Community policing - Road to healthy environment

Debapriya Mukherjee *

Sadly, in the 21st century, about 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and about 1,00,000 people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water when technology has advanced with the help of ever-expanding knowledge. More than three million people in the world die of water-related diseases due to contaminated water each year, including 1.2 million children according to the report by the United Nations.

These water borne diseases are mainly attributed to limited access to safe drinking water, quality sanitation facilities, unhealthy hygiene practices and improper water management practices. India is mainly facing severe water crisis on account of increasing human population, food production, and industrialization.

The government has failed to provide safe drinking water to all households despite launching a program “Har Ghar Jal” in 2017 by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation. In India, at present safe (as assumed) piped drinking water reaches only 70 percent of urban and 19 percent of rural households. According to a NITI Aayog report, 40% of the India's population will not have access to clean drinking water by 2030 though Prime Minister strongly advocated to provide piped water to every rural home by 2024.

What’s worse is - the ‘Global Burden of Disease’ study estimated that 1.8 million global deaths were caused by water pollution in 2015. These adverse health impacts continue to occur despite improvements in household access to safe water.

Improvement in providing safe drinking water that has been focused is exaggerated due to poor indicators for monitoring. According to report India stands on the 120th position out of 122 countries in water quality index. The probable reason is that the government either does not bother to understand the actual adverse impact of contaminated water on human well beings because the voiceless poor people are practically suffering or does not have proper information about its impact on human health.

The major drawback in understanding the severity of water borne diseases is the failure in epidemiological surveillance to record actual cases of waterborne diseases and the status of drinking water quality supplied to people.

The groundwater in one-third of India’s 600 districts is not fit for drinking as the concentration of fluoride, iron, salinity and arsenic exceeds the tolerance levels. About 65 million people have been suffering from fluorosis, a crippling disease due to a high amount of fluoride, and five million are suffering from arsenicosis in West Bengal due to high amount of arsenic in ground water.

Fluoride contamination of fresh water also affects large parts of rural India. More than 25 million people across 17 states have to drink water with fluoride concentrations higher than the maximum permissible limit of 1.5 parts per million, During the visit to the villages in Birbhum district of West Bengal, many villagers were found with the deformities, both physical and dental, caused by fluoride.

Arsenic in West Bengal was described as one of the largest known "Mass Poisoning in human history". In West Bengal at present, fewer people are drinking arsenic-contaminated water than before due to growing awareness and access to arsenic safe water. But in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Assam, villagers are still drinking contaminated water as this problem is largely unrecognized.

We observed contaminant such as chloride in Daltanganj, nitrate in Sindri, fluoride in Talcher, chromium in Sukinda and so on in the ground water above the tolerance level. All these instances occurred due to direct recharge of these contaminants to the aquifer. Simultaneously release of metals from the soil/rock in contact with contaminated recharge water was noticed. A World Resources Report says- about 70 per cent of India’s water supply is seriously polluted with sewage effluents.

Water-borne diseases like cholera, gastroenteritis and diarrhoea erupt every year during summer and rainy seasons in India due to poor quality drinking water and sanitation. The Ganges provide water to over 500 million Indians - contamination of just one source of water could affect millions of lives in one go. Water contamination often occurs due to inadequate and incompetent management of resources as well as inflow of sewage into the source. Just 30% of waste water from India's cities is treated before disposal.

The rest flows into rivers, lakes, and groundwater. If this problem is not controlled, a lack of safe drinking water will take a greater human toll than war and terrorism. During my visit to many rural areas where piped water supply is available, drinking water is, often, contaminated with suspended solids during the summer and monsoon.

As water supply is not continuous, they are bound to collect turbid water after filtering through cloth. On analyzing this water, it was observed that water was contaminated with total coliform at the level of about 35 MPN/100 ml with total suspended solids of 30 mg/L.

The actual quality of water varies widely over the time and space depending upon the contamination of water sources, design of distribution system and their maintenance and storage condition. The quality of water supplied to the people cannot be ensured because quality assurance checks are lacking in cities and rural areas.

The entire population, where piped water is available are practically dependent on this common water supply despite availability of other protected sources such as public tube well and deep well which are also fit for drinking purpose. In these rural areas, the upper and middle income families with individual connection, drinking water are being utilized for all domestic uses including washing, cleaning, gardening and flushing of the toilet.

