India is facing a severe public health crisis with increasing water-borne diseases and a deteriorating quality of groundwater.Recent studies by the United Nations reveal that over 1 lakh people die in India annually due to water borne diseases. It indicates that 70 million people in 20 states and 600 districts are at risk due to excess fluoride and around 10 million people are at risk due to excess arsenic in ground water.Hyderabad is reeling under severe water contamination which is adversely affecting the health of its citizens. To understand the impact of water contamination and key issues with drinking water in India and in Hyderabad, Eureka Forbes and GFK conducted a nationwide survey titled “Kya Aapka Paani Beemar Hai”. The water audit aimed at mapping the causes and reasons that were affecting families and individuals in Hyderabad and also across India due to increasing levels of water contamination and unavailability of safe, healthy drinking water. A comprehensive survey was conducted in Hyderabad interviewing 325 households.
The findings revealed some hard-hitting facts about water contamination being the biggest issue about 65 per cent of the households in Hyderabad. Ground water samples collected and examined by the Eureka Forbes Institute of Environment, a non-profit organisation revealed that few areas in Hyderabad were severely hit by water contamination. Levels of Total Dissolved Solids, Hardness, chlorides, nitrates, etc. responsible for water contamination have exceeded more than the permissible limits in certain parts of Hyderabad such as Madhapur, Asif Nagar, Secunderabad, Abids and Pragathi Nagar among other places. Toxic chemicals such as arsenic and lead and disease-causing bacteria are also contributing to the alarming increase in the water contamination.
Due to increasing levels of water contamination, five out of every 10 respondents surveyed had someone in their family and friends falling sick in the last one year. Incidences of deadly waterborne diseases like cholera, jaundice, typhoid, diarrhoea as well as common cold, cough and fever were high.
Around 48 per cent of respondents have attributed unhealthy drinking water as the main cause for the diseases in their families. The study echoed a serious concern among 50 per cent respondents who agreed that their drinking water is not healthy and hence is unfit for consumption. Surprisingly, even today about 27 per cent of Hyderabad households drink water directly from taps. This indicates that a significant number of people are vulnerable to deadly water-borne diseases, especially during monsoons as the water contamination levels tend to increase.