in the groundwater.

India had also been witness to severe water shortage during the months of heatwave that covered the northern parts of the country in May. 

Let's take a look at the data presented and what it insinuates

The numbers 

– In some parts of 209 districts of 25 states, the amount of arsenic in groundwater is more than 0.01 mg per liter.

– In some parts of 491 districts of 29 states, the amount of iron in groundwater is more than 1 mg per liter.

– In some parts of 29 districts of 11 states, the amount of cadmium in groundwater has been found to be more than 0.003 mg per liter.

– In some parts of 62 districts of 16 states, the amount of chromium in groundwater is more than 0.05 mg per liter.

– There are 152 districts in 18 states where more than 0.03 mg per liter of uranium has been found in the ground water.

Who is exposed to the ‘poisonous’ drinking water?

According to a document of the Ministry of Jal Shakti , more than 80% of the country’s population gets water from the ground. Therefore, if the amount of hazardous metals in groundwater exceeds the prescribed standard, it means that the water is becoming ‘poison’.

In the Rajya Sabha, the government has also given the number of residential areas where the sources of drinking water have become polluted. According to this, 671 areas are affected by fluoride, 814 areas with arsenic, 14,079 areas with iron, 9,930 areas with salinity, 517 areas with nitrate and 111 areas with heavy metals.

The problem is more serious in the villages than in the cities, as more than half of India’s population lives in villages. The main sources of drinking water here are hand pumps, wells, rivers or ponds. Here, water comes directly from the ground. Apart from this, there is usually no way to clean this water in villages. Therefore, people living in rural areas are forced to drink poisonous water.

How does the toxic water affect us?

According to government documents, at least 2 liters of water should be drunk daily to stay healthy. This means, if you are drinking even 2 liters of water everyday, then also, some amount of poison is getting into your body.

The amount of arsenic, iron, lead, cadmium, chromium and uranium in groundwater exceeding the prescribed standard has a direct effect on our health.

– Excess arsenic means increased risk of skin diseases and cancer.

– Excess iron can mean diseases related to the nervous system like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

– Excess amount of lead in water can affect our nervous system.

– High levels of cadmium increase the risk of kidney diseases.

– High amounts of chromium can cause diffuse hyperplasia in the small intestine, which increases the risk of tumors.

– Excess amount of uranium in drinking water increases the risk of kidney diseases and cancer.

Preventive measures of the government

In the presentation, the central government informed that the matter of contaminated water is a state subject and it is the responsibility of the states to provide drinking water to the people. The central government further informed that they are also running many schemes to provide clean drinking water.

On 21 July, the Central government had told Lok Sabha that the Jal Jeevan Mission that was launched in August 2019, will see to it that every rural household gets drinking water through taps by 2024.

They further informed that out of 19.15 crore rural households in the country, 9.81 crore households are being supplied tap water so far. 

Apart from this, AMRUT 2.0 scheme has been started by the central government in October 2021. Under this, a target has been set to supply tap water to all cities in the next 5 years i.e. by 2026.

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