Surface Water Contamination in India: Implications of Pollution Caused by Improper Sanitation

Surface Water Contamination in India: Implications of Pollution Caused by Improper Sanitation

Question: 80% of India’s surface water is polluted according to an estimate by WaterAid report. Elaborate on the implications of water pollution caused by improper sanitation.

• Close to 80% of the surface water of India is polluted as per the latest assessment by WaterAid

• Report based on the latest data from ministry of urban development(2013), 2011 census and Central Pollution Control Board estimates 75 to 80 percent of water pollution by volume is from domestic sewerage

• Untreated sewerage flowing into water bodies including rivers have doubled in recent times

• There has been an increasing burden of vector borne diseases, jaundice, cholera, dysentry and diarrhoea as a result of water pollution

• Water pollution is a major cause for poor nutritional standards and lack of child development as well

• Main reasons for ground and surface water pollution in the country are as follows:

• Inadequate sanitation facilities

• Poor septage management

• Near absence of sanitation and waste water policy framework

• Report indicates 17 million urban households which are 20% of total 75 million urban households lack adequate sanitation

• Regarding those with access to improved sanitation facilities, vast majority of the homes rely on on-site sanitation systems which have become a major source of groundwater and surface water pollution

• There is urgent need to focus on infrastructure and enforcement of proper sanitation systems

• Estimates show a mere 269 sewage treatment plants across the nation with 211 in Class 1 cities, 31 in Class 2 towns and 27 in other smaller towns

• Sanitation was not prioritised till the early 1990s and it only became an important policy concern around 2008

• Urban sanitation was allowed focused attention at the national level at this point in time

Facts and Stats

• Between 1991 and 2008(latest period for which data is available), flow of untreated sewerage has doubled from around 12,000 million to 24,000 million litres per day in Class 1 and 2 towns

• Database also defines Class 1 towns as those with population exceeding 1 lakh

• Towns with population between 50,000 to 1 lakh are classified as Class II
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