Video Summary

[RSTV The Big Picture] Drinking Water: Quality and Challenges

As the Scientific management of water is increasingly recognized as being vital to India’s growth and ecosystem sustainability, States must adopt a water lens into policy making and planning across sectors to tackle the multi-faceted drivers and impacts of water scarcity.
By IT's Video Summary Team
December 03, 2019


  • Context
  • What are the reasons for unsafe drinking water?
  • What are the possible impacts?
  • What are the solutions to the problem?
  • IT`s Input
  • Way Forward
  • Conclusion

[RSTV The Big Picture] Drinking Water: Quality and Challenges

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A study by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), under the aegis of the Consumer Affairs Ministry, has found that the drinking water in Mumbai was found to be compliant with all 11 parameters of the prescribed specifications. On the other hand, the drinking water from Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai failed in almost 10 out of 11 quality parameters. Similarly, samples drawn from 17 other state capitals were not as per the prescribed specifications for drinking water.

According to the Composite Water Management Index report, India is ranked 120th out of 122 countries.

What are the reasons for unsafe drinking water?

There are numerous sources which affect the water quality. The reasons for unsafe drinking water are interconnected.

drinking water

What are the possible impacts?

  • Poor water quality is a great health risk for populations residing in Metro cities. Low water quality can result in waterborne diseases and can cause epidemics.
  • Excessive groundwater extraction can result in arsenic (carcinogenic) contamination as extracting groundwater till last drop also attracts arsenic from buried clays.
  • Poor quality of water has resulted in the bottling of water (due to uncertainty of the quality and safety of tap water among others) which in turn is causing plastic pollution.
  • Poor quality air and water can affect the international standing of the country and can result in a decline in tourist flow to the country. Moreover, in the long run, it negatively impact the economy.
  • Poor quality of water has resulted in increased usage of Reverse Osmosis(RO) water purification systems which provide comparatively cleaner water. However, it does have its own problems such as:
  • ROs waste lot of water.
  • ROs deprive essential minerals of water and regular consumption of RO water can rob minerals like calcium from the body.

What are the solutions to the problem?

solutions to the problem

IT’s Input

What is Ion-exchange water treatment?

Ion-exchange water treatment

  • Ion exchange is a water treatment method where unwanted dissolved ions are exchanged for other ions with a similar charge.
  • Ion exchange is used for water softening or demineralization. Specialized resins have been designed to treat various contaminantsof concern, including perchlorate and uranium.




·         One of the most appropriate technologies to remove dissolved inorganic ions effectively.

·         Relatively inexpensive initial capital investment.

·         Does not remove bacteria effectively.

·         High operation costs over the long-term.

·         The process of regenerating the ion exchange beds dumps saltwater into the environment.



What is Composite Water Management Index (CWMI)?

  • It is a tool developed by the NITI Aayog to assess and improve the performance of States/ UTs in the efficient management of water resources.  Recently, CWMI 2.0 was released.

Highlightes of CWMI 2.0

For Non-Himalayan states

  • First rank: Gujarat
  • Andhra Pradesh (2nd), Madhya Pradesh (3rd), Goa (4th), Karnataka (5th) and Tamil Nadu (6th)

For NorthEast and Himalayan states

  • First rank: Himachal Pradesh
  • Uttarakhand (2nd), Tripura (3rd) and Assam (4th)

Union Territories

  • First Rank: Puducherry

In terms of incremental change in index (over 2016-17 level), Haryana holds number one position in general States and Uttarakhand ranks at first position amongst North Eastern and Himalayan States.

  • On an average, 80% of the states assessed on the Index over the last three years have improved their water management scores.
  • 11 of India’s 20 largest cities face an ‘extreme risk’ of water stress and seven are in the ‘high risk’ Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Nashik, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Indore are among the cities facing ‘extreme risk’.

Union Territories

Key Facts

  • Water Stress Index, formulated by London-based firm Verisk Maplecroft, lists India as the 46th highest risk country in the world.
  • About 82% of rural households in India do not have individual piped water supply.
  • 70% of India’s surface water is contaminated.
  • India is home to 17% of world’s population but has only 4% of the world’s freshwater resource.
  • In spite of possessing surface water resources, India is highly dependent on groundwater resources for day to day survival. Contribution of groundwater is nearly 62% in irrigation, 85% in rural water supply and 45% in urban water supply.
  • 30% of Indian land is degraded or faces desertification, and this outcome is strongly linked to poor water management.
  • The per person disease burden due to unsafe water and sanitation was 40 times higher in India than in China and 12 times higher than in Sri Lanka in 2016.

Way Forward

Drinking water is a serious issue which needs to be addressed immediately so that we do not face long term problems. We need to go to the root of the problem and not resorting to quick fixes. New technology needs to be used while people must also be sensitised. Accountability needs to be fixed.


The writing is on the wall; we should do everything possible to rectify and correct the drinking water situation which is vital for a healthy population.


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