Water Wars Are Coming: 60% of South Asian Groundwater is Unusable
750 million people depend on Indo-Gangetic basin for water. (Photo: iStock)
750 million people depend on Indo-Gangetic basin for water. (Photo: iStock)

Water Wars Are Coming: 60% of South Asian Groundwater is Unusable

Sixty percent of groundwater in South Asia is unusable, according to a new study in Nature Geoscience. The future of water security in the region is extremely precarious, a growing body of research shows.

Around 750 million people in the Indo-Gangetic Basin — from India to Pakistan to Nepal to Bangladesh — rely on these water sources for drinking and agriculture. Fifteen to twenty million wells draw water from the ground.

At the same time, melting glaciers are threatening water security in the region. As global temperatures rise, key glaciers that feed South Asia’s most important rivers are rapidly disappearing. Hundreds of millions of people rely on rivers like the Ganga to survive.

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(Photo: iStock)
(Photo: iStock)

Slow Poison

Hair loss. Cramps. Convulsions. Bloody Urine. These are just some of the symptoms of arsenic poisoning.

Arsenic is an element which naturally occurs in the Earth’s crust. Though it is common in the air we breath and the water and land around us, it can be highly toxic in large doses.

Around 37 percent of water in the Indo-Gangetic region is contaminated by Arsenic, the Nature Geoscience study found.

(Photo: iStock)
(Photo: iStock)

A Pinch of Salt

Salt water creeping into groundwater is also a growing concern, especially in coastal regions. Around 23 percent of groundwater in South Asia is contaminated with salt, according to the new study.

Salinity intrusion turns lands barren and can have consequences on people intaking high levels of salt. But many people have no choice. With no other sources of drinking water around them, they continue to drink.

Rising sea levels as a result of climate change are expected to make salt water intrusion a growing concern in the coming decades.

Also Read: When Climate Change Pushes Vulnerable Women Into Sex Work

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