Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Drinking Water Crisis: Wake Up!!!!!

Consider the following points.

· I live on a second floor apartment in Mohali, Punjab. Mohali can be called a developed city in a rich state in India. My family does not have access to fresh drinking water quite like many in my neighborhood, city, state and country.

· In most metros in India, it is an accepted fact of life that drinking water will be a major problem, wherever you choose to live.

· The number of incidents of gastro cases and their severity has gone up in all hospitals.

· In many places on this planet, people have to walk for miles for drinking water.

If things go the way they are going today, in less than a decade, all of us will face an acute drinking water crisis. The biggest problems mankind is facing today are the food crisis, the water crisis and the energy crisis. But the noise on energy, especially oil has relegated food and water crisis into the background.

As I understand, I am much better off than people living in the vast hinterland of India especially towards the centre and the west, where access to drinking water assumes critical nature. Around the world when the media and the political establishments are bickering over prices of crude, no one is talking of this silent but ominous threat. Are we even bothered??? If yes what are we doing about it?? And if no, is it because the water bill in any household will be a max. Rs. 35???

Satish, a dear colleague and me recalled these points lamenting the issue:

· He says that in his neighborhood, most people indiscriminately use drinking water for watering lawns, washing cars and other wasteful activities. This is despite a law against such misuse of water and by educated people.
· He recalled an incident when he saw more than 10 ambulances being “thoroughly” washed inside the premises of a government hospital. The best part: After the washing orgy, the gentlemen concerned left without bothering to turn the tap off. Satish had to take the initiative to that!!
· A discussion with few MBA students, revealed that none even had an inkling about the issue.

Have you ever heard anyone in this country discuss an issue of such importance??? At least I haven’t.

Have you ever heard even a single politician, irrespective of his or her ideological affiliations talk of this issue?? Promising taps and pumps is another matter.

The facts are simple: One day we will thirst for clean drinking water because of the following:
· The indiscriminate usage patterns,
· The tendency to waste,
· The increasing population
· The increasing migration of population to the cities

There is approximately 1.4 billion cubic km. of water on this planet. Only 1% is the freh water in the hydrological cycle and of this too only 0.1% is the water in rivers, streams and lakes which is fit for human consumption (Reference: http://discovery.bits-pilani.ac.in/discipline/chemical/bvb/FrshwaterE&P98.pdf ). Beleive me there is very little water and we are wasting it indiscriminately.
I am writing this with the knowledge that I cannot change the way people live their lives. I am writing this with the hope that I will be able to ignite a few thoughts in the minds of my students. Conservation of drinking water is not a choice, it is a necessity. Please follow the law and try to reduce wastage of drinking water wherever possible. Even turning of the tap while brushing your teeth or shaving will be a good start.

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