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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

‘Only 10% of India’s dirty water is treated’

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, March 21, 2013
First Published: 23:48 IST(21/3/2013) | Last Updated: 02:21 IST(22/3/2013)

A UN report has described India’s water pollution situation as a “time-bomb” while praising social activist Anna Hazare’s village Ralegan Siddhi for using the scarce commodity in a rationale manner.

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In a stinging remark on water administration in India, the report says India is able to treat just 10 % of its city sewage and industrial waste discharge, the most polluting source for rivers and water bodies.

“Presently, only about 10% of the waste water generated is treated; the rest is discharged as is into our water bodies. Due to this, pollutants enter rivers, lakes and the groundwater,” the Unicef’s water situation in India – situation and prospects report said. 

The report also said the drinking water, which ultimately ends up in our households, is often highly contaminated and carries disease-causing microbes. And, its victims are mostly children. Government studies have shown that a major cause of under-five child mortality was water-borne diseases.

The report highlighted that water source for over half of the Indians living in two major river basis — Ganga and Brahmaputra — was highly contaminated. An evidence of that was rising number of arsenic-affected areas in Bihar and West Bengal despite the government spending crore of rupees. Situation in rich agriculture areas of India’s wheat bowl — Haryana and Punjab — is no better with high pesticide contamination.

The report said there was no model in India that shows best ways to tackle the waste water generated through the industrial and domestic sectors.

“The agencies responsible for checking industrial pollution have failed. Pollution contributes to water scarcity by contaminating freshwater resources,” the report said.

The only saving grace presented in the report was example of Hazare’s village. The report said there was evidence to suggest that employing certain management principles as in Ralegan Siddhi and Hiwre Bazar can improve water situation and check contamination.

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