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Quality of water in India among the worst

Friday 5 March 2004

New Delhi March 5. A world water development report of the United Nations has categorised India among the worst countries for poor quality of water, as well as their ability and commitment to improve the situation.

By Our Special Correspondent

The Asian rivers are the most polluted in the world, with three times as many bacteria from human waste as the global average. These rivers also have 20 times more lead than those of the industrialised countries, says the report.

The report ranks 122 countries according to the quality of their water as well as their ability and commitment to improve the situation. Belgium is considered the worst basically because of the low quantity and quality of its groundwater combined with heavy industrial pollution and poor treatment of waste water. It is followed by Morocco, India, Jordan, Sudan, Niger, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic and Rwanda.

Attributing this to "inertia at leadership level", the report entitled "Water for People, Water for Life" observes that "the global water crisis will reach unprecedented levels in future with growing per capita scarcity of water in many parts of the developing world".

The report has been compiled on the eve of the Third World Water Forum to be held at Kyoto, Japan, from March 16 by 23 UN partners constituting the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) under the UNESCO.

It further observes that water resources will steadily decline because of population growth, pollution and expected climate change.

"Globally the challenge lies in raising the political will to implement water-related commitments," says the report.

"Water professionals need a better understanding of the broader social, economic and political context, while politicians need to be better informed about water resource issues. Otherwise, water will continue to be an area for political rhetoric and lofty promises instead of sorely needed actions."

The list of the countries with best quality is headed by Finland, followed by Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Japan, Norway, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, Sweden and France.

It ranks over 180 countries and territories in terms of the amount of renewable water resources available per capita, meaning all of the water circulating on the surface and in the soil or deeper underground.

The top 10 water rich countries are French Guyana, Iceland, Guyana, Suriname, Congo, Papua New Guinea, Gabon, Solomon Islands, Canada and New Zealand.

The poorest countries in terms of water availability are Kuwait followed by Gaza Strip, United Arab Emirates, Bahamas, Qatar, Maldives, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Saudi Arabia, Malta and Singapore.

The report adds that by the middle of this century at worst seven billion people in 60 countries will be faced with water scarcity, at best 2 billion in 48 countries, depending on factors such as population growth and policy-making. Climate change will account for an estimated 20 per cent of this increase in global water scarcity.


in "The Hindu", March 05, 2004.

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