Water Crisis

Manav Kothary

When hazardous substances—(often contaminants or microorganisms) contaminate a body of water—deteriorating its quality and making it toxic, it is called water pollution. Pollutants typically cause major water quality degradation around the world. Globally, the most prevalent water quality problem is eutrophication[i], which substantially impairs beneficial uses of water. When contamination originates from a single source, it’s called ‘point source pollution’. For example, effluent discharged by a manufacturer, oil refinery, or wastewater treatment facility, as well as contamination from leaking septic systems, chemical and oil spills, and illegal dumping.  Non-point source pollution refers to contamination derived from diffuse sources. These may include agricultural or stormwater runoff or debris blown into waterways from land.   Generally caused by human activities[ii], water contamination is a common issue that endangers our health. Every year, unsafe water alone kills more people than the all kinds of violence clubbed together. Our supply of potable water is limited, with less than 1 per cent of the Earth’s freshwater being accessible. Without action, the challenges will increase by 2050, when global demand for fresh water is expected to be one-third more than it is now.   Yet, while we all know water is crucial for life, we trash it anyway. according to the United Nations, more than 80 per cent of the world’s wastewater flows back into the environment without being treated or reused. In some underdeveloped countries, the figure tops 95 per cent. By 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. 785 million people lack even a basic drinking-water service, including 144 million people who are dependent on surface water. About 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water, and 600 million faces high to extreme water stress[iii] India is suffering the worst water crisis in its history. Worsening condition water shortage for farmers, households and industry threatens the lives and incomes of hundreds of millions of Indians, and the economic growth of the country.

On an average, a rural woman walks 5kilometres-20kilometres each day to fetch water. Women in rural India are the most vulnerable to India’s water problem, with the whole responsibility of supplying water for the household and the farm taking a massive toll on her health and wellbeing.

The Madras High Court issued a verdict on a petition[iv] filed by 75 drinking water bottlers challenging the 2014 Tamil Nadu water restrictions:          
‘Groundwater is the foundation of India’s drinking water and irrigation schemes, and companies who mine it for profit without permission are committing fraud and illegal “theft,”’

The order has sparked the debate about the city’s reliance on water tankers and bottled water, particularly because Chennai’s government has yet to come up with alternatives.

Water supply to those in needs would necessitate improved rainwater collection and storage, as well as well renovation – not just more delivery tankers. A rational thinking solution is expected to avert day zero, like:

  • Drives for the construction of water harvesting traps, rooftop and search dams.
  • Encroachment removal and tank desilting to expand storage space.
  • Obstructions in the drains that carry water from catchment areas must be removed.

Recently, the National Water Mission (NWM), Ministry of Jal Shakti in collaboration with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan (NYKS), Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports have launched the ‘Catch the Rain, When it falls’ Awareness Generation Campaign.

The aim of the mission is-

  • To encourage all stakeholders to build Rain Water Harvesting Structures (RWHS) that are appropriate for the climatic conditions and subsoil strata in order to store rainwater.
  • To mobilise people at local and state levels by successful campaigning and Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) initiatives in order to carry out the programme.

Steps Taken for Water Conservation:

  • Jal Kranti Abhiyan:

Attempts to revolutionise villages and towns by implementing block-level water recycling systems.

  • National Water Mission:

Via integrated water supply production and management, the aim is to save water, reduce waste, and ensure more equal distribution both across and within states.

  • Jal Shakti Ministry and Jal Jeevan Mission:

Jal Shakti Ministry was formed to address water issues critically.

By 2024, the Jal Jeevan mission strives to supply piped water to all rural communities.

  • Jal Shakti Abhiyan:

In July 2019, a drive for water management and water protection in the country was launched.

Over the years, James Wescoat has seen India increase its commitment to providing clean water coverage nationwide. The goal is nothing less than achieving sustainable water coverage for the 900 million residents, and thanks to breakthrough thesis research by Marianna Novellino SM ’15, we are closer than ever to monitoring and evaluating water systems at a large scale.

The right to water and sanitation was declared a constitutional right by the United Nations General Assembly in 2010. For personal and domestic use, everybody has the right to adequate, constant, clean, reasonable, physically available, and affordable water.

   Year    Reason for happiness (after paying of money by different generation)
    1. 2021      Coming out of a cinema hall, updating status “Extremely Long time no see!”- feeling happy with XYZ and 100 others.
   1.(f) 2100    Coming out of water-hall, “Long time no drink”- feeling relieved with XYZ and 100 others.
    2. 2025      Coming out of a car showroom, “New BMW!”- feeling sporty with fiancée and 30 others.
   2.(f)2110    Coming out of a water showroom, “New Jug!”- feeling complete with fiancée and 30 others.
    3. 2031      Coming out of a real estate office, “New Bungalow, ka deal hoo gaya!, Ab bas mere name hoo jayea.”-feeling settled only with spouse and the members of my family.
   3.(f) 2131      Coming out of a real water office, “New Paani k bottle, ka deal hoo gaya!, Ab bas mere name hoo jayea.”- feeling #goal-achieved with no other.
   (f= future)    Paani ka mahatwa samjho ge nahi toh bacchaoge kya!

अप्स्व९न्तरमृतमप्सुभेषजमपामुतप्रशस्तये देवाभवतवाजिनः

अप्सु अन्तः अमृतम् अप्सु भेषजम् अपाम् उत प्रशस्तये, देवाः भवत वाजिनः

There is nectar in water, there is medicine in water. O sages, be quick to praise such excellent water. Water is life; it is also the basis of life. It is not possible to imagine life without water. This water expels the contaminated elements of the body through urine.

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” [v]

If wasting is inappropriate, let us eschew and abstain from doing it. A small step (subsequently step/s) can move a great rock.


[i] Eutrophication is the process in which a water body becomes overly enriched with nutrients, leading to plentiful growth of simple plant life. The excessive growth (or bloom) of algae and plankton in a water body are indicators of this process.

[ii] The most important water contaminants created by human activities are microbial pathogens, nutrients, oxygen-consuming materials, heavy metals and persistent organic matter, as well as suspended sediments, nutrients, pesticides and oxygen-consuming substances, much of it from non-point sources.  Heat, which raises the temperature of the receiving water, can also be a pollutant.

[iii] The government think tank Niti Aayog said. < https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/india-aims-to-provide-clean-water-to-all-rural-houses-by-2024-1549829-2019-06-16#:~:text=Modi%20is%20the%20chairman%20of%20NITI%20Aayog.&text=clean%20drinking%20water.-,About%20200%2C000%20Indians%20die%20every%20year%20due%20to%20inadequate%20access,citing%20data%20by%20independent%20agencies>

[iv] 75 M/S.Sarooja Agro Foods vs 4 The Chief Engineer on 3 October, 2018

[v] British poet W. H. Auden once noted

This article has been published by Manav Kothary, first year law student at Karnavati University (UWSL). Presently working as a contributing author at TBL.

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