While the states are going to get grips with the pandemic of the corona, doors of the state like Rajasthan are being again knocked by the predicament of the water crisis. As the duration of the lockdown has been extended, the intellectuals have started agonizing about the emerging crisis, which is a scarcity of safe drinking water in the country and especially in the states like Rajasthan. According to a survey, just about 80 percent of Indian households have access to around 40 liters of water a day. In rural households, the situation is even worse as only about 20 percent of households have pipe-water supply.
“Groundwater situation of the state is frightening with only 30 water blocks out of 237 in total are left in safe zone”, said N.S. Satsangi, chief engineer state water resource planning department.
Rajasthan covers 10 percent of the country’s landmass but has only 1.1 percent surface water. That is why the state relies on groundwater which is attenuating at a great speed. What is more alarming is that only 10 percent of the wells have water that is safe for drinking. 88 percent of Rajasthan’s water is saline, 55 percent has very high fluoride. The government officials say that the people are forced to overuse the groundwater as they have no other option and because of the prevailing circumstances, the condition may exacerbate.
Groundwater levels in 190 of the 236 blocks are either overused or critically short of water. “People are overexploiting the groundwater. We withdraw 100 percent of the groundwater but only 22 percent got recharged. Install hand pumps that go dry within 8 months”, as stated by the state’s public health minister Kiran Maheshwari. Over 13,500 villages don’t have access to safe drinkable water, leaving them to depend on the tankers sent by the government. People in these villages cover a distance of about 5 to 7 km for safe water and manage to bring two pots at a time but that is not sufficient for a family of at least 4 members. During the lockdown and the pandemic phase, even this procedure of arranging water cannot be used.
PHED minister BD Kalla said that the potential of the water crisis was assessed earlier and the state government has already allotted Rs.50 lakh to each district to meet contingencies. “A three- monitoring is in place for redressal of complaints related to drinking water during the lockdown period and summer season. Control rooms have been set up at the state-level and in all districts. They are functional 24 X 7”, said the PHED minister.
The only method to prevent corona is social distancing and the threat of spreading corona is very high in villages. In a state like Rajasthan, where a large number of villages don’t have pipe-water supply and water of the wells and hand-pumps is depleting, then the people will be left with no other option but to step out of their house in search of water around them which will be a direct invitation of corona on a feast.