Deaths due to contaminated water on rise

Ankita Chakrabarty/ Zee Research Group

With all the talk about water and its importance, it is crucial that we look at the acute problem of contaminated drinking water scenario in the country. According to the estimates of Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, there has been an increase of 569 cases of deaths due to diseases caused because of drinking contaminated water in 2012.

According to the figures furnished by Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, in 2012, a total of 3,883 people died due to diseases caused because of drinking of contaminated water as compared to 3,314 in 2011.Most of the deaths occurred due to diarrhoea and typhoid.

In 2011, as many as 1, 02, 31,049 cases of acute diarrhoea were reported of which 1,269 people succumbed to the disease. In 2012, of the 1, 17, 01,755 diarrhoea patients, 1,647 died. In 2011, 346 people died due to typhoid, the figure rose to 428 in 2012.

Pointing out the reasons behind water contamination in the country, Dr.M.PSharma, head of gastroenterology at Rockland Hospital, Delhi said, “The sewage and the water pipes in India are built very close to each other, hence if any leakage occurs in the sewage lines there are maximum chances of water getting polluted. Also, in many parts of India, hand pumps are built in close proximity to the toilets and washrooms which leads to the seepage of waste water at the underground level and the groundwater gets mixed with the waste water leading to contamination.”

In a detailed state –wise analysis, Uttar Pradesh reported the highest number of deaths due to the consumption of contaminated water followed by West Bengal. In 2011, Uttar Pradesh reported 872 deaths and West Bengal had 485 cases. In 2012, the figure rose to 888 in Uttar Pradesh and 511 in West Bengal respectively.

Water contamination leads to the spread of bacterial, viral and protozoan infection. The bacterial infection leads to typhoid, cholera and bacterial diarrhoea. The common viral disease is viral hepatitis and the protozoan diseases include Amoebiasis and Giardiasis respectively.

Detailing the symptoms associated with the consumption of contaminated water, Dr.S.K Thakur, consultant gastroenterology at Moolchand Medcity, Delhi said, “The symptoms can be nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and watery diarrhoea sometimes with blood, fever and loss of appetite.”

Precaution is always better than cure. Supporting the view, Dr. Sharma at Rockland Hospital said, “The first and the foremost requirement to prevent diseases caused due to contaminated water are to boil the water before drinking. Also, as the technology has advanced, so one can also make use of RO Water purifier systems for drinking pure water. One should also avoid consuming juice from roadside shops.”

Water contamination is not an individual problem and hence the solution has to come from united efforts. Concurring with the above view, Dr. Thakur at Moolchand Medcity, said, “The policymakers as well as the general public will have to join hands to combat water contamination in the country.”