Water conservation is a major task in India

By Binoy Viswam. Dated: 7/12/2019 10:50:21 AM

Prime Minister has to link it with environment

In the first edition of mann ki baat, soon after assuming the office of the Prime Minister for his second term Narendra Modi consciously underscored the importance of water. In the celebrated address before rather big an audience which included celebrities like Amit Shah he opened his mind like this: "...My first request is like we made Swachchata Abhiyan, a mass movement; similarly let's start a mass movement for water conservation. We should together resolve the water crisis by saving every drop of water. Let's start an awareness campaign to save water and its related problems." He exhorted the people to save water through various measures. In this regard, Modi said, "keeping in mind the importance of water, we have created the Jal Shakti ministry. It is made to take decisions on all water-related issues and it will now be taken at a fast pace." When more than half of the geographical area of the country witnesses severe shortage of water it is quite natural from the part of a prime minister to stress on the importance of water. According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the Niti Aayog in 2018, 21 major cities (Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad and others) are racing to reach zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting access for 100 million people.
The CWMI report also states that by 2030, the country's water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual six per cent loss in the country's GDP. After two consecutive years of weak monsoons, 330 million people, a quarter of the country's population are affected by a severe drought. With nearly 50 per cent of India grappling with drought-like conditions, the situation has been particularly grim this year in western and southern states that received below average rainfall.
Situation in the country vice versa availability of water is really alarming. Following Chennai, cities after cities are staring at the face of severe water crisis. In India abundance of water had become an old story decades back itself. Neither the planners nor the government, in that case both political parties and people at large, were approaching the issue with least botheration. Some of them even pooh-poohed the environmentalists and the scientists who cautioned about the impending danger. In the early days, when the world came to know about global warming, for the first time we heard the word 'climate refugees'. It alerted us about climate change which is the inevitable outcome of global warming and about this new species of refugees. But in the unbridled quest for 'development' most of us were not in a mood to lend our ears to the warning of the gigantic danger. Now we have come to a point that we cannot afford the ridiculous luxury of closing our eyes to the realities, as if nothing has happened.
It is a good step that the government has formed a new department-the Jal Shakti department. The new department with a minister, with additional funds, army of bureaucrats and their paraphernalia would definitely try to do something, we hope. But the acute water crisis cannot be properly addressed through the conventional way of doing things. The economics and politics of water attain unquestionable significance in this context. One has to apply his/her mind to the organic relationship between globalisation and global warming.
Many of the people including economists, politicians and scientists often forget to look at this very important aspect. Many of them analyse the problem only in a philosophical or moral angle. At the most they may touch some of its social aspects also. The fact is that globalisationand global warming are the children of same parents. They are the global corporates and their unending greed for super profits. In this regard a usage from a UN human rights report is worth mentioning. That usage is nothing but ' water apartheid'. That term knowingly or unknowingly speaks a lot. Yes, at this critical crossroad of human development, there exists an apartheid.
And everybody knows who the sinner is and who the victim is. In this new form of apartheid where water draws the dividing line of discrimination the rich and the poor stands at different poles. It is the rich who runs the chariot of globalisation. It is they who throw the humanity to the deserts of global warming. Every meaningful search to solve the water crisis has to understand this fact. Policies and measures which ignore this are destined to fail.
We may call it the politics of water. It is everybody's guess that how far the Jal Sakthi department of the Narendra Modi government can grasp the gravity and relevance of this politics. Its proclaimed goal is to provide pipe water to each and every household in the country by 2024.
For the conservation of water protection of its sources is of cardinal importance. Though the Prime Minister and his government sermon a lot about water, they are not at all concerned about the protection of its sources. Nobody can deny the truth that forests, mountain, rivers and other water bodies are the essential sources of water. And all these sources are facing serious threats from those forces who are only bothered about their vested interests revolving around profits. For them today's profit alone is the matter. What will happen tomorrow and for future generations is not their concern. Environmental protection is something obscene for them.
They are the economic masters and political cousins of the government. That is why the government prefer to succumb before their interests even at the cost of environmental disaster. This kind of illicit compromises are often made in the name of development. For their mode of development, 'ease of doing business' is the key word. Protagonists of this view point have least consideration for nature and natural resources. They never understand the significance of water and the interconnection between nature and water. The more they do harm to nature, the more they destroy the sources of water. Without water there is no development. For the sustainability of real development, availability of water is undoubtedly a precondition.
The approach adopted by Modi government .towards environment and forest laws shows that they are not so keen to protect nature. On the contrary, government tries to intervene in all environment and forest related laws in order to dilute them to suit the wishes of 'ease of doing business'. Forests and environment in our country thus, are faced with gravest threat. Ecologically sensitive areas like Western Ghats are ruthlessly encroached. Needless to say, that all such irresponsible acts will affect water resource of this vast land. Without addressing such issues the rulers are not going to conserve water or preserve it for future. Perhaps, Prime Minister Narendra Modi would tell the people about his environment and forest policy, may be in the next edition of 'mann ki baat'. Otherwise, these big talks about water would remain nothing but a futile exercise!
—(IPA Service)



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