Tuesday, September 11, 2012


While lot is being talked about the food security issues which are going to be faced in the coming years, little attention has been focused on the on-going water crisis being experienced in many urban entities throughout India. Though providing safe drinking water to its citizens in adequate quantities is the sacred responsibility of those who plan and manage civic facilities in these protected population areas, India is woefully lack of even the minimum infrastructure in these townships due to mis-governance, lethargy, callousness, insufficient investment and insensitivity to the sufferings of the citizens. Probably India may be the only country in the world where water quality in most of the towns and cities is totally unreliable and can cause damage to the health of the population depending heavily on the so called "protected" water supplies. One even wonders whose health the municipalities and civic corporations are protecting-the citizen's or the financial health of the private water suppliers and the bottled water manufacturers who are having a swell time under such an environment. Here is an interesting report from Chennai about the tragedy of water supply system here which reflects the unfortunate mindset of the governments with no value attached for human lives in their agenda!

"As many as 90 private tankers that cater largely to apartment complexes, hotels, hospitals and commercial establishments were checked over the past few days. The water samples transported by private vehicles were checked in various areas such as Koyambedu, Retteri and Padi. The exercise follows the recent death of two construction workers from West Bengal, allegedly due to acute diarrheal disease after drinking water procured from a private tanker supplier at their workplace in Pallikaranai. These tankers are becoming indispensable as the demand for water is on the rise. While Metrowater's supply is primarily through pipes, some localities rely on tankers for their daily needs. Chennai Metrowater operates nearly 670 tanker trips every day and charges a nominal amount for them. The remaining gap between demand and supply, especially for the suburbs and large establishments, is mainly bridged by private water lorries. While over 2,000 private tankers are said to be in the business in and around Chennai, there is no regulation or monitoring of the quality of water supplied or the number of trips operated by these private suppliers. According to sources in the Food Safety department, the Chennai Corporation is the authority to enforce quality norms on private water lorries in the city while the Public Health department fulfills that function in the city's fringes. None of the water samples checked had the minimum chlorine level of 0.2 parts per million (ppm), as per prevalent specifications. The water in these tankers had been extracted from bore wells or open wells in agricultural areas".

It is admitted that India is a big country and there are bound to be teething problems and occasional hiccups during the growing phase but perpetuating the dilapidated water supply infrastructure except for some stray improvements here and there is not acceptable to the citizen who invests heavily on taxes and confidence on the ability of the administrators to protect his life under the democratic system of governance. Projects are planned, heavy investments are made and execution is scheduled but it takes ages for such projects to take shape due to the inefficiency of the management system with no one bothered about such indefinite delays which can be any where from 5 to 40 years!. Many projects are never even completed, let alone commissioned! Accountability has become the casualty in the present day India with no one being hauled up for shoddy work in any sphere of activity connected with the governments. What a tragedy! What type of life a citizen can lead if the basic minimum water needed for a clean and healthy life is denied to him, though excuses may be many for the shirkers to trot out for the delay? Will India ever achieve a stage where at least water flows abundantly, let alone the promised honey and milk under the Ramarajya regime envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi? If the present trend is any indication, such a transformation is unlikely in the foreseeable future.


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