[1. Indian Girl with Photo http://newglobalindian.com/index.php/environment/water-as-a-human-right]
» Background: India’s Water Crisis
In the beginning, India’s primary goals were economic growth and food security – not especially valuing water conservation. Even though India is surrounded by plenty of rivers and receives a great average of rainfall each year, it has a problem with water management and investment. Not only does it have a problem with water management, but India’s population is increasing exponentially, making it difficult to provide water for everyone. Another cause of India’s scarcity is the extracting of water from farmers. Because India is a huge grain producer it requires farmers to extract water with no cost, leaving a short supply of groundwater[7. India’s Water Crisis: Causes and Cures].
Even though India has one of the largest dams they are continuing to dwindle because of their finance and life span. There are many dams that were constructed 15 years ago are not following the environmental regulations. Because India’s dams are violating the regulations, it is affecting the communities near the dams, wildlife, and overall sanitation[8. Water Wants: A History of India’s Dams].
» Water & People
Water is important to the people in India in a variety of ways, expanding past consumption. The religious practices of Hinduism in India, for example, have a strong tie to water use, especially with the sacred Ganges River. The river is believed to cleanse sin from the dead, and liberate the cycle of life and death. Aside from this, the Ganges and other rivers are very important to the people of India, working as their cleanest and most readily available water sources, used for daily activities such as laundry[9. India’s polluted Ganges threatens livelihoods http://www.dw.de/indias-polluted-ganges-river-threatens-peoples-livelihoods/a-17237276]. India’s caste system generally determines who has access to water; needless to say, the lower end of the system has lesser access, and faces a plethora of issues with water.
[2. Photo: Ganges River http://www.flickr.com/photo_zoom.gne?id=3267702&context=set-781175&size=o]
» Water Laws
The Indian Constitution has been interpreted by the Courts to guarantee the right to clean water to all citizens. Under the Madhya Pradesh Irrigation Act of 1931, the majority of power over governing water is delegated to the states. The government has the power to regulate conflicts between the states and issues of shipping. As water conditions in India have become more dire, legislation to improve condtions have come about. In 1974, the Water Act was passed in an attempt to control water pollution. More recently, the 2012 National Water Policy emphasized that India should consider water an economic good in order to help conservation efforts.
» Water Supply
[3. World’s water scarcity. Map from UN: http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/scarcity.shtml]
The two main sources of water in India are rainfall and the snow-melt of glaciers in the Himalayas which becomes a part of the rivers flown in India. India has 20 river units: 14 major river basins and 6 river units which groups 99 river basins. Most notable supply is the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna basin which contributes 59 percent of the water resources. The rivers might seem satisfy the demand, but 97 million people out of 1.2 billion lack safe water. As depicted in the map, according to UN, large portion of India suffers physical and economic water scarcity. Despite the government’s effort to provide and distribute safe water, water demand is not met due to the rapid population growth and intensive water usage in the agriculture industry.
» Water Sanitation
It’s no secret that India has major concerns regarding sanitation. Only 34% of India have deficient safe drinking water. The main reason why water sanitation is lacking is due to overpopulation: the rapid growth of population is depleting their natural resources – especially water. Sewage and agricultural runoff are leading to contaminated water all around India, mostly in rural areas. Most people would question why India doesn’t have city water, but they do. The catch to the city water is that approval to use it is only given to residents who can provide proof of land ownership, leaving slum dwellers without the city water. According to a government census, one in every six India residents lives in a slum. This implies that over 15% of citizens cannot use that water.
Being 17% of the world’s population, over 700 million people in India have no access to a toilet; over 100 million have no safe water, [5. Wateraid.org] which makes sanitation extremely difficult. Over 21% of the country’s diseases are water related. Furthermore, only 33% of the country has access to traditional sanitation[6. Water In Crisis – India: Shannyn Snyder].
[4. Photo: Indian children wait for water http://designpublic.in/blog/a-new-approach-to-indias-water-and-sanitation-challenge/]