HOWSOEVER hot the summer may be, fortunately, which area would get more rains and which area would get less, yet depends on the mother nature in Bharat and not on ‘may be’ and ‘may not be’ politicians who think they can predict even the rainfall. Yes, which area to get a dam and which area to get damned sure are planned by such politicians. I seem to have joined the bandwagon of those who debate summers and rains. As a child as a farmer’s son in a small Sourashtra village, we all used to wait for the rains for good crop. The rains never failed us then and even if the rains were a bit delayed, the stored water under the mother earth and from the wells came in handy. Now here is the real hitch today. Just 30 years back, Bharat never cried for water. There were famines and droughts, but never did Bharat see a neighbour shooting a neighbour dead over a water struggle! Farmers got worried even that time but they had options of village well, stored water in the ponds and lakes etc.
Urbanisation did not take away village water. There is no point in blaming every modern menace on the cities. But industrialisation did take away water meant for agriculture. When industries needed for any nation grow with proper resources planning, then this does not happen. But when in the name of reformed economy and fancy FDI, when the governments forced entire Bharat for ‘surrogacy’-using Bharat as manufacturing unit for the final produce to be exported-then that was perhaps the first outsourcing that the multinational companies did. This drained Bharat of Her many resources-water, farm land, clean air, sufficient electricity, precious raw materials like minerals, coal, crude oil, etc.
Thirty years back except a few most rivers used to be a big source of water for the towns, cities and villages even in summers. Even if they do not have enough water then there were lakes, ponds and wells. Himalayan rivers never dried up in summers then. Industrial waste and urban-semi urban sewerages not only dirtied this big source of water but eventually dried up many rivers. For various types of ‘parasitical’ growth which were gloriously termed ‘development’, ‘reforms’ ancient lakes, kunds and wells ‘vanished’! For residential colonies, electric tower units, swanky malls, IT parks, five star industrial estates, golf courses, star hotels and for huge industrial units, many lakes, kunds, ponds, wells and in some places like Mumbai even the rivers-‘vanished’! Go to Kashi and you would see that only Three per cent of ancient lakes (kunds) and wells (koop) can be seen now. They had big quantity of Ganga water which was a gift of pure water beds under the earth. But due to city sewerages, industrial effluents and other dirt going into Ganga and due to converting such lakes and wells into a land for buildings, there is water shortage even in Kashi! Then what would be the tragedy of other rivers, wells and lakes!
Yes, there were famines but hardly any farmer committed suicide for want of water then! Today, due to the compulsion to pull water from deeper and deeper inside the earth, even for a well the farmer has to take a big loan! Chemical fertilizers and pesticides have a lot to contribute for the water woos of the farmers.
Natural fertilizers like cow dung, conserved water. On the other hand chemical fertilizers drink up more water and even dry up the water under the earth. Due to unsteady or mostly low water in the rivers there’s low or unsteady rainfall and no other source of water available. This is not a Greek tragedy; this is Bharat’s man-made tragedy.
Farmers take water but give food. Industries take water and give poisonous effluents. OK, they do give employment and products which the modern man needs, but why Nike, GE, P&G, Colgate, HLL, Boeing and the likes have to have huge manufacturing units which were allowed on the promise of local employment but cheated Bharat by mostly adopting automation/ robotisation of their units ‘to avoid local labour trouble’ as they boast! Except for a few Indian industries that too do use Bharat’s natural resources but also give a lot to Bharat in return; these FDI ‘surrogacy’ has drained out Bharat’s natural resources. Urban and semi-urban growth beyond control gobbles up over 40 per cent of Bharat’s water without giving any natural resource or any concrete positive output for Bharat. From posh bungalows to row houses societies and from sky-scrapers to various housing colonies-all have multiplied usage of water. There used to be little houses with small gardens around which mostly grew on waste water of that house or most homes in Rajasthan and I am sure in many other parts of Bharat, had their own rain-water storing system. It used to be either a home pond or a little well. Now these small houses are turning into sky-scrapers. So where 10 people used the water available around and those too making provisions of water for summers, thousands of people are using the same water resource! There came bore-wells.
Ultimately all the above has resulted into non-conservation of water in Bharat. Bore-well is the worse ever demon for Bharat’s water. These drill-deep machines not only drain out water under their own areas but also dry up our Mother Earth from within! It is like putting own mother in the fire and yet expecting her to feed you! Mother Earth has not only dried up now, but if the international and national reports are to be believed, then it is throwing up lava. The recent eruption of volcanoes scared many. If we dry up various layers of mother earth then the plates sure will move up and down throwing lava out.
Severe water shortage in Bharat (or in many developing countries) are also causing human rioting for water! Perhaps the third world war would be fought for water!
But we all cannot sit and do nothing about it. We all can follow 7 ‘R’s. That is reuse, recycle, recharge, rework, re-engineer, reorganise and then rejoice! In some ways few people have already started doing this. But such a demonic crisis needs national togetherness to resolve. In urban and semi-urban areas housing colonies, schools, colleges should focus of rain-water harvesting. This year’s monsoon is fast approaching. If we do not allow the rain-water to vanish without conserving it then we should be ashamed of ourselves! Under the guidance of an expert water conservationist (not an activist; but a professional engineer!), housing colonies can create a pond for rain-water to be stored. This would also go deep in the mother earth reviving the dull gardens around and also enable the societies not to depend on the dirty water of tankers. The same way schools and colleges can do it not just for their own use but for the use of the area, town or village they are in. It would be a great project for the students as well. Industrial colonies and units too should follow this model but in a big way.
There can be small check-dams in small rivers to help rain-water spread around and go deep in all the flow areas before it vanishes into the sea and then becomes useless for human usage. In Gujarat and in some parts of Bharat for past 20 years it is being done in some areas. It sounds nice to speak about sweetening the sea to overcome water shortage. It is like hiring a stranger as a mother when you have your own! Governments too, instead of giving hollow promises or showing fancy big dams or sweet sea dreams, must start helping all such water conservation projects, getting old wells repaired and activated, rebuilding lakes, strictly preventing industrial and urban waste from going into rivers and in the sea. Big publicity or showing or our ancestors’ or predecessors’ work as own is not development; understanding real needs of aam aadmi and doing focused, smartly planned work for them is development. We, in a small way have planned few such rain water conservation projects through ‘Kisaan Mitra’ (Friends of Farmers) and Kisaan Council. Even you can do a lot-while enjoying the monsoon droplets after the hottest summer, let us create 12 months monsoon water magic around us!
(The writer is a renowned Cancer Surgeon and International Secretary General of VHP. He can be contacted on [email protected])