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Tuesday, 29 April 2008

All out measures must be taken

Shortage of water supply, irregular supply, contaminated water with the beginning of summer season , are all problems confronting us all across the country. Part of the problem is due to power crisis, where , in the power sector, reversing of decisions and procedural delays in implementing decisions, improper tendering processes , have complicated the setting up of new power plants and adding to existing capacity. As such, due to non-availability of adequate power for pump—extraction and distribution of water from underwater reserves and surface water from lakes , rivers and canals have been critically hampered and further deterioration in the water-supply situation is apprehended.  The torrid heat and absence of rain have added to the problem, causing critical depletion of surface water supply . Contamination of water-supply due to effluents from factories , and inefficient sewerage and sanitation measures are placing the people at risk from the use of even the depleted supply of water that is in some areas contaminated . And finally , driving the last nail in the coffin is arsenic contamination of water in some rural and urban areas of the country , which has not yet been effectively tackled .All of this is threatening human life as evidenced by the sufferings of children and also adults due to diarrhoeal other heat -related diseases. Contaminated water is also decimating livestock and fish .We have, time and again, commented in our editorial columns for the need for formulating emergency action plans and undertaking programmes under such plans to solve the water crisis .These include enhancement of extraction of groundwater supplies, making adequate reservoirs for storing sufficient surface water , so that even evaporation due to the summer heat cannot substantially deplete the requisite supplies needed for the drinking , cooking and cleaning needs of the people , and irrigation for agricultural production . There are no alternatives of drinking water which is the ‘stuff of life’. While potatoes, wheat and maize are convenient and cheaper substitutes for rice , soft drinks and fruit juices are too expensive for regular use by most of our people , and cannot be used in cooking and cleaning and irrigation and hence are not adequate substitutes to make up for deficiencies in water supply. A concatenation of adverse circumstances , some of which have resulted from the wrong actions and inactions of the past governments , have precipitated these simultaneous crises in the water and power sector at present . Hence, emergency measures to enhance water supply sources, with adequate distribution to the public , and purification of water , contaminated by chemical effluents , waste and fecal matter and arsenic , are the needs of the hour.

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