This article was published in the Editorial of ENVIRO ANNOTATIONS on 25th September 2019
A young girl asked an old man, “Hello Uncle, can you give me a bucket of water?” The old man replied, sure, my child. Then he counted on fingers and said it will cost you Rs. 2500/=. The girl got shocked. What? That’s too much of pity, she said. The old man replied, how come? Till there was plenty of water, you never bothered. This was a seamless play performed by a young, vibrant dramatic group in Delhi. Are we really approaching that situation? India receives the maximum rainfall in the world. Average annual rainwater received in India is 35 crore hectare liter against a demand of 12 to 15 crore hectare liter water. Thus, India is a water surplus country.
The Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat had questioned once, about the impact of Jal Shakti Abhiyaan. It is visible. In Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook, newspaper, TV, Radio and roadside tea, beetle stalls, everywhere – talk of water is ubiquitous. An IT professional from Bengaluru shared a message that he has abdicated use of jeans apparels because such products are water intensive during manufacturing. It is, however, important to know the water footprint of a product during its complete life cycle that includes stages of manufacturing as well as during the entire period of use. Groups of children in RWAs have become water guardians. Instead of enjoying vacations, in some societies children became a green army and water warriors to identify houses with frequently overflowing tanks and taught them lessons to stop misuse of water. Government officials, Individuals, NGOs, institutions – Jal Shakti Movement has created a compelling impact.
Some advertisements of the Ministry are seemingly drifted towards the fun side. Posting the photograph of Dabang with a punchline “Paani se darr nahi lagta Sahab” evades the seriousness of the grave issue. Similarly, advertising the subject with Hindi Cinema star like Aamir Khan, who has earlier done commercial promotions of the rigorous water intensive soft drink industry also seems far from befitting. Instead, the Ministry may change the dynamics of advertisements with data and numbers. For example, previous year rainfall received versus volume of rainwater harnessed and the same data for the current year after the massive movement started – could give a clear message to the nation. The groundwater and surface water quality could also be an indicator in this regard. As the Prime Minister himself has raised the issue more than once, different ministries may unite to prepare data. The MoEF&CC may ask for specific reports on qualitative and quantitative data on water from the projects accorded with environmental clearance. Similarly, the CGWA/CGWB, MoJS may also demand similar reports from the projects accorded with approval for groundwater abstraction. A holistic deliberation could bring in a far better impact on society.
Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind shared a tweet on September 24, 2019 “Managing and mapping groundwater resources is also an important aspect of water governance. The widespread use of boring machines has led to unregulated and excessive exploitation of groundwater. We have to value our groundwater and be responsible.” Shri Umakant Umrao, IAS, mentioned in a presentation that during the last 30 years, Rs. 8 to 10 Lakh Crore spent on bore well drilling. If this amount could have been spent in rainwater harvesting, the scenario could have been different. There is a need to identify illegal exploration of groundwater. Technology and devices should be made available to trace legal or illegal borewells. Whether work in this direction has started? If yes, it needs to be promoted and highlighted. Let us repose on the adage – Action speaks louder.
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