As many as 36 reported dead as heat wave continues: India facing its worst water crisis, says Niti Ayog

The young have fled villages with no water, leaving the cattle and the old to die, say frightening reports as people grapple with what the Niti Ayog admits is India’s worst water crisis

As many as 36 reported dead as heat wave continues: India facing its worst water crisis, says Niti Ayog

NH Web Desk

Even as severe heat wave with temperature crossing 50 degrees Celsius (122 Degree Fahrenheit) in several places in northern, western and southern India, as many as 36 deaths have been reported from Andhra Pradesh alone.

Unrelenting heatwave has also triggered warnings of water shortages and heatstroke. Delhi recorded a high of 48 degrees this week while earlier Churu in Rajasthan had hit 50.6 degrees Celsius (123 Fahrenheit) on June 2, the weather department said. Director of Centre for Science & Environment Sunita Narain tweeted :

According to Niti Aayog, India's planning agency, the country is facing ‘the worst water crisis in history.’

“Six hundred million people–nearly half of India’s population–face extreme water stress; 75 per cent of households do not have drinking water on premises; 84 per cent of rural households do not have piped water access. Seventy per cent of our water is contaminated–India is currently ranked 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index–and an astounding 200,000 people die each year from polluted water,” says the Ayog.

Indian Meteorological Department had said that severe heat could stay for up to a week across Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh states.

Even in the hill state of Himachal Pradesh temperatures reached 44.9 Celsius in Una. Several parts of Maharashtra, have reported severe drought and water scarcity.

"We have to source water tankers from nearby villages as water reserves, lakes and rivers have dried up," said Rajesh Chandrakant, a resident of Beed, one of the worst-hit districts. "Farmers only get water every three days for their livestock." said Raghunath Tonde, a farmer with a family of seven, said the area has suffered worsening shortages for five years. "There is no drinking water available for days on end and we get one tanker every three days for the entire village," Tonde told AFP.

Many Beed residents had stopped washing and cleaning clothes due to the water shortage, reported Hindustan Times. According to a report in The Guardian, Village of Hatkarwadi, about 20 miles from Beed in Maharashtra state, is almost completely deserted.

“Villagers who can afford it pay private water tankers over ₹2500 for 1,000 litres of water. Many end up in hospital as a result – even cows refuse to drink the muddy and salty liquid that has been dredged from the bottom of exhausted dams and lakes in the region,” says the report.

Usha Jadhav who lives in nearby Shivajinagar, The Guardian report stated, said her family no longer used the toilet as it had become an unaffordable luxury, and that women waited for the darkness of night to defecate in the open. “We cannot use 5-10 litres of water for flushing as we have to purchase water,” she is quoted as saying.

According to a report in Indian Express, Until June 3 in Maharashtra, residents of 5,127 villages and 10,867 hamlets were solely dependent on tanker water supply for their daily needs. Between May 20 and June 3, 512 villages and 728 hamlets were added to the list of areas being catered.

State government has deployed only 6,597 water tankers as of June 10 to meet the drinking water needs of parched regions.

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Published: 13 Jun 2019, 2:45 PM