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World Water Day: A day to reconsider our priorities

Access to clean drinking water is a mirage in over 75percent of households in India, but what is worst is that 40percent of our population will have no access to drinking water by 2030 if immediate steps are not taken. Now if this data does not scare you then nothing will. Today is World Water Day, a day when we have to prioritise what is important for our survival. And can anything be more vital than ‘water’ for our survival?

To take concrete steps we have to first acknowledge that there is a water crisis. Know that the water crisis in India is so big that our lives, livelihoods, and futures hang in the balance. And this challenge cannot be solved by water pumps, a purifier, and packaged and bottled water.Studies tell us that more than 50 percent of the population of our countrydoes not have safe drinking water and about 200,000 people die every year for lack of safe water. The current pandemic is not making this national crisis easier to manage. Did you know that about 82 percent of rural households are without piped water supply at present?While washing your hands the hundredth time know that it is not a luxury millions of us can afford, and most importantly nor is keeping ourselves hydrated.

How did it start?

The UN General Assembly decided adopted a resolution to observe World Water Day on December 22, 1992. Soon after March 22 was declared as World Water Day and is celebrated around the world since 1993.

2021’s theme of World Water Day

This year’s theme for World Water Day 2021 is ‘Valuing Water’. This theme highlights the value of water in our daily lives. “The value of water is about much more than its price – water has enormous and complex value for our households, food, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment. If we overlook any of these values, we risk mismanaging this finite, irreplaceable resource,” the UN website says.

State of water crisis in Odisha

Even though the state has many water resources, providing piped drinking water to people is the biggest challenge of the Odisha government. The State Government has set a revised target recently to provide piped water supply to all households in rural areas by 2024-25. But it has a challenge in hand as more than 50 per cent of the identified villages are to be covered in next five years. The Drinking Water Ministry of Odisha had said 23,072 out of 47,366 villages in the State have been supplied with piped drinking water. The remaining villages would be covered by 2025.

Ground water depletion is another concern that the state has to deal with. Ground water in 24 out of 30 districts in Odisha is depleting according to the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB). This is because around 80 percent of the state’s population depends upon ground water for drinking and other household purposes. Along with this, due to the change in the rainfall pattern, people in general have started shifting from rain dependent agriculture to seasonal irrigated hi-yielding agriculture.

How we can help prevent the crisis

We can take steps by working on groundwater recharging projects, micro-irrigation, and legislative changes to promote better water management.

The private sector can and needs to chip in too to look for a solution to this crisis. They can contribute by promoting new water purification technologies like smart water purifiers and auto-maintenance systems for a better future. Start-ups need to be acknowledged for the introduction of IoT technology, sensors, and data-driven approach in water purification,they are showing us a ray of hope in solving this problem. What IoT technology does is it tracks real-time input of water quality, water consumption, and filter use which assures safe drinking water.

At a personal level we do need to keep a tab over our consumption of water in our homes. Look for ways to reuse water and use less and less water in our daily chores.

These are but small steps, but small steps lead to big solutions. So, on this World Water Day let’s make a resolution to conserve water and provide water to all.

(The views expressed are the writer’s own)

Smita Singh is a freelance writer who has over 17 years of experience in the field of print media, publishing, and education. Having worked with newspapers like The Times of India (as freelancer), National Mail, Dainik Bhaskar and DB Post, she has also worked with Rupa& Co, a book publishing house and edited over 30 books in all genres.

She has worked with magazines like Discover India and websites called HolidayIQ and Hikezee (now Go Road Trip). She has also written for Swagat (former in-flight magazine of Air India), Gatirang (magazine of MarutiUdyog), India Perspectives (magazine for Ministry of External Affairs) and Haute Wheels (magazine of Honda).

After turning freelance writer she wrote on art and architecture for India Art n Design. She also worked for Princeton Review as a full-time Admissions Editor and then IDP Education Private Limited as an Application Support Consultant. Smita has her own website called bookaholicanonymous.com which supports her love for books and reading!

You can reach her at: [email protected]

(Lead collage with images from the net)

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