The eighty per cent of this safe water are ultimately drained out as waste flow to the nearby road from many households and pollute the ponds in the village as there is no holding tanks in their own premises to store this waste water. The people from poor families are deprived of safe water due to intermittent supply.

In addition to this, government did not provide piped water supply to the small remote villages mainly inhabited by the poor and mostly illiterate people due to paucity of water resources. On availability of safe water, many people have discontinued to use water of the pond and rivulet, a traditional practice, at least for bathing. Ponds are becoming redundant and practice of conserving rivulet water has been discontinued.

Thereby water quality is being deteriorated and infested with blue green algae particularly during dry season as it has of no use to many people, though poor people are still dependent on these ponds for bathing and washing. Importance of these ponds for its ecological service is practically ignored by the administrators in the government, villagers and politicians.

Also, land use and land cover change due to construction of houses and shops in rural areas in unplanned way has not only stooped inflow of rainwater to these ponds but also prevented recharging of groundwater. The problem of recharging is further aggravated on account of concretizing of all the inside village roads without making any provision for recharging of ground water in scientific manner.

Though development of road is the symbol of development but not at the cost of jeopardizing natural water cycle particularly at the time when our governments both in the centre and states irrespective of their political affiliations focus their concern on rain water harvesting. Governments launch some attractive programs for storage of rain water but with little success.

The governments did not make the people aware of the importance of the water and consequences of misuse/overexploitation of water. The major flaws are that governments always get the water project works done by the contractors who only looks into profit and loss. If all these water projects are operated and maintained by the community who are already aware about the importance of the water, it will be sustainable, economical and beneficial- of course political intervention with vested interest must be controlled.

It cannot be denied that water situation has been already worsened and poor people are badly suffering on account of non availability of safe drinking water. Now there is emergent need to conserve the water.

For that, water conservation and preservation awareness program must be started on war footing involving all the stockholders. This program does not need to pump out huge money to the contractors, it requires scientific approach and long term policy to involve the community to conserve and preserve the rain water as was done in Rajasthan by Mr Rajendra Singh who is known as “Waterman of India”.

