India has the world's highest number of people without access to clean water, imposing a major financial burden for some of the country's poorest people.

According to the Water Aid, an international charity that strives to improve access to safe water, as well as hygiene and sanitation, there are 75.8 million people in India (that's 5% of the country's population) who are forced to either spend an average of 72¢to buy 50 litres of water a day, nearly 20% of their daily income, or use supplies that are contaminated with sewage and chemicals. The people of Britain spend around 10¢ a day for the same amount.

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Children play in water pipes at a construction site on the banks of the Yamuna River in the northern Indian city of AllahabadJitendra Prakash/ Reuters

Many people are forced to turn to an alternative in order to access water, due to the price or simply the issue of accessibility, but using dirty water comes with consequences and causes countless illnesses each year. There are about 315,000 children who die from diarrhoeal diseases each year, 140,000 of which occur in India. The much smaller countries of Papua New Guinea, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Chad and Mozambique have also topped the list of areas with the highest population percentages lacking clean water. In Papua New Guinea, there are 4.5 million without access.

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Municipal workers clear dead fish from the Ulsoor Lake in Bengaluru, IndiaAbhishek Chinnappa/ Reuters
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A woman carries water from a rivulet, in a jug on her head for drinking, during World Water Day in Baramura Hills on the outskirts of AgartalaArindam Dey/ AFP
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Children collect drinking water in flood waters in Jagi in India's state of AssamJayanta Shaw/ Reuters
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Hindu priests use a net as they strain water from rice as they prepare food after performing a ritual at the Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Yamuna and mythical Saraswati in AllahabadSanjay Kanojia/ AFP
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Residents with their empty containers crowd around a municipal tanker to fetch water in New Delhi, IndiaAnindito Mukherjee/ Reuters

"Poor management of water resources is the biggest problem holding India back," the report said. "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."

India already faces chronic water shortages and drought, as rivers become increasingly polluted and groundwater reserves rapidly decline thanks to the unchecked use of water pumps by farmers and villagers. The problem is set to worsen as global temperatures rise and rain becomes more erratic with climate change. Within 15 years, the country is expected to have only half the water it needs to meet competing demands from cities, agriculture and industry.

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Children play in the damaged Munak canal, that supplies three-fifths of the water to Delhi, in Sonipat in the northern state of Haryana, IndiaCathal McNaughton/ Reuters
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People fill water in their containers from a municipal tap in New Delhi, IndiaAnindito Mukherjee/ Reuters
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A worker douses a pyre with water from river Ganges at a cremation ground on the banks of the river in the northern Indian city of VaranasiArko Datta/ Reuters
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School children take part in an awareness rally held to mark World Water Day in Hyderabad on International Water DayNoah Seelam/ AFP
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People gather to get water from a huge well in the village of Natwarghad in the western Indian state of GujaratAmit Dave/ Reuters

Drought-prone areas such as New Delhi and Rajasthan are bring water kiosks into place, while others such as Nagpur, are experimenting with privatisation schemes in order too improve service. Punjab, which produces the vast majority of India's grains, has set up public water filtration units in order to clean groundwater contaminated by sewage and agricultural chemicals, including pesticides and fertilisers. Experts worry the water crisis could exacerbate community conflicts or regional tensions, and have urged authorities to impose strict regulations on water pumping and water use.

"We don't handle public goods well," said environmental economist Pavan Sukhdev. "You need public management systems to manage public goods, and there are no market lessons to help guide that management."

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A woman drinks water by a plate in AllahabadSanjay Kanojia/ AFP
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A girl sits on a rickshaw trolley and drinks after collecting water in plastic barrels from a road side tap in AllahabadSanjay Kanojia/ AFP
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A man take a bath after collecting water from a road side tap in AllahabadSanjay Kanojia/ AFP
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A resident of the eastern New Delhi neighborhood of Sanjay Camp cups his hands around the spout of a jerry can as another man pours in water at a water distribution point at the low income colonyRoberto Schmidt/ AFP
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Residents throw earthen pitchers onto the ground in protest against the shortage of drinking water outside the municipal corporation office in Ahmedabad, IndiaAmit Dave/ Reuters
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A woman rows a boat loaded with weeds collected from the Dal Lake in SrinagarDanish Ismail/ Reuters

India's Supreme Court "has already held that the fundamental right to clean water is a right to life," said court advocate Satya Tripathi, adding that it's only a matter of time before the issue comes back before the court. "The government really has to pay attention. Water is the one thing that can tear this country apart."

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Workers add labels onto bottles of drinking water at a bottling unit on World Water Day in Agartala, capital of northeastern state of TripurArindam Dey/ AFP
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An Indian woman carries a water bottle on her head in a migrant colony on the outskirts of New Delhi on International Women's DayChandan Khanna/ AFP
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A woman sprays water on a concrete at a construction site on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, IndiaAmit Dave/ Reuters
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People of the eastern New Delhi neighborhood of Sanjay Camp use hoses to fill water jugs from a water distribution truck, which arrives daily in the neighborhood to supply the low income colony with water,Roberto Schmidt/ AFP
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People fill containers with drinking water from a municipal water tanker at a slum in Kolkata, IndiaRupak De Chowdhuri/ Reuters
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A woman washes clothes by a water tap as animals gather around a polluted pond in AllahabadSanjay Kanojia/ AFP
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A boy drinks water from a pipe outside a hut in AllahabadSanjay Kanojia/ AFP
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An Indian boy swims in a muddy pool of water in MumbaiAdeel Halim/ Reuters