New Delhi: India, that holds just four percent of the world’s fresh water but 16 percent of the global population, is facing a freshwater crisis, warned environmental experts on World Water Day on Tuesday.

The experts also called for exploring and finding sustainable ways to use water.

The theme for World Water Day 2022 is ‘Groundwater – Making the Invisible Visible’.

“We are living in constant fear of the arrival of ‘Day Zero’ when water taps shall run dry and the people will have to start queuing up to get their daily quota of drinking water,” cautioned Kamal Narayan Omer, CEO, Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council.

Due to climate change, the environment and the ecosystem are deeply affected, resulting in a severe water crisis, he said.

“In fact, more than 2.2 billion people on this planet live without access to safe water,” Narayan said.

Manu Gupta, Co-Founder, Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS), said ground water is a limited resource and pivotal for sustenance of ecosystem.

“Water underpins everything, enabling people from surviving to thriving. Access to water means health, education, income, and dignity, especially for women and kids. But India is facing a freshwater crisis as it holds just four percent of the world’s fresh water but 16 per cent of the global population.

“Over the last 28 years, SEEDS has been working to mitigate this adversity and help thousands get access to water through water conservation, rejuvenation, recharging and potability across the country. Our work so far has been pertinent especially with this year’s World Water Day theme,” said the co-founder of SEEDS, a not-for-profit organisation that enables community resilience through practical solutions in the areas of disaster readiness.

He said some of the key projects of SEEDS have been rejuvenation of ponds and wells, drought assistance, rainwater harvesting systems in several schools and communities, terra filters, slow sand filters and other such low-tech solutions, in areas such as drought-prone Beed in Maharasthra, Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, Barmer in Rajasthan, South 24 Parganas in West Bengal, Begusarai and Saharsa in Bihar, and Gurugram in Haryana among others.

Experts unanimously called for exploring, protecting, and finding sustainable ways to use water and said this will be the key to not only surviving in this ever changing world, but to adapting to threats posed by climate change, and meeting the growing needs of a growing global population.

“On World Water Day, let’s make a commitment to use water more responsibly to ensure each one of us is not deprived of it. After all, we need water more than water needs us, to thrive on this planet,” said Narayan.

Manav Subodh- Managing Director of 1M1B (One Million for One Billion) Foundation, said that India has the highest number of people who lack access to clean water, imposing a huge financial burden for some of the country’s poorest.

“A few numbers from the World Bank highlight the plight the country is facing – 163 million Indians lack access to safe drinking water, 21 percent of communicable diseases are linked to unsafe water, 500 children under the age of five die from diarrhoea each day in India.

“These figures clearly show that people in India require an immediate solution for their clean drinking water issues,” Subodh said.

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