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Take steps to make drinking water safe

Worldwide, contaminated water is causing 8.3 lakh deaths a year.
Last Updated : 16 July 2023, 19:28 IST

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Access to sufficient and safe water has been declared by the United Nations as a basic human right. The Supreme Court has held that the right to clean drinking water is a fundamental right under Article 21 and the state is duty-bound not only to provide adequate drinking water but also to protect water sources from pollution. However, in many parts of Karnataka, including Bengaluru, safe drinking water has remained a pipe dream. Samples tested from public sources in June by the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) show that 10 per cent of the water in the city is contaminated. Of the 592 samples collected during the routine monthly surveillance, 59 were contaminated. While 50 per cent of the contaminated water came from public taps located near drains, the rest was from hotels and RO (reverse osmosis) units. It is usually the poor who depend on these sources, making them vulnerable to waterborne diseases. Though the problem of water contamination has persisted for decades, the government has done little to address it.

In June, about 140 residents of an apartment near Electronics City took ill after consuming contaminated water from a borewell in the complex. This is another cause for concern as Bengaluru has thousands of borewells which are rarely monitored. The failure to prevent the entry of sewage and industrial effluents into lakes and other water sources could have polluted the groundwater in some areas of the city. Though the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board and the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board need to closely monitor the quality of water in borewells, they seem to have no action plan. Lakhs of people in newly formed localities on the outskirts depend solely on borewells, as they have no access to piped water. If this is the situation in the state capital, it is worse in the rest of Karnataka. According to some reports, in the six districts of Kalyana Karnataka, over 600 have been hospitalised over the past three years after consuming contaminated water. In May, three people died in Koppal and Raichur districts after drinking polluted water.

According to the World Health Organisation, about 8.3 lakh people die annually from diarrhoea as a result of unsafe drinking water. These are worldwide numbers, and Karnataka has reason to worry as the state accounts for some of them. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who announced several freebies in his budget may want to portray Karnataka as a welfare state, but all these welfare measures would have no meaning if people have no access to basic necessities like safe drinking water.

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Published 16 July 2023, 17:33 IST

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