India’s worsening drought is forcing doctors to buy water for surgery.
Hospitals in its third-largest city are now almost completely dependent on a fleet of privately-owned tankers.
Along with other doctors in Indian cities facing unprecedented water shortages, T.N. Ravisankar in Chennai is praying for rain—and soon.
Treating patients will “depend on God’s mercy” if water supplies in India’s fourth-largest metropolis aren’t replenished shortly, said Ravisankar, the chairman of Sudar hospitals, a chain of four clinics with 150 beds. Piped water at his hospitals has already dried up, and even the more expensive water trucks he now relies on may be unavailable soon in the state of Tamil Nadu.
“The cost escalation will have to be passed on to patients, who will have to spend more,” Ravisankar said. “If the situation continues, after a month we won’t be able to serve patients.”
Failed rains last year and delays in this year’s annual monsoon have left nearly half of India facing drought-like conditions, according to the South Asia Drought Monitor. Tamil Nadu is trapped in a “severe dry” cycle along with other states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
Up north, India’s capital New Delhi has recorded the worst monsoon delay in 45 years. With piped water supply available to less than a fifth of Delhi homes, political parties have traded barbs with the state government over the lack of planning for water-truck supplies to large swathes of the city.
As the impact of climate change worsens, water is shaping up to be a serious economic risk in Asia’s third-largest economy. Desertification, land degradation and drought cost India about 2.54% of gross domestic product in 2014-15, according to a study last year by India’s environment ministry.
India has witnessed widespread droughts in four of the past five years, and the government forecasts that per head availability of water will fall by 35% next year from 2001 levels. Hospitals, which rely on water for sanitation and preventing infections, are suffering as the cost of water rises.
The administration of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who promised an ambitious healthcare expansion ahead of his re-election in May, announced a water conservation awareness program on July 1. Yet it’s unclear if the measures will be enough to ensure a steady supply of clean water.
“Not many are informed about just how big the dangers are,” said Arivudai Nambi Appadurai, head of India adaption strategy at the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based group that researches ways to protect the environment. “The quality of water being bought even by homes in drought-struck areas has caused allergies, sending more patients to local hospitals in places like Chennai.”
Almost all of Chennai’s hospitals are now completely dependent on the more than 5,000 privately-owned tankers that ferry water around the city every day, according to N. Nijalingam, president of the Tamil Nadu Private Water Tanker Lorry Owners’ Association. But it’s becoming tougher to source water even from 100 kilometers (62 miles) away, he said.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://bit.ly/2TwO8Gm
TICTOC ON SOCIAL:
Follow TicToc on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tictoc
Like TicToc on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tictoc
Follow TicToc on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tictoc
Watch all of TicToc’s videos: https://www.tictoc.video/
Listen to TicToc’s podcast: https://apple.co/2D3Vta7
Subscribe to our newsletter: https://bit.ly/2FJ0oQZ
TicToc by Bloomberg is global news for the life you lead. We are a 24/7 news network that covers breaking news, politics, technology, business and entertainment stories from around the globe, supported by a network of Bloomberg’s 2,700 journalists across 120 countries.