The dying water sources
A large population of the country does not have access to pure water, nor do they have access to the technology to make water clean. In such a situation, people knowingly or unknowingly are harming their health. The Sustainable Development Goal 6.1 also emphasizes universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water.
This is possible only when water conservation and harvesting becomes a basic duty and people start understanding the value of every drop of water. Industrialization, urbanization, increasing population and with the changing climate, the lack of clean water has also become an international problem.
Day by day the drying and getting contaminated water sources have affected humanity in many ways. It has adversely affected people’s health as well as environment and economy. Statistics show that unsafe water makes about a billion people sick every year. UNESCO’s World Water Development Report-2022 states that almost half of the world’s population lives in areas where there is a severe water crisis for at least one month in a year.
This report according to KT, India is the largest user of groundwater in the world. In fact, due to shrinking water sources and increasing water pollution, underground water is getting contaminated very fast. Drinking contaminated water also increases the risk of decreased immunity, reduced life expectancy and premature death. In this context, a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) states that a quarter of the total population of the world, or about two billion people, is compelled to drink contaminated water.
Regarding its danger, WHO says that contaminated water consumption increases the risk of dozens of diseases. Populations cursed to drink contaminated drinking water have to face cholera, typhoid, diarrhea, malnutrition, cancer, child and stomach related diseases. Since water is a universal solvent, it gets polluted easily.
Water mainly contains contaminants like arsenic, fluoride and nitrate, industrial and agricultural wastes, microplastics, medical waste etc. Copper, lead, chromium and radioactive elements etc can also contaminate water when it comes in contact with water sources and make them deadly.
Apart from this, untreated water also contains bio-contaminants such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. The chemicals, metals and micro-organisms present in the water pose a variety of dangers. The International Agency for Research on Cancer has identified arsenic as a cause of lung, bladder, heart, skin and kidney cancers.
The World Health Organization guideline in this regard is that the amount of arsenic in drinking water should not exceed 10 micrograms per liter. But the irony is that around the world fourteen Millions of people consume high levels of arsenic in drinking water.
Apart from this, lead is also a toxic pollutant, which contaminates water. The World Health Organization estimates that more than two billion people drink lead-contaminated water globally. Chromium is also one such element, which makes water contaminated and poisonous. When the amount of chromium in water exceeds twenty-five micrograms per liter, that water becomes toxic.
Consumption of chromium mixed water causes rashes on the body, kidneys and liver toxicity. There is an increased risk of diseases like anemia, sperm damage and anemia. Microplastics are tiny bits of plastic less than five micrometers in size that, being invisible, can easily enter the human body through drinking water or bottled water, and cause reproductive, immune dysfunction, obesity, and stomach problems.
Similarly, the common source of nitrates is industrial fertilizers can also lead to problems. Health is in danger when the amount of nitrate in drinking water exceeds ten milligrams per liter. Consumption of nitrate polluted water increases the risk of diseases like cancer. Pollutants are so finely dissolved in water that they are not visible to the naked eye.
The solid metals in water are detected by TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). It is seen as the amount of impure particles dissolved in water. According to doctors, water up to five hundred TDS is drinkable, but drinking water above this without filtering causes great harm to health.
However, due to lack of awareness and clean water sources, a large population is helpless to drink contaminated drinking water. Due to poverty and lack of information, those who are unable to face this situation, they become prematurely dead. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, more than three and a half hundred rivers in the country are moaning due to pollution.
The aquatic ecosystem of many rivers is on the verge of destruction due to being filled with pollutants throughout the year, putting them at risk of becoming biologically dead. In this context the famous river Thames of London can be remembered, which was declared biologically dead in 1957.
But after a long struggle of six decades, it was successful in making it pollution-free last year. The phenomenon of the Thames becoming biologically dead and alive is a great lesson for the global community, because not controlling water pollution leads to various side effects.
For example, due to pollution, the amount of oxygen in the water decreases, due to which the life of aquatic organisms becomes difficult. On the other hand, irrigation with polluted water leads to high concentration of contaminants in cereals, fruits and vegetables. They invite diseases and death.
On the other hand, water pollution also affects the economy. According to a World Bank report, the decline in water quality in the world reduces by a third of the potential economic growth in heavily polluted regions.
Clean water plays an important role in economic development. Its accessibility, while protecting citizens from water-borne diseases, increases their efficiency and also helps in economic savings, but also on the mechanism of cleaning water and cleaning polluted water bodies.
Billions of rupees are spent every year. Tourism activities are affected in polluted water bodies, causing a loss of one billion dollars to this industry every year. Due to water pollution, the physical and mental development of people is affected, due to which they are not able to develop as a mature human resource.
In this way water pollution has a negative impact on the national income. The truth is that a large population of the country does not have access to pure water, nor do they have access to the technology to make water clean. These people are harming their health. The Sustainable Development Goal 6.1 also emphasizes universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water.
As such, universal access to clean drinking water is an important practical aspect of realizing the Sustainable Development Goals targeted by 2030. However, this is possible only when water conservation and harvesting becomes a basic duty and people start understanding the value of every drop of water.
Despite three-fourths of the earth being water, only one percent of it is within our reach. Hence water conservation is to be taken seriously. At the same time, the habit of polluting water sources will also have to be controlled.
(The author is a retired Principal and is based in Malout Punjab)