Aqua Vita is not the right name for the water most of us drink. Even when it runs clear sparkling out of a shiny metal tap, it is liable to be alive with germs and toxins rather than with health-giving properties. While the country struggles to provide more and more people with a constant water supply, qualitative improvement of the water supplied remains a largely accidental benefit. The irrigational maxim that any water is better than none continues to override basic health requirements. What are the ravages? Cholera, dysentery, gastro-enteritis, infectious hepatitis, enteric fever, hookworm, guinea-worm. These are diseases linked to bad water that undermine so many health measures, and so many people’s strength. They are major hazards for children, who are the most vulnerable to gastro-intestinal and parasitic ailments. Non-specific diarrhoea and dysentery are high on the black-list of child killers. These are not all. Poor water supply and poor sanitation are also at the back of scabies and other skin diseases. Filariasis and endemic goitre also have their roots in bad water. Conditions in urban areas have been markedly better than in the countryside, but towns and cities are also facing water purity problems related inattention to reuse of sullied water.
TROUBLED WATERS—THE BANE OFSANITATION IN INDIA