Saying that the common man spends around four percent of his average monthly income on drinking water, experts Wednesday called for pricing water to encourage the conservation of the fluid.
"We think that we get water for free. But the fact is that we incur expenses, which are almost four percent of our average monthly income, on improving the quality of water to make it drinkable," said Joyashree Roy, member of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC).
Speaking at the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII)-organised 'Water Exposition 2012' here, Roy said the pricing the drinking water would encourage conservation of the "fast depleting natural resource".
"Considering the hidden cost we incur on drinking water, if the government provides quality drinking water at a price, then the wastage of the fluid can be checked. We diligently use bottled water, but often waste tap water because it comes free," Roy added.
Roy said that putting a nominal price on water, in fact, would help the common man save as much as half the money which he now spends on filtering and improving the quality of water.
Seconding Roy's view, river water expert Kalyan Rudra called for using surface water for irrigation instead of ground water.
"Pricing of drinking water will certainly lead to conservation of ground water, which is now fast depleting. Groundwater should be allowed to be used only till the replenishment limit," said Rudra, the environmental advisor to the West Bengal government.
"As irrigation consumes almost 70 percent of the water that is used, the focus must be on using surface water. Unfortunately, today the traditional modes of surface water irrigation are no more in vogue," Rudra lamented.
The experts also urged the government to enact law making rainwater harvesting mandatory for all buildings that are being constructed or will be built in the future.