Major Water CriSiS iMMiNENT

In the whole world, water, the 'most precious liquid', is increasingly turning to be a scarce resource. At Cherrapunjee which receives highest rainfall in India at 12,000 mm in summer, water trade raises its ugly face.

A situation where water has to be provided through tankers is a symptom of a still serious and complex disease.

Imagine this prospect: Within 20 years large parts of our country could be facing Ethiopia-like famine conditions every year. This is no wild guesswork. It is a scenario based on rigorous research by Sri Lanka-based International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

'India is in the throes of a major water crisis and the country seems least prepared to meet it,' contends Dr Tushaar Shah, principal scientist of IWMI. IWMI predicts that a large chunk of India could by 2025 face the same plight—absolute water scarcity—as parts of Sub-Saharan Africa do now.

A decrease in agricultural production due to water scarcity in a big country like ours and China would cause considerable demand for grains which in turn may lead to an increase in world market prices.

Well, this is just one of the many implications. Water scarcity would affect the human life and environment in a very adverse manner. As per the report of World Health Organisation (WHO), every year in the whole world, 3.4 million people die by drinking contaminated water. Many more suffer hardships and financial losses by water-borne diseases. As per the estimate of a UN study, 4,000 persons die every day from contaminated water—the 'silent killer'. That's why social workers always describe that providing safe drinking water is the biggest development for any country.

If one goes on searching, we in this country have location-specific lessons on rain harvesting to suit all agro-climatic zones. We have very sustainable systems in our ancient tanks, forts and even in deserts. Unfortunately, still many of such systems are not documented or are ill-documented. In fact, rain harvesting was very much here since many centuries. We have lessons enough to share with other third world countries as well.

Due to the advent of easier looking technologies, pipe water, tube well digging and athe state taking up the responsibility of water supply, people of our country started taking water for granted. Today, if you go to the nook and corners of the country, even in villages where wonderful, sustainable systems of rain harvesting or drought proofing were practised in olden times, the locals seem to have forgotten these now. Forget about the younger generation who didn't have an opportunity to see such systems in good condition, the elders who enjoyed the benefit once also seem to have added it to 'the bygone era'.

Continue reading here: DEARTH of iNFoRMATDN

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