The average water consumption per person has increased by more than 60 per cent in urban areas of Bundelkhand region. (Photo Credit: News Nation Photo)
The average water consumption per person has increased by more than 60 per cent in urban areas of Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh because of heightened sanitisation concerns amid the coronavirus pandemic, a study by a voluntary group has found. The preliminary analysis by 'Jal Jan Jodo Abhiyan' showed the average water consumption per person was 75 litres before March 15 but it increased to 125 litres owing to repeated handwashing, home cleaning, washing of clothes, national convener of the programme Sanjay Singh told PTI in an interview on phone.
"We have based our projections on the rough estimates of water supply provided by Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam and Jal Sansthans to Bundelkhand. We are waiting for a detailed data set from these organisations which will be possible only after the lockdown is lifted. Then we will have a clearer picture. Going by the data provided so far, we can safely say the per capita water consumption has increased by at least 60 per cent from the average consumption," Singh said. Known as "the waterman" in the parched Bundelkhand region, Singh has worked to conserve water for over 20 years.
He initiated a novel concept of "Jal Saheli" under the voluntary group "Parmarth Samaj Sevi Sansthan" with which he has been associated for 25 years. The initiative brought women from nearly 150 villages to the forefront of water conservation, a scarce commodity in the region. "Now a days,on an average, a person is washing hands five to seven times a day. People are also cleaning their homes. Using more water to clean vegetables and even in some extreme cases packets of milk and other commodities which has increased consumption. This is evident in the preliminary water procurement supply data," he said.
The Bundelkhand region has seven districts spread across Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh with seven rivers flowing, 20 dams and numerous reservoirs,some of them over hundreds of years old. Still it grapples with water shortage because of its unique granite-base topography, which does not allow rainwater to seep and recharge the groundwater, Singh said. Most of the water supply comes from dams, which are also affected with silting requiring repeated maintenance, he said. Singh said the water problem is likely to get severe in coming days, but repair of hand-pumps and supply lines is halted because of the lockdown to contain COVID-19,he said. "After the harvest season, work to repair ponds and reservoirs used to begin,but because of the pandemic there is a delay, which will affect the water conservation efforts to tap the rainwater during the monsoon," he said.
Singh said 70 per cent of water is used in agriculture while about 12 to 15 percent is used in industries and personal consumption. "If the problem of COVID-19continues to increase, it will keep on increasing water consumption.With dwindling natural resources for water, it will be an uphill task to meet the promise of tap water in every home by 2024 because of increased demand" he said. People will have to change their lifestyles to adapt to pandemics like COVID-19withlimited water usage, he said.