Kochi: India has the highest number of people – 76 million – in the world without access to safe water supply, followed by China and Nigeria, a WaterAid report said on Tuesday.
The people end up incurring high costs for access, which is primarily due to poor management of water resources, says the report 'Water: At what cost? The State of the World's Water–released by the global agency to mark the World Water Day 2016.
The report placed India on the top of 10 countries in the world with the greatest numbers of people living without access to safe water, followed by China and Nigeria. Pakistan figures at the 10th place.
"Nearly 76 million people in India have no access to a safe water supply. Most of those people are living on around GBP 3 a day. If they have the opportunity to buy water from a tanker it can cost 1 Rupee (GBP 0.01) per litre, sometimes double if supplies are scarce," says the report.
WaterAid, an international charity working on improving access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation, in its report says poor management of water resources was the biggest problem holding India back from reaching all of its population with water supplies.
Aquifers provide 85 per cent of drinking water, but levels are falling in 56 per cent of the country, it warns.
"Hand pumps are exacerbating the crisis in many areas by depleting shallow aquifers. Misappropriation in planning and execution of water supply projects is another key factor.
"And projects often use inadequate sources or pipelines do not reach habitations. As a result, millions of people get insufficient or poor quality water," it says.
The report further says communities depend on a single or distant source for drinking water, often leading to disputes and increased discrimination against the main water fetchers: women and girls.
WaterAid's analysis shows that in the developed world, a standard water bill is as little as 0.1 per cent of the income of someone earning the minimum wage.
However, in a country like India, a person reliant on a water vendor (tanker) for their water supply would spend as much as 17 per cent of their daily income on water to get just the recommended daily minimum supply.