Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Let's try and get this right. Or left.

“On a map of India, mark the districts in terms of forest wealth - where the rich and dense tree cover is found. Then overlay the water wealth - the sources of streams and rivers. On this, plot the mineral wealth - iron ore, coal, bauxite and all things shiny that make economies rich. Then, mark on this wealth of India, another indicator - districts where the poorest people of our country live. These are also the tribal districts of the country. You will find a complete match. The richest lands are where the poorest live. Now complete this cartography of the country with the colour red. These are the same districts where Naxalites roam, where the government admits it is fighting a battle with its own people, who use the gun to terrorize and kill. Clearly, here is a lesson we need to learn about bad development.” - Sunita Narain

Saturday, 3 April 2010

So, whose water problem is it anyway?

(This is an interactive article. The sentences marked in red will lead you to interesting links, videos and resources. Please feel free to use them in the war against the biggest crisis of our times.)

Those of us who buy bottled water without thinking twice should shut up about the water problem. We deserve it. And we deserve what is going to happen in the future. We deserve the water mafia. We deserve corporatisation of water. We deserve the foul smelling water dripping from taps. We deserve to pay a hundred times more for water. With every litre consumed.

Why, you ask.

For if we had questioned that why don’t we get clean water in our taps we would not be here in the first place - throwing our hands in despair while a handful of people hold our water supply to ransom.

Those of us living in cities where monsoon is aplenty deserve to pay hefty sums for water tankers and fill our tanks with worm infested water. We deserve the trickle supply from the municipal corporation.

Why, you ask.

Why indeed the question would come back to us. Why isn’t our building or house equipped with a water harvesting system? Who will come and do it for us? If we don’t know how water harvesting can solve our water problems, whose fault is it? We have access to more information than any other generation of people in any other age. What stops us from googling water harvesting and finding out just how we can benefit from it.

Those of us living in cities where rivers used to run fresh, deserve the gutters these rivers have become. We deserve the Yamuna and the Mithi and the Ganga and the Chambal. Polluted and out of breath.

We deserve the gutters and our complains should end up like bags of degraded plastic thrown in the river at 2000 per second.

Why, you ask.

Why indeed the question will fill our nostrils like stench. Why don’t we come out in numbers and protest. It’s our rivers. If the land mafia would rather they run dry then take the land mafia to task. If the industries would rather they carried effluents and not water, then let the industries know that there are far bigger things than profit.

Fresh water is disappearing fast from the face of this planet. And in India we used to have enough. We wasted it. We are wasting it. Millions of litres every second. There is only one thing we must remember. It’s not government’s water. It’s not municipality’s water. It’s not Coca-Cola’s water. It’s our water. It’s our problem. And we will have to solve it. Unfortunately it will require more than us using 5 litres less water every day. It will require us asking some serious questions. Addressed to ourselves, to begin with.

Further reading:

India’s Imminent Water Crisis

Water Pollution in India