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Water quality and water purification

RAS/RTS Prelims and Mains Exam Preparation

 

  • Safe drinking water is the birthright of all humankind – as much a birthright as clean air.
  • The majority of the world’s population, however, does not have access to safe drinking water. This is certainly true in most parts of Africa and Asia. Even in relatively advanced countries such as India, safe drinking water is not readily available, particularly in rural areas.
  • One reason safe drinking water is of paramount concern is that 75 percent of all diseases in developing countries arise from polluted drinking water.
  • Knowledge about how to make water safe for consumption is rare in most developing countries.
  • We simply must do a better job of raising public awareness and understanding about the nature of the problem and the technologies and strategies that are available to address it.

Background

  • Safe drinking water is a human birthright – as much a birthright as clean air. However, much of the world’s population does not have access to safe drinking water. Of the 6 billion people on earth, more than one billion (one in six) lack access to safe drinking water.
  • Moreover, about 2.5 billion (more than one in three) do not have access to adequate sanitation services. Together, these shortcomings spawn waterborne diseases that kill on average more than 6 million children each year (about 20,000 children a day). Water covers 70 percent of the globe’s surface, but most is saltwater.
  • Freshwater covers only 3 percent of the earth’s surface and much of it lies frozen in the Antarctic and Greenland polar ice.
  • Freshwater that is available for human consumption comes from rivers, lakes and underground sources and aquifers. Together these sources account for just 1 percent of all water on earth. Six billion people depend on this supply and a significant portion of the world’s population now face water shortages.

Ways to save and replenish

  • We must meet the world’s growing demand for freshwater.
  • However, we must do so with limited financial resources and with practices that minimize ecological disruption.
  • An analysis of the situation suggests that our goals can be reached. Experts have proposed a four-fold path towards a viable solution for making water both potable and safe:
  • Seek new sources
  • Save and redistribute supplies
  • Reduce demand
  • Recycle
  • Some of these approaches are global in nature, while others are regional, national, local and even family-specific.
  • These efforts will ultimately succeed only when we empower people with the knowledge and means to address the issue on their own.

Individuals and communities Role in Safe Water

Efforts need not be left solely to governmental and nongovernmental agencies. Individuals, families and communities also have a vital role to play. Such responsibilities include:

  1. Water harvesting at home, schools and community buildings
  2. Water recycling at the microlevel, including at homes, buildings and communities
  3. Saving water by ensuring taps and pipes are not leaky and by using optimum amounts of water for washing and toilet flushing
  4. Making sure that the water is purified by methods suited to family conditions and needs
  5. Maintaining proper levels of sanitation at home

Private industry and nongovernmental organizations role in Safe Drinking Water SUpply

Many countries – for example, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and Nepal – have active nongovernmental organizations that involve communities in the funding and implementation of programmes designed to transform arid and semiarid terrains into productive agricultural regions receiving sufficient amounts of water. Such efforts should be expanded by:

  • Exchanging information among and between industry and nongovernmental organizations on relevant and novel methods and strategies
  • Focusing on sociological factors that may have an impact on the most suitable technologies and programmes for a given region/ community
  • Ensuring equity in both services and benefits
  • Involving communities in all aspects of water harvesting, recycling, storage, purification and supply
  • Coordinating efforts among governmental and intergovernmental sectors for the purposes of achieving harmonious processes and results.

Various Initiatives by Ministry of Drinking Water

The National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP)

  • The National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) is a centrally sponsored scheme aimed at providing adequate and safe drinking water to the rural population of the country.
  • The NRDWP is a component of Bharat Nirman which focuses on the creation of rural infrastructure.
  • This has resulted in the provision of significant additional resources to the sector and for creating an environment for the development of infrastructure and capacities for the successful operation of drinking water supply schemes in rural areas.

Bharat Nirman

  • Bharat Nirman was launched by the Government of India in 2005 as a programme to build rural infrastructure.
  • While Phase-I of the programme was implemented in the period 2005-06 to 2008-09, the Phase-II was implemented from 2009-10 to 2011-12. Rural drinking water is one of the six components of Bharat Nirman.
  • Funds provided under the NRDWP are counted towards the Bharat Nirman also and no additional funds are provided under Bharat Nirman

Scheme for providing safe drinking water supply through community water purification plants in fluoride, arsenic, uranium and other heavy/toxic metals and pesticide/fertilizer affected rural habitations in the country

  • The National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) funds for supplying “safe” water in contaminated areas are being utilized by the States as a policy mostly for alternate safe Piped Water Supply (PWS) schemes including Multivillage schemes (MVS) (i. e., from far away safe sources) the gestation period of such MVS projects is about 4-5 years.
  • Since the rural people cannot be put to risk due to consumption of unsafe drinking water in the interim period as also whereas all such Multi-Village Schemes carrying safe water from far away sources cannot be planned and completed in the span of 4-5 years due to huge funds involved, hence, the Ministry of Drinking Water & Sanitation has submitted an EFC proposal to provide community water purification plants in fluoride, arsenic, uranium and other heavy/toxic metals and pesticide/fertilizer affected rural habitations in the country for providing safe drinking water immediately with an anticipated expenditure of total capital cost of Rs 3,600 crore with fund sharing pattern of 75:25 (90:10 in case of NE, J&K) between Centre and State in approx 20,000 habitations during the period 2014-15 to 2016-17.

Combined Water Supply Schemes (CWSS)

  • Combined Water Supply Schemes are being implemented where more than one local body, either rural or urban with a common source of water supply is involved with financial assistance under the Minimum Needs Programme, National Rural Drinking Water Programme and with funding from financial institutions like TUFIDCO, TNUIFSL, NABARD and Asian Development Bank.
  • During 2009 – 10 combined water supply schemes have been completed to benefit 4352 rural habitations and 41 towns at a cost of Rs. 795.04 crores. Presently Board is maintaining 422 CWSS in the state to serve 10,101 habitations benefiting populations of 131.59 lakhs which is about 20 percent of the state population
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