Every problem has a solution, but when it comes to dealing with water crisis, despite knowing every simple and practical solution available, this growing predicament is overlooked year after year. The result of this constant laxity is evident in many parts of the country, where the once-fertile lands have become dry and barren due to acute water shortage. Adding to this, both sweltering summer and water levels of reservoirs plummeting to historic lows have arisen some alarming questions on water security. Given the unpredictability of seasons, a delayed monsoon will only make matters worse and spell more trouble for many parts of the country. Here are some stark statistical evidences to shed more light on the alarming levels of water crisis – While you leave those faucets dripping, take a bit more time under the shower, or pour out the unused water a mineral water bottle, one among nine people around survive on unclean water, and nearly 3.4 million die every year from waterborne diseases. Our population continues to soar each day, but that increase has not been matched by a concurrent increase in fresh water supply.
The visual depiction of a village belle with a metal pitcher filled with water balanced on her head no more incites a romantic inspiration. Instead, with alarming levels of water scarcity, this image is the poignant indication of the country’s growing water crisis, especially during those scorching summer months when temperatures soar. Gone are the days when farmers’ suicides from a drought-affected village would hit headlines, trigger heated debates, force authorities to jump into action. With growing number of political scams and scandals that rock the country every single day, plight of farmers never make it to the local or national news.
The hard-hitting impacts of water crisis are not limited to the health and economic perils alone. The implications are far beyond agricultural and industrial woes. One among the many manifestations of water scarcity is the extraordinary tradition of polygamy that’s been practiced in numerous drought-hit villages. Several men from drought-stricken areas marry multiple times and saddle women with the taxing duty of fetching water from far-off places. In a country that prohibits polygamy by law and promotes women empowerment through endless much-publicized schemes, these unlawful marital arrangements are never resisted due to acute water shortage. Irrespective of being denied of any marital rights, these ‘paaniwaali bais’ continue their arduous routine every day, making repeated treks to nearby ponds, rivers, or dams to collect water. Such day-to-day gruelling walks take the worst toll on their health in no time. They soon go bald and often suffer from neck and spinal injuries
Despite knowing that the impacts of brutal summer has left many families devastated, no long-term plan has been devised by-far, and no sufficient measures have been taken to deal with the disaster. Adding to this shocking negligence and callous attitude is the gross misuse of water for making of helipads and cricket pitches, which indicates the alarming fact that not far is the day when a water riot might erupt at any part of the country. Though ‘water express’ trains are undoubtedly a commendable effort to supply quality drinking water to drought-hit areas, the need of the hour is not quick-fixes but long term solutions that help solve this staggering woe successfully. Securing water availability should not be limited to relying solely on dams, rivers, or bore-wells, but has to extend further with implementation of effective water saving and storage measures that prevent rapid depletion of ground water levels. However, other than, going gaga over rain water harvesting and desalination technologies that help store water, no significant efforts have been taken device and deploy such measures, or to clean and preserve polluted and dwindling water resources.
While several villages are reeling under acute drought and water shortage, Hiware Bazar, a village in Maharashtra, is a shining example of how proactive and sustainable efforts can help overcome water crisis. Thanks to the persistent efforts of the sarpanch, the villagers have never experienced water shortage in the last two decades. If Hiware Bazar can become an oasis amid parched villages, why can’t others follow the footsteps? Never dawdle; start saving and recycling every drop of water, or else, there will be nothing left to save.