Despite Being The Fastest Growing Economy, Nearly 63 Million Indians Still Don't Have Access To Clean Water

Originally published by Maninder Dabas on www.indiatimes.com

Nearly 63 million Indians living in rural areas are without the access to clean water, says  Wild Water, a report on the state of the world’s water, released by WaterAid.  According to the report, lack of planning, competing demands, rising population and water draining agricultural practices are putting excessive strain on water resources.

And such a  huge population without the access to clean water, the diseases like cholera, malaria, dengue and diarrhoea are quite common in the rural landscape. 

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The report also forewarned that rural communities dependent on farming to make a living will struggle to grow food and livestock amid soaring temperatures and women who draw water in most of the rural households may have to walk even greater distance during prolonged dry seasons. 

Though the report also described India as one of the fastest growing economies but also said the ensuring water security for its growing population would be one of the key challenges for the country.

According to India's official Ground Water Resources Assessment, more than one-sixth of the country's groundwater supply is currently overused. "Droughts have become almost a way of life in the Bundelkhand region of North-Central India. Here, three consecutive droughts have pushed millions of people into a vicious cycle of hunger and poverty," it said.

India ranks in the top 38 percent of countries worldwide most vulnerable to climate change and least ready to adapt, according to the Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index. "With 67 percent of the country's population living in rural areas and 7 percent of the rural population even now living without access to clean water, India's rural poor are highly vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather events and climate change," it said.

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The report said today, 663 million people globally are without clean water and the vast majority of them - 522 million - live in rural areas.  According to WaterAid India's Chief Executive VK Madhavan, with 27 out of the 35 states and union territories in India disaster prone, poorest and the most marginalised across the country will bear the brunt of extreme weather events and climate change and will find it the hardest to adapt.

"This World Water Day, WaterAid is calling on the government to deliver its promise to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, including ensuring access to safe water as part of Goal 6 to everyone, everywhere. "Along with access to safe water, it is critical that communities have the necessary tools, infrastructure and preparedness to deal with the effects of extreme weather events and climate change", he said in a statement.
"These communities face particular challenges in gaining access to water due to isolated locations, inadequate infrastructure and a continued lack of funding," he said.