water crisis

Water is the Elixir of Life. Can we think of life without water? The answer is a big ‘NO’. Every year during summer some parts of the country suffer from huge water crisis and this year is also no exception. But, what is really worrisome is that the problem has been getting aggravated every passing year. This year problem was so acute in Latur District of Maharashtra that Indian Railway had to send one train load of water to tackle the situation. But this situation is not peculiar to India. Worldwide the problem has been increasing over the years barring a miniscule number of countries like Bangladesh which are blessed by nature. Topography and Geography play a huge role when it comes to sufficiency or insufficiency of potable water. But the situation is worsening day by day due to the problems created by us.

Let us now jot down some of the known but very important facts about the most important constituent of Earth viz. Water:

  • 70% of the Earth is covered by water.
  • 70% of the human body consists of water.
  • The body needs 3 litres of water per day.
  • 8 in 9 people lack access to clean water.
  • 54% of the water supply is being used by the world’s population.
  • It takes 6 litres of water to flush a toilet.
  • A tap that drips once per second wastes 1 lac litres of water a year.
  • By 2025, all this usage and wastage will lead to 180 crore population living without water.
  • In just 40 years, the world’s population has doubled, and,
  • The demand for water has quadrupled.

To narrate the severity of water crisis, obviously during summer, I thought it worthwhile to cite a few facts  (Though these are known to many of you), as under:

  • The fountains / other water bodies which feed Godavari and Krishna rivers at the starting points in Maharashtra have dried up and as a result, the huge stretch of area on both the sides of both the rivers has been facing drought like situation for more than three months.
  • People in Vidarbha area are forcing trains to stop to collect water from the toilets of the trains to quench their thirst only. They have forgotten the other usages of water for quite long.
  • Many women and girls in Telengana and Maharashtra who are procuring water from sources 3 / 4 KM away since dawn died because of tiredness and sunstroke.
  • To tide over the crisis, Hon’ble High Court, Maharashtra directed BCCI not to hold IPL matches in Mumbai.
  • In Raghunathpur Sub-Division of Purulia District in West Bengal, there was no water supply for consecutive four days during May, 2016.
  • In California, there has been prolonged drought for last 2 / 3 years and because of scant / no rain, the forest is under wild fire and it is not getting controlled.

Going by the above facts as also recent happenings in India and many other countries, it can safely be said that the water crisis has aggravated beyond an accepted level and is still on the rise. Under the circumstances, we have no hesitation in accepting the fact that if at all there is any Third World War, it will be only (repeat only) because of potable water.

We shall now dwell upon the issues which are responsible for such a sorry state of affairs. In other words, what went wrong that led to such a catastrophic situation in respect of potable water. A few such reasons are as under:

  • Global Warming has played / been playing a havoc in climate change of the World. As a result, while some areas have been receiving abnormal rains causing floods, some are not getting even bare minimum rains leading to droughts.
  • Another major factor is El Nino which has been disturbing the world environment beyond expectation.
  • Increase in population has created / is creating huge pressure on land with increased urbanisation, wide roads, large number of dwelling houses, etc. These in turn entail ruthless felling of trees, filling up and closure of water bodies like ponds, lakes, etc. As a result, the conservation of rain water which is highly essential for increase in underground water level, has been given a total go bye.
  • Increased demand for more food grains and other eatables due to ever increasing population has led to increase in pressure on land. Similarly, increase in demand for water has created huge pressure on underground water and the length of pipeline deep inside the earth has been continuously increasing. Moreover, huge concentration of dwelling houses / flats in urban / metro centres has also created disproportionately high demand for potable water from underground as other resources have already dried up.
  • Barring a few places, the concept as well as facility of rain water harvesting is not there in our country. As a result, the rain water which is free and in plenty is finding no use and is flowing back to the sea.
  • Again, like other resources, water is being used by rich people according to their whims and fancies. This disproportionate and lavish usage of water by a handful of households has created problems to the mass.
  • In certain areas having abundance of water, there is ruthless wastage of water as nobody bothers to stop the flow when not in use. Moreover, water flows continuously through the taps in the absence of any stopper – either stolen or broken.

So, water crisis has set in and the situation has been getting aggravated with the passage of time. However, the solution lies with us, rather with each one of us. We believe in the concept: Every problem has a solution provided we have the right approach and attitude. We shall now discuss on the steps we need to take to tackle this serious issue.

  • The first and foremost step in this direction is to create awareness among the people about the problem and then to suggest them possible steps, certainly location specific, to be initiated to tide over the situation. To that end, all Government and Non-Government agencies, Societies, Clubs, Institutions, etc. should make it a point to tell people about the importance of water, how to save water, how to avoid misuse / wastage of water, how to conserve water, etc.
  • It is very unfortunate but very glaringly true that rich people in cities do not have any concern for this invaluable natural resource and they have been wasting huge water at the cost of poor people. The time has come to make them aware that they cannot consume water as per their wishes though they have money.
  • Water harvesting has to be made mandatory in all such cities / towns / places which perennially suffer from rain shortfall and water crisis. No plan for building construction should be approved without provision for water harvesting.
  • As proposed by the Govt. of India, linking of rivers will be a unique and grand solution towards tackling of water crisis.
  • Construction of dams / reservoirs has helped the country to conserve water and utilise the water resources for multiple purposes. The need of the hour is to construct many more large, medium and small dams more particularly, the check dams to help conserve water flowing through rivers without much use.
  • Even if it not possible to harvest and / or conserve water in true sense of the terms, the benefit of conserving water by getting it absorbed by the earth is immense. People need to be told on this aspect of water conservation which can be done by digging ponds and small holes, passing the rain water through soak-pits, holding rain water in lands for a reasonable period of time, etc.
  • Another indirect mode of water conservation is mass plantation which will not only help to conserve water but also will ensure conservation of soil.
  • A baby step but very relevant in the context of bottled water is that we must not waste any water served during any meeting / workshop. You will agree with me that bottled water once opened by someone will never be reused by any other person and as a result, there happens to be huge wastage of pure and costly water everyday across the country. My suggestion is that if you are not in a position to consume the entire water in a bottle, please carry the bottle with you for subsequent consumption.
Pulak Kumar Sinha

Pulak Kumar Sinha

I am a retd. General Manager at State Bank of India. I am a Certified Associate of Indian Institute of Bankers and have a P.G. Diploma in Management from All India Management Association (AIMA).
I joined SBI as a Probationary Officer in 1981. Since then, I have worked in various capacities as Branch Manager, Regional Manager and Deputy General Manager at different places. My specialised areas are Credit and General Banking.
I also was Chairperson of Reserve Bank of India Working Group on Evaluation of Feasibility of Aadhaar based Biometric Authentication as Additional factor of Authentication for card present transactions and related issues.
Pulak Kumar Sinha

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Water Crisis – Who are Responsible & What can we do about it

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