World Water Day: Conserve Water, Save Life
This year within the context of UN International Year of Sanitation, the “World Water Day” declared today adds great significance to this day in the era of increasing global warming and climate change, when the availability of drinking water and its safe conservation has become the prime agenda worldwide.
Water is a precious natural resource and is vital not only for our sustenance, drinking needs, agriculture, food security, and eco-system security but also is the basic and critical requirement for all-round development and growth. Since it is not an inexhaustible resource, it should be used efficiently considering the earth despite surrounded by 70 percent of water, the people across the globe will face the acute shortage of water, if not cautious yet.
The earth has only 3 percent water, the remaining 97 percent is salt water found in oceans and seas. We have only 1 percent fresh water; the remaining 2 percent is frozen in the form of mountains and glaciers.
While delivering inaugural address at the World Water Day function organised by the Ministry of Water Resources, the vice president Hamid Ansari said that owing to the National Water Policy the last three decades have witnessed an impressive effort to provide access to safe drinking water to Indian households.
As per the government records, while only 38 per cent of households had access to drinking water in 1981, that figure has gone up to 78 per cent by 2001. Much of the progress has been achieved in rural areas, where “Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme’ facilitated the number of households having access to drinking water going up from a mere 26 per cent in 1981 to 73 per cent in 2001.
Conservation and Replenishment
No country can develop itself until and unless it provides clean drinking water and the safe sanitation facilities. The people of any country have the right to access basic facilities comprising clean drinking water and improved sanitation for inclusive and sustainable growth. Still today, in villages’ people owing to the lack of proper toilet availability, use the open space, fields, and jungles for the purpose and use dirty and muddy water collected in trenches for cleanliness, which is the source of diseases.
Seventy percent of Indian population lives in villages of which about twenty percent are still destitute of the proper sanitary facilities. In slum areas, situated at the vicinity of metro cities, there is no proper availability of toilets and inhabitants faces acute shortage of drinking water.
Water and sanitation constitute an important component of public health. Its provision is important both for economic and human development. Water conservation and replenishment is increasingly assuming a global dimension.
The Vice President said that the availability of sanitation facilities continues to remain a major challenge before our government in the wake of only third of our population only making use of improved sanitation. The data is very poor for our country, and much debasing as compared to the global coverage of 58 percent.
India, which is developed among the developing countries as its economy is touching the 9 percent of growth rate, but far below in the areas of ‘improved sanitation’ as compared to other developing countries’ coverage of 49 percent and even that of sub-Saharan Africa of 36 percent.
Mega National Projects
In order to ensure optimum utilisation of the available water resources to support agricultural production and other demands, the government has identified few mega projects in different states such as Rajiv Gandhi drinking Water Supply Project, Indira Gandhi Drinking Water Supply Scheme as National Projects.
Saifudddin Soz, the Union Minister for Water Resources said to meet the financial need, the ‘Irrigation and Water Resources Finance Corporation’ has been announced in the budget for 2008- 09.
Today, water sharing is a highly contested issue in inter-state water relations. The time demands today to eradicate conflicts, which are often worsened by traditional values, customs and practices, historical factors and geographical notion, and address these issues through mutual co-operation. To meet the purpose, the NGOs and civil society would forge useful partnership at both the local and global level.
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