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Water is critical for sustainable development

Linking the intense heat wave and drought to environmental degradation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made a strong pitch for a mass movement to save forests and conserve ‘every drop’ of water during the upcoming monsoon season. During the summer heat wave repeats year after year and in 2016 it is even more. We should be prepared. Water sources should be created. Unmindful of bad impact on the ecology, we have been destroying forests, drying up lakes by filling mud and construction of buildings, unplanned urbanization, and like. Greed has no bounds. Small trees are cut ruthlessly. On the other hand we do not want to reduce harms of infinite solar heat by adopting the simplest methods of keeping premises solar passive like white roofs and planting trees drip irrigated by self harvested infinite water.

William Ashworth has said that “Children of a culture born in a water-rich environment, we have never really learned how important water is to us. We understand it, but we do not respect it.” India is one of the many countries that face water scarcity today. Water covers two-thirds of the surface of the earth, but fresh water is only 0.002% on the planet.

Water is central to our lives but has not been the central point of focus in our planning while we rapidly evolve into an urban society. Water is critical for sustainable development, including environmental integrity and the alleviation of poverty and hunger, and is indispensable for human health and well-being.

The water scarcity is mostly man made due to excess population growth and mismanagement of water resources. Water scarcity can be defined as a situation when people don’t have enough water to fulfil their basic needs.

There is an acute water shortage in almost all the cities due to changed lifestyle of people. Most of our lakes have dried up. Ground water levels are abysmally low, besides being contaminated. There is not enough water for the city’s burgeoning population.

On must remember that India’s economy is heavily dependent on agriculture. Rain water harvesting can also be used effectively to strengthen irrigation networks. There are plenty of ways to save and recycle water. Fix all leaking taps in your house. Seventy to 150 liters of water are wasted due to dripping taps. As long as water flows from our taps we are satisfied. We don’t understand the value of water. One can purify the stored water and use it for various purposes like washing, cleaning and cooking.

The government needs to enhance its investment in technology and include all stakeholders at the planning level to ensure optimization of existing resources. Increasing population and rapid urbanization has led to over-use of water resources leading to water pollution and scarcity. Rain, rivers and wells have been man’s traditional sources of fresh water. Global warming upsets natural patterns of rainfall. Rivers are slowly killed at their sources by steady destruction of forests and the construction of big dams, and overdevelopment of groundwater.

Development cannot be reversed. But technology could be reoriented to serve the dual purpose of conserving water and regulating its use. We have to pay attention to the importance of fresh water and be able to maintain the management of fresh water resources. Don’t we think leaving aside global solutions; something should be done at the national and regional levels?

It is rightly said “A drop of water is worth more than a sack of gold to a thirsty man.”

Vinod Chandrashekar Dixit

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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