The rains have finally hit Mumbai after a long spell of summer. And everybody is rejoicing. No one is complaining of traffic delays, clothes not drying or not being able to play outdoors.
With no rains in Chennai, there’s an acute water shortage in the city. Its been all over the news since the last few weeks that school hours have been reduced, employees have been asked to work from home and those who go to work have been asked to carry their own water. Chennai is struggling to meet its water requirements and water is being sent from Kerala in tankers to help with the water crisis. Chennai is a wake-up call. On the east coast of India with the Indian Ocean on its border, Chennai reminds me of the lines from “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Water, water everywhere. But not a drop to drink.
The delay in the rains have meant fall in water levels in the reservoirs. ‘Mumbai has sufficient water to support the city’s requirements until July,‘ so stated the newspapers.
‘Groundwater levels will completely dry up in 21 cities in India by 2020,’ another headline reads. ‘Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai will go the Chennai way,’ reads another. A common thread between these cities is that they have the greatest minds – minds that in the name of progress spread their tentacles thoughtlessly, eating up the water bodies. There was money to build buildings around the lakes and selling apartments at premium prices with taglines stating, ‘A view of the lake,’ but no money to save the lake. The lake close to our home is a good example. The Powai lake, a landmark which once met the water needs of Powai, currently stands covered in water hyacinths.We even took part in a run last year called the ‘Nisarga run,’ where money was collected to save the lake. A year on, there is no change in the state of the lake.
The water issue in India is no longer a solitary problem. Its critical and screams for immediate attention, not only by India but by the world. There is need for a think-tank to save water and store rain-water. Watching rain-water slide away into the ocean or a gutter or get evaporated or watching water bodies being replaced by high-rise buildings, is distressful. Water conservation is as important as border security. We must save ourselves from our own mistakes before attempting to save ourselves from our enemies.
With the rains being delayed, there were what’s app messages doing the rounds asking people to meditate on the rain. ‘The power of positivity,’ it was called.
Well, I’m not sure if the meditation worked or S.W. Monsoons simply arrived late, thanks to global warming (again our own doing. ‘Our,’ as in the human race). I’m not saying meditations do not work. Why shouldn’t they? Even if a million of the billion in the country meditated or showed ‘positive intent,’ God would have to listen. That is the power of the mind. But I’m not talking about that.
I’m talking about the monsoons arriving late. I’m talking about drinking water being in short supply. I’m talking about the need for joint action to save water.
While it is crucial for the government and the corporates to find better ways to save this elixir of life and not let it flow into the ocean wastefully, there are simple things we can do at our end:
- Fix all dripping taps in your home. Every drop of water counts and I’m not exaggerating. Try going a day without water or think of living a day with just one bottle of water. One bottle to drink, to wash your face…you would make the best use of it
- Add an aerator to your taps. Its a small device that reduces the water flow from your taps thereby avoid unnecessary loss of water. Even if you are the most frugal person when it comes to using water and you do turn off your taps while brushing your teeth etc., you’d still be losing water when the tap’s turned on, if it doesn’t have an aerator. An aerator isn’t expensive. Its available on Amazon. If you’re a home owner, have it fixed on your flats, even the ones you rent out.
- Reuse, recycle water. Use the water you use to clean your vegetables to water your plants
- Fill a bucket to have a bath instead of taking a shower. Apparently even a 5 minute shower uses 35 litres of water against a normal sized bucket which carries 20 litres.
To the government or whoever is in charge, steps should be taken to
- Ensure that all buildings – homes, hotels, offices, have aerators fixed on their taps so its no longer arbitrary.
- Secondly water usage should be charged and so should sewage water. Simply follow, ‘Use and pay.’ While many may not agree to it, if we don’t do it now, a time will come when water will be more expensive than gold and even then will not be available to meet our needs. As human beings, we value things that we pay for. Free is always treated as worthless, and used without gratitude.
- Get rid of tubs in homes, hotels etc. I know it sounds drastic. But even if usage of water is charged, it is criminal to fill a tub with salts and soak in it while somewhere in the world, people are dying because of lack of water.
These are just a few that I can think of as now based on what I’ve read in the papers and magazine articles on water conservation. But if you have any more ideas, please feel free to share as a comment. Let’s put it into action and spread the word around.
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P.C. From the Net
For no bomb or weapon can kill as many as the absence of water.