Fifty million people in Indian cities lack access to safe drinking water

Fifty million people in fifteen cities in India have no access to safe, affordable drinking water: UNICEF report

A recent report by UNICEF India has revealed that 50 million people from 15 Indian cities lack access to safe and affordable drinking water. Clean drinking water is extremely important for the health of populations and it assumes even more importance in the times of Covid-19 when hydration works as an important factor in helping the body fight the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Majority of the population in urban India resides in private households wherein privately owned and operated sources of drinking water, such as wells, cisterns, and springs are available. However, people hardly know how the water they consume reaches them and if the water is adequately treated before supplying.

At the same time, access to treated piped water continues to be inadequate for the majority of the population. Water from major sources like tube wells and hand pumps is also found to be unsafe as they are known to be carriers of waterborne diseases.

Reverse Osmosis (RO) is one of the most effective water treatment processes being practised and widely used for water purification in urban areas. Although, it has benefits, water consumed after the treatment through the RO process is devoid of useful minerals, which can also have harmful effects on health. (Hindustan Times)

Coral reefs, 'rainforests of the sea' could vanish with global warming, warns a study

Coral reefs are one of the most valuable ecosystems on Earth and are often referred to as the ‘rainforests of the sea’, and they harbour a wide range of animals and plant species with diverse sizes and peculiar appearances.

However, these rainforests of the sea are in danger, thanks to global warming, which has exposed them to multiple risks due to rising greenhouse gas emissions. A study estimated the impact of the two greatest threats to the underwater ecosystems: ocean warming and acidification. The data was obtained from 183 distinct reefs located in 233 locations of the globe.

The study found that highest decline in coral reefs was found in the Atlantic Ocean (49 percent), followed by the Indian Ocean (39 percent) and Pacific Ocean (11 percent). This could be threat for a large amount of organisms that live in the oceans and depend on the reefs for food and also humans who depend on them for their livelihoods (The Weather Channel)

Women in Nagaland get together to revive springs and help 12,000 water scarce households procure water

While Nagaland is blessed with an average annual rainfall of 1,800 mm to 2,500 mms, the villages in the state suffer from acute water scarcity as the hilly topography of the area does not sustain natural water bodies such as lakes or ponds.

The people mostly depend on springs and river streams for their survival. However, these water sources have started drying up and gradually disappearing in recent years due to aggressive infrastructural development, urbanisation and massive deforestation activities.

However, all this changed when a project helped 300 local women, experts and government departments to get together to revive 99 springs in 89 villages across 11 districts, which helped in solving the water woes of 12,000 households across the state.

This not only helped to revive springs in the area and led to increase in the water discharge capacity of the springs, but also reduced the drudgery of women who had to wander to far off regions in the hope of finding water (The Better India).

Most of the plastic pollution in the oceans comes from 1,000 rivers around the world

A new study has found that nearly 80 percent of the plastic that pollutes the ocean is discharged from 1,000 rivers world over. It was earlier thought that a handful of large continental rivers were the main polluters. However, the study has revealed that small and medium-sized rivers play the most significant role in polluting the oceans through plastic emissions.

The study finds that 454 'very small' rivers contribute 25 percent of emissions, while 360 small rivers cause 24 percent of emissions; 162 medium rivers are responsible for 22 percent of emissions, while 18 large and six 'very large' rivers contribute to two percent and one percent of plastic emissions respectively.

The top five plastic-emitting countries include the Philippines, India, Malaysia, China, and Indonesia and they are responsible for 79.7 percent of the plastic that finds its way into the oceans (First Post).

IIT Madras develops a novel Paper-Based Sensor to detect antimicrobial pollutants in water bodies

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) have developed a paper-based sensor that can detect antimicrobial pollutants, which can lead to antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in water bodies. This sensor works on a 'see and tell' mechanism that makes it effective for wide implementation.

The problem of antimicrobial resistance is growing at alarming proportions in India and water bodies such as rivers, lakes, ponds are the major source for the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria because of the huge amounts of hospital and pharmaceutical wastes that are transferred into water bodies.

Periodic monitoring of antimicrobial pollutants and antibiotic-resistant genes can be very important and effective to assess the current situation of AMR in India (The Weather Channel).

This is a roundup of important policy matters from April 28 to May 11, 2021.