* Debapriya Mukherjee wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is Former Senior Scientist, Central Pollution Control Board and is from Kolkata and can be reached at dpmcpcb(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on 06 August, 2019.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • Heikat-Leikat [13 Aug] #2 : Gallery
  • 13 August: Day to remember the heroes #2
  • Dynamic groundwater resources...
  • Lukanand Ksh & Langpoklakpam Melody
  • Meiraba winner @ All India Badminton
  • Archers win at World Police & Fire Games
  • 73rd Independence Day: One Constitution
  • Preparatory Revision Course at Sanakeithel
  • IIT Guwahati's half marathon
  • Getting the best out of Govt schools
  • Babysana: Student - Aug 10 #2: Gallery
  • Jhulon @ Imphal #1 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • A Soldier speaks over Timeline of Kashmir
  • Tamenglong not be used as a money field
  • Food intolerance - Diagnosis & tests
  • That Jungle of a Garden :: Poem
  • International Day of Indigenous People
  • Saving future Manipur- need of the hour
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #9
  • Independence Day : Gallery
  • Suicide: how it looks like & what is
  • Manipur's 1st photojournalist, Santosh Ph
  • Mutum Ramo : President's Police Medal
  • A Letter to my Mother
  • Candle Light at Delhi for Babysana
  • In search of the elusive unity
  • Naga solution anytime soon, says Ravi
  • Landscape Dzukou Valley #1 : Gallery
  • Indigeneity: Expression & Experience : Book
  • Cry of a Dying River - 89 :: Poem
  • Career in youth development
  • The Wind Will Carry Us : Film screening
  • Communication Course for Development
  • Impact of Christianity among Vaiphei #1
  • Dolaithabi Barrage: An emerging failed Dam
  • Chamba, Ayung, Paomilal :: eMing
  • New India in Konung Lampak
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • High Court & Workers on Sand Quarrying
  • Niranjoy attempt to break Guinness Record
  • Scripting Congress Mukt slogan
  • Bharat Mata has no place on August 13
  • Heikat-Leikat [13 Aug] #1 : Gallery
  • 13 August: Day to remember the heroes #1
  • Jallianwala: Manglen Onkhraba Lamjao
  • Lets us preserve indigenous languages
  • Hepatitis and pregnancy
  • On statement by Hoho & Naga Mother
  • Thangmeiband : Distasteful politics
  • Remembering patriots
  • UN Human Rights: Manipur Experience #5
  • Patriots' Day @ Pune : Gallery
  • Historical War fought by Manipur :: Articles
  • Police adapting to challenge by trafficking
  • Preventing TB is rooted in medical ethics
  • In the name of Love :: Poem
  • Expensive motor laws on the way
  • 13th August observed at Pune
  • Youth conclave with a difference
  • Alarming State of Students Life in Manipur
  • Babysana: Student - Aug 10 #1: Gallery
  • On Manipur Handlooms: A Clarion Call
  • Dzuko - A piece of heaven on earth #2
  • Of Colours and Sunset
  • A Beautiful Mind :: Poem
  • An apple a day keeps wrinkles at bay
  • From hostels to the school
  • Renaissance of Meitei Hinduism
  • Babysana: State bandh - Aug 9 #2: Gallery
  • Id-Ul-Azha - Id Festival :: Book
  • Would any journalist dare to stand up #2
  • Artic Haobam won 1st ArP championship
  • Invitation : RIST Talk - 40 @ MU
  • Condole demise of Phanjoubam Santosh
  • Making a New India & fate of Manipur
  • Babysana: State bandh - Aug 9 #1: Gallery
  • Some basics that many people ignored
  • House building of the Zeliangrong #2
  • Condolence : Photo Jounalist Ph Santosh
  • World Indigenous Peoples at Khumulwng
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • Zo Forum celebrates Indigenous day
  • Lukanand Ksh wins at Mister North East
  • Post mortem reports fail to cut ice
  • Babysana: Student protest- Aug 8: Gallery
  • Counterpoints: Transgender Rights Bill #2
  • Manipur topped rankings in Breastfeeding
  • Cry of a Dying River - 88 :: Poem
  • World Indigenous Peoples Day
  • Criticizes scrapping of Article 370
  • Naga leader compromise Naga future
  • Free Children Heart Surgery Camp
  • Another bandh after 12 hours bandh over
  • Babysana death: What ails this society
  • Folklore of Hao communities #3
  • Programm @Sangai Fest #4 : Gallery
  • 'Tamenglong & Manipur' Amur Falcons #2
  • Haris Adhikari: Finest Whiskey in Writing
  • Manipur bag 6 medals at National Fencing
  • Agriculture and skill training
  • Resolutions on Naga Political Issue
  • Need for Imphal to reach out to hill CSO
  • ..should be justice for 1000s babysanas
  • Ibudhou Pakhangba Haraoba #2: Gallery
  • Mob Culture in Manipur
  • Dzuko - A piece of heaven on earth #1
  • Abrogation of Article 370
  • Issue of illegal mining of minor minerals
  • Annual Legal Awareness Program at Pune
  • Power, Works back to Biswajit
  • Redefining India
  • Gandhari (Dance Drama) #1 : Gallery
  • Would any journalist dare to stand up #1
  • The Truth Lie :: Poem
  • An opportunity to end AIDS & TB
  • Soft skills?? What are soft skills
