The Water Quality Index is a tool that determines the quality of drinking water in rural, urban and industrial areas across the world. India ranks 120th amongst 122 countries in terms of the water quality. The depleting quality of water, over the years has significantly affected the per capita availability of water ever since the country’s independence in 1947. Today, more than 163 million Indians lack access to safe drinking water. Water is a necessity for sustaining life but if the quality of water is affected, it can be toxic. 80% of the life-threatening diseases are water borne. In the year 2019, around 7 people were killed every day owing to the consumption of polluted water. On a global scale, almost 1.5 million children die due to water related diseases. Even in case of India, 4 crore people in the rural parts have to drink contaminated water.
The only two sources of drinking water are groundwater and surface water bodies like rivers. Groundwater meets 50% of urban water needs and 85% of rural domestic needs. However, the excessive extraction has led to a massive amount of exploitation. According to a report by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), groundwater levels in the country have declined by 61% in the decade between 2007-2017. The process used now for procuring groundwater is called mining, which leaves no place for groundwater recharge. The surface water bodies have been contaminated with hazardous levels of arsenic and many other toxic metals like fluoride. Arsenic amongst these is known to cause a slow death.
Noyyal river is one of the major tributaries of the Kaveri river in the south-Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Tirupur in Tamil Nadu is one of the most popular destinations for knitwear. This is also the hub for exporting knitwear across the world. The exports generate almost 40,000 crore rupees per year. However, the hefty amount is generated at the cost of a river and the aquatic life residing in it. Noyyal river is surrounded by the fabric dyeing units. The waste and effluents from these units are directly let into the water. What was once a sweet water source, is now 100% effluents.
There are many rivers across India that are contaminated by industrial effluents. The disposal of effluents in the water bodies defy many laws in the country including the environmental protection acts. However, despite implementing laws, the government falls short in maintaining the water quality or keeping a track of the insurgence. There is an urgent need for public participation in maintaining the water quality and quantity.
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