War for Water !
Water scarcity is a scorching topic as summer picks up. And this year, this has been bit early as it has become too intense, too early, sending an alarming signal of severe water crisis in the days to come when summer matures further in May and June. It is a paradox and maybe quixotic that India, with a total water of over 3 trillion Cu.M., which is the equivalent to over 7,000 L water per day to every one of the 1,280 million population (all the 365 days), is struggling for water. The fact is that nearly 90 per cent of the available surface water is wasted, without either storing or conserving. Another fact is that by conserving another 5 per cent of the total water available, India would become totally self-sufficient in water for all the needs. Thus, even if we were to waste a total of 85 per cent of our water, India still has all the water needed. Maharashtra, which has been witnessing drought year after year, too falls in the same category. The problem is not non-availability of water, but it is human inefficiency, nonchalance and apathy. Every government must consider providing water for all the needs of all people as the prime job. For, here it is noteworthy that in the name of development, we ruined our water bodies. Industries and real estate sharks suck all the underground water. Despite repeated warnings, criminal exploitation of water is continuing, not without the knowledge of officials and public representatives. The damage done is irreversible. Hence, is it real economic growth? Jobs can be created not at the cost of plundering our natural resources. Jobs can be created by developing our forests, water bodies, recycling waste and nurturing our flora and fauna. Against this backdrop, it is not a surprising news that dams go dry in hot summer. It is an annual feature. Rather than wasting water, the government could have done better by focussing on the significance of maintaining dams, lakes when they go dry, strengthening their bunds, deepening to augment their storage capacity, etc. Respective state governments must carry out their annual maintenance in maintaining their water resources during such lean period. But it is hardly seen that any effective measures are taken. Each drop of rain water must be saved and harvested and sent back to the earth to augment ground water. Run-off surface water needs to be arrested and many more check dams have to be built to meet the water needs of the local villages. Tens and hundreds of mini tanks and ponds need to be dug in the water-starved areas like Latur to harvest the rain water and save it, which, in the longer run, would augment the ground water in the area.
Even after more than 60 years of Independence, our country has not done much to conserve the water resources. The main source of water, which comes from rain, is not harvested. The nation has seen destruction of forests, reservoirs, mountains, which, on mass scale, is resulting in irregular rainfall, causing floods in some place and drought in other areas. So, it would be apt to mention here that deforestation is not only the major factor for reduction in and uncertainty of rainfall but it also supports soil loss on account of un-barrier to run-off, which reduces biomass availability. This results in low agriculture produce, and thus inadequate sustention provision for villagers. Owing to irregular and insufficient rainfall, insecurity of drinking water prevails throughout the year and the upper most layer of the area is totally desiccated with no vegetation. Rapid falling of trees/scrub and overgrazing has intensified and added to the problems of excessive run-off and soil erosion. Farmers are doing shallow ploughing of their lands and carrying out other tillage practices, which has accentuated this. Common lands of village or watershed area are not paid attention for productive purpose. The rapidly degrading ecology of the watershed can be restricted and reversed by a considerable reduction in soil erosion and excessive run-off through water harvesting works and boost in agricultural productivity. Though late, it is time to introspect the damage caused by greed, senseless inroads into forest areas, tree cutting without any forethought, pollution, unplanned urbanisation, which has led to this very life-threatening situation. Here, it is also worth mentioning that in their nomination papers filed recently, Tamil Nadu CM, J. Jayalalithaa revealed her assets to the tune of Rs. 113.7 crore, while her arch rival, DMK chief M. Karunanidhi is worth Rs. 63 crore. There are lakhs of people in the country having billions in their pocket but a majority of them never endeavour to engender social uplift activities so as to bring a smile on the face of the needy–be it water, food or something else. So, let us all join hands to reverse the situation. Every child in the family should be taught about the value of natural greenery, vegetation and tree planting. Let us teach our children the benefits of simple living in time of scarcity and adversity.