  • Community - Road to healthy environment
  • Scrapping Articles 370, 35A
  • Matsyanyaya: Law of the Fish
  • Babysana: protest @Khuyathong : Gallery
  • Road from Haochong to Noney : Gallery
  • House building of the Zeliangrong #1
  • The World We Want
  • My Lil' Hamlet :: Poem
  • CM meet with CSO: Naga solution at hand?
  • Aliyah #2 (Film Scenes) :: eRang
  • Old Age Home Kumbi : Gallery
  • Counterpoints: Transgender Rights Bill #1
  • 'Tamenglong & Manipur' Amur Falcons #1
  • Vocationalisation of education in Manipur
  • Tourism Festivals & Tourists in Manipur
  • The World Turned Upside Down :: Poem
  • Think about the future
  • Nachom : used traditionally by Meitei
  • Kanglen Kang Chingba #2 : Gallery
  • Trend of private drug rehabilitation centre
  • Saffronites unhappy with power politics
  • IABP (Balloon Pump) saved life
  • Mega Mister & Miss North East
  • Anti-terror laws & victimization of innocent
  • The state today: blame the representative
  • Will remain true to Framework : IM
  • Laonii Fest @Phuba #1 : Gallery
  • No #endAIDS without #endTB
  • Cry of a Dying River - 87 :: Poem
  • Green your skills for green jobs
  • Ji Ingobi Chingtham: Bicycle tour
  • Will surrogacy law be really effective?
  • Vacancies at Hadron Techs, Imphal
  • 14 hours out of 24 hours
  • When people turn violent against HC order
  • Babysana's last rites performed: Gallery
  • August Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • Parade @ Manipur Police, Pangei: Gallery
  • War with Climate
  • Matric, UG & PG days of an aerobiologist
  • Invitation : Workshop on Mathematica
  • Job vacancies at Makok Technologies
  • Liver Function Tests
  • Arrested but not on murder charge
  • Threatened future and the way out
  • Downside of Khuga Multipurpose Project
  • Manipur State Drug Policy #2
  • Scope of career in legal field
  • Demising the Adolescent Miss :: Poem
  • Threats against Rights defender Sobita
  • Demands action against scribe-assailants
  • Back home after Delhi's suggestion
  • Babysana's death and its questions
  • Licypriya: Abdul Kalam Children Award 2019
  • Two positives attracting each other
  • Kakching World War-II Memorial Run
  • Assessment your Tax for ITR
  • Who is responsible ?
  • Rejoinder to branding me as Fortune Teller
  • From Dec 8, 2016 to July 29, 2019
  • Of faith and failed justice
  • Neli Chachea: Doll Maker : Gallery
  • Traditional Practices of the Kukis: Book
  • Zero HIV transmission is must to #endAIDS
  • North-East students of Aryans Group shine
  • Th Tababi: gold at Asian-Oceania Judo
  • Mary Kom: Gold at President Cup, Indonesia
  • Rio on contribution of Himalayan States
  • Stand off to Babysana's death
  • Ibudhou Thangjing Haraoba #4: Gallery
  • CMHT cards to journalists : Gallery
  • Understanding land for peace
  • Politics & farmers waiting for a downpour
  • An Endless Summer :: Poem
  • Tobacco harm reduction - A realistic option
  • NDPP reacts to statement of NPF President
  • The fools think we can be fooled easily
  • Twinkle Twinkle Scientists Star
  • Rohan Philem Reception @Pune : Gallery
  • Keisham Geenita : tops AIEEA-PG-2019
  • Are we putting efforts on grassroot football
  • Condemns insensitive attitude of police
  • Skin problems that arise during monsoon
  • Countdown to Year 10 of Weekender
  • Light at the end of peace process
  • Of human rights and open world
  • General strike on Babysana : Gallery
  • Manipur State Drug Policy #1
  • Kindness - A Virtue
  • L Sarita nominated at AIBA commission
  • We don't lack talents :: Hidam Rajeev
  • Cry of a Dying River - 86 :: Poem
  • Courses on Information Technology
  • Three decisions vis-a-vis Babysana's death
  • Corporal punishment - violation of RTE
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #2: Gallery
  • Haj pilgrims send-off : Gallery
  • Is Lack of rain a problem for Paddy ..
  • Mission 'School Phagat Hanshi'
  • Labour Codes threaten Press Freedom
  • Program for IHGF Delhi Fair at Kakching
  • Heart Camp at Health Centre, MU
  • Questions on safety of school hostels
  • Babysana's case, safety of our children
  • Nupi Pali @ Kang festival: Gallery
  • Some Chase Goal, Some Hunt Goal
  • Himalayas: Where India Meets China..
  • Preventing TB is critical to #endAIDS
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Career option in Anthropology
  • Deafening silence of Govt
  • BJP's image in serious trouble
  • Gandhari (Dance Drama) : A synopsis
  • Social service @Ibudhou Thangjing: Gallery
  • Sanamahi Cheng Hongba #2: Gallery
  • Weaving at Nongpok Sanjenbam : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #3: Gallery
  • Social service @ Moirang : Gallery
  • World Music Day @Yaiskul #3: Gallery
  • 3rd Singcha Wuyawon Festival 2019
  • seL tiHZakaNdta nuHZa_Iba :: Seireng
  • Cracks at Thong Nambonbi : Gallery
  • Yumnam Shamu : Natbhusan (Duhar)
  • The Great June Uprising #5: Gallery
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download