Polluted Water for Villages

In Gairsair village, Uttarakhand, a lack of clean drinking water continues to be a problem for villagers. A man crouches over a badly cracked concrete circle foundation, which houses a water pump to provide drinking water to villagers. Except the water that comes out of the pipe is yellow, not clear. The man drinks it anyway due to his thirst. He has no choice in this small village with extremely limited supplies of clean drinking water. Access to clean drinking water in India, especially rural locations, can be very difficult for locals. WaterAid reports that waterborne diseases, including diarrhea, affect almost 37.7 million Indians. Bacterial contamination of water is a massive problem across India and can contain E Coli, Shigella, and V cholera bacteria, Hepatitis A, Polio Virus, and Rota Virus, as well as E histolytica, Giardia, and Hookworm parasites. WaterAid states that 66% of water samples tested in 2005 by the Central Pollution Control Board showed less than acceptable organic pollution in the water, and 44% contained coliform, which can show the extent of pollution in water. There should be no coliform in any water samples for them to be considered safe to drink. The local government installed pumps in Gairsair village, but they do not provide clean water to villagers. Hemchand, a villager, says, “There are six hand pumps installed in our village. Yet only one pump dispenses drinkable water. This water isn’t sufficient for the whole village. A very scarce quantity can be dispensed out of it. If the water is percolated for a long time, it turns yellow. There is no other water source for us, besides one pond, which we don’t drink from.” In addition to limited natural resources in the village of only 3 streams and 2 wellsprings, Vipin Joshi, IndiaUnheard Community Correspondent, says that one of the reasons clean water is scarce is because the population of the village has risen. He reports that people have started living around water sources. This is a problem because they are illegally destroying and channeling water sources, which, in turn, increase the scarcity of water. Sadal Misra, villager, says, “People have trespassed and felled trees to make shelter and build houses. Water reserves depend on forests. If forests are cut down, our water resources will dry up.” Unfortunately for these villagers, Vipin reports that he spoke to water department officials about this problem. The officials thought it was a “minor” issue. Vipin reports that Gairsair village is close to district headquarters, and they still can’t get clean drinking water, despite this proximity to the local government. Vipin asks how villages farther from district headquarters are managing, if the situation is like this in a village with such a close distance to headquarters. For now, villagers will continue to live without an adequate supply of clean drinking water. They will continue risking depletion of their forests and existing natural resources of water. They have no choice due to the government’s apathy and lack of concern for their problem.

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