Current Matter of Water Pollution in India: Cause and Effect

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Table of contents

  1. The Problem of Water Pollution in India: Cause and Effect
  2. Conclusion
  3. References

The Earth is composed largely of water and freshwater comprises only three percent of the total water available to humans. Out of total water available, only 0.06 percent is easily accessible--mostly in rivers, lakes, wells, and natural springs. The fresh water is exposed to a variety of contaminants, many arising from the unsafe production, utilization, and disposal of inorganic and organic compounds. Approximately 1.2 billion people drink unclean water on a daily basis and five million people, mostly children are dying every year due to water-related diseases. As per United Nations estimates, About 2.7 billion people will not have access to safe drinking water by the end of 2025. The present essay about water pollution, its cause and effect, is an attempt to address the problem related to water pollution in India. The major causes of water pollution will be identified and attempt will be made to find out solution to problem of water issue that has serious impact all over the world.

Olaniran defined water pollution as the presence of excessive amounts of a hazard (pollutants) in water in such a way that it is no long suitable for drinking, bathing, cooking or other uses. Pollution is the introduction of a contamination in water that has serious health consequences. It is one of the major environmental issues in India. Most rivers, lakes and surface water in India are polluted. It has been observed from the research that water pollution causes approximately 14,000 deaths per day, mostly due to contamination of drinking water by untreated sewage in developing countries. Around 700 million Indians have no access to a proper toilet, and 1,000 Indians children’s die of diarrhoea every day and so many other countries too. As industrialization has spread around the globe, so the problem of water pollution has also increased with it. 

The Problem of Water Pollution in India: Cause and Effect

Almost 80 percent of water bodies are highly polluted in India. Ganga and Yamuna are most polluted rivers of India. The water sources in India are contaminated with both bio and chemical pollutants. The presence of harmful material in water is cause of various diseases. Bhopal Gas tragedy is the world’s worst industrial disaster resulted from ground water contamination. Approximately 40000 persons have consumed this contaminated water over the past 14 to 20 years and cancers, birth defects and diseases related to skin, lungs, brain, kidneys and liver are several times more prevalent in that community than anywhere else in the country. The resources in India are over exploited by human population. The main cause of water pollution is increasing industrialization, urbanization, and population growth. Approximately 10 percent of Indian Population do not have access to safe drinking water. The increasing problem of water pollution is result of untreated municipal and domestic sewage, untreated industrial waste and agricultural run-off. The Government of India has established Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETP) in industrial areas to reduce impact of water pollution still its implementation is slow and the problems related to water pollution are yet to be resolved.

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The freshwater quality monitoring in India is conducted by the National Water Quality Monitoring Programme. Almost all river sources are contaminated with coliform bacteria. The most polluted rivers of India include Sabarmati, Godavari, Satluj, Yamuna, Cauvery, Ganga, Krishna and Tapi rivers and people depending upon these rivers are subject to various health issues. In the industrial areas, industrial effluents are the main source of water pollution. These wastes get mixed with water and create serious health consequences. City sewage is also the main reason of water pollution. It results from laundry waste, dishwashing waste, urine and faeces. The main problem is disposing this kind of wastes. It leads to problem of diarrhoea and other major health issues. Around 70 per cent of the water pollution in Punjab is caused by sewage that affects the ground water in towns and cities and caused various diseases related to skin. It has been observed from a research in India that around 70 million people in West Bengal alone are at risk of arsenic poisoning as a result of long-term exposure to arsenic-rich freshwater. This problem is worldwide and around 150 million people are affected by arsenic poisoning. The depth to water table, nature of the soil matrix, and lateral separation between the on-site sanitation and groundwater source are the key parameters affecting groundwater pollution. Water stored underground in aquifers is known as groundwater. Due to increase in ground water pollution aquifers who feed on it are dying.

The increasing rate of water pollution in India is due to use of chemical pesticides in agriculture. The Government of India provides subsidies for use of pesticides for better production in agriculture. The overuse of pesticides has serious impact upon health and it leads to many diseases such as harmone disruption, reproductive abnormalities and cancer. Approximately, 2 millions tons of pesticides are consumed each year in India which pollutes the every source of water like (rivers, lakes and oceans) and the ground water is also polluted by the mobility of pesticides. The various chemicals (HCH and DDT) are detected in water sources of India. It is one of the serious concern that needs to be checked. Municipal solid waste also leads to increase in water pollution. These landfills lead to pollution of ground water. The chemical, physical, biological reactions of soil lead to spread of various diseases which is a serious concern. The lack of sanitation is also cause of water pollution. Due to increase in poverty people in India living in rural and backward areas have no access to toilets. The safe water is not supplied to 1.2 billion people in India. Approximately 2.2 million people die per year ,and about 4 billion affected by Diarrhoea due to water. The Government of India has introduced various schemes and missions to reduce the problem of water pollution. The schemes such as Swachh Bharat Abyian and clean Ganga Mission have been introduced to tackle the problem still the problem of water pollution is a major concern for Indian Government that needs to be checked.aa

Regarding the effect of water pollution, it has serious effect on the health. The polluted water is harmful to crops as it reduces fertility of soil and effects the overall agricultural sector and production. The polluted sea water has impact upon ocean life. It effects the quality of water and lead to various diseases. The polluted water is one of the major factor behind the low level of health in India especially in rural areas. Polluted water leads to various diseases such as cholera, tuberculosis, jaundice and diarrhoea, etc. Approximately, 80 percent ailments in India are result of contaminated water.

There are many approaches that needs to be followed to control problem of water pollution. The best way to solve these issues is to prevent them. The first major solution in this context is conservation of soil. Soil erosion can contribute to water pollution. So, if soil can be conserved we can prevent water pollution too. We should plant more trees, managing erosion in a better way and use farming methods that are better for the soil. it is also important to follow the right methods in disposing toxic waste. The toxic materials like paints, cleaning supplies, and stain removers are required to be used and disposed in right way. Oil leakage is one of the cause of water pollution, its leakage should be checked to prevent water pollution. The waterways and beaches should be cleaned to prevent water pollution. The use of non-biodegradable material like plastic should be avoided. These measures if used properly will be helpful in minimising the problem of water pollution in India.


There is need to create awareness to control the problems related to water pollution. We should work together to keep the environment clean so the plants, animals, and people who depend on it remain healthy. We should take steps to reduce problems associated with water pollution. We should use environmentally friendly detergents, not pouring oil down drains, reduce use of pesticides etc. to control water pollution. The Government should take various steps to keep rivers and ocean clean. We can take community action too, by helping out on beach cleans or litter picks to keep our rivers and seas that little bit cleaner. The use of non-biodegradable material like plastic should be avoided. These measures if used properly will be helpful in minimising the problem of water pollution. If we will work together, we can make pollution less a problem-and the world a better place.


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  • Lawrence, A. R., Macdonald, D. M. J., Howard, A. G., Barret, M. H., Pedley, S., Ahmed, K. M., et al. (2001). Guidelines for assessing the risk of Groundwater on-site sanitation. Commissioned report (CR/01/142) of British Geological Survey.
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