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Women and Water Crisis in India- NASSO Report

According to the Data released by National Sample Survey Office, economic growth may not have touched the lives of these women and water crisis is looming in villages because of overharvesting of ground water.

Every second woman in rural India walked an average 173 km to fetch potable water in 2012 making her trek 25 km longer than what it was in 2008-09. With per capita availability of water in India falling the report shows that dependence on depleting ground water for drinking purposes in rural India is on the rise as more accessible sources are drying up. As a result in 2012 about 54% of rural women had to travel between 200 meters and five kms daily to get drinking water. They walked 20 minutes in a day on an average and spent another 15 minutes at this source.

Every second rural woman spending 210 hours in a year for fetching water also meant loss of 27 days of wages for these households. Collectively these women covered 64,000 times the distance between the earth and the moon. The NASSO data also shows that 70% of the rural women from states such as Chhattisgarh, Manipur, Odisha and Jharkhand had to travel some distance to draw water. The daily time spent on this exercise was the highest in Jharkhand (40 minutes). It was followed by Bihar (33 minutes) and Rajasthan (30 minutes). It was the lowest for Assam (10 minutes) in rural India and Delhi (6 minutes) among urban parts of the country.

The women had to toll more as the traditional water sources are drying up. The NASSO statistics show that more households are dependent on tube wells or bore wells as principal sources of drinking water in 2012 compared to previous years. About 80% of the country's drinking water needs are met by ground water that is highly contaminated. The NASSO statistics reveal that less than 10% of rural Indian households have the facility to treat water before consuming it while the findings say that 90% of the families get safe drinking water. This data is based on the households' claims and not any scientific study. Also only 1.7% of rural Uttar Pradesh homes, 2.2% in Bihar and 6.6% in Haryana boil, filter or use chemicals and electrifiers to purify water. Even after so many years of Independence potable water remains a distant dream in most of the rural India.

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