Catastrophe In Making

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 18 Nov 2018 11:34:20


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every year there is water scarcity in various parts of Delhi. Due to environmental imbalance rains have fizzled and become erratic which further leads to the drought-like situation in the country.


Excessive use has also led to depletion of groundwater irrevocably. In most cities, residential colonies depend on tanker water for six months of the year. Water distribution and management are going to be the most challenging task before Governments in the 22nd century. The water crisis is a global catastrophe in the making and countries are devising myriad ways to brace up for the challenges.

 

THE National Green Tribunal (NGT) has recently directed the AAP Government and the Delhi University to submit within about a fortnight a list of buildings which have not installed rainwater harvesting system.


A bench of Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore and expert member SS Garbyal passed the order noting that they had not furnished the list despite the order of the tribunal. The tribunal’s direction came on a plea filed by a city resident Mahesh Chandra Saxena seeking the implementation of November 16, 2017, order of the NGT which had directed the Government as also private schools and colleges to install rainwater harvesting systems within two months at their own cost. Despite the specific direction of the tribunal, they had not submitted the list of buildings, Saxena said.


He claimed that the Government departments, educational institutions and residential societies had either not installed rainwater harvesting systems or had systems which were non-functional. The tribunal had ordered that any institution which failed to install the rainwater harvesting system within the stipulated period would be liable to pay environment compensation of Rs 5 lakh. It had directed schools and colleges to approach a committee constituted by it.


The committee was to inspect the premises and grant permission to institutions for operating the system. If it was not possible to install a rainwater harvesting system, the institution should approach the committee, it had said. According to the tribunal, the institution that gets an exemption certificate will be subject to environment compensation, which would be used for setting up rainwater harvesting systems in possible nearby areas, including parks.


The ruling was perfect and most appropriate one in the current settings of our urban water infrastructure.
Every year, half of the country reels under grave water crisis which is only growing year by year. Delhi is a rapidly growing urban agglomeration and to provide clean potable water to its 18 million citizens is a challenge for any Government. Every year, there is water scarcity in various parts of Delhi. Due to environmental imbalance rains have fizzled and become erratic which further leads to the drought-like situation in the country. Whatever rainwater we get in the three months of the year go waste due to lack of storing and preserving techniques and infrastructure. Excessive use has also led to depletion of groundwater irrevocably. In most cities, residential colonies depend on tanker water for six months of the year. Water distribution and management are going to be the most challenging task before Governments in the 22nd century. The water crisis is a global catastrophe in the making and countries are devising myriad ways to brace up for the challenges.


India is unfortunately still way behind though it is one of the countries worst hit by the phenomenon. Since most of the sufferers are still the poor and the middle class, there is not much alacrity shown by the powers that be in solving the recurrent problem. There is a colossal waste in some quarters while there are people waging bloody wars over water.


The most practical and easy way to get over this problem to a great extent is to conserve water. The culture of conserving water is amiss in our society. Most people don’t even know the value and process of saving water. But when Government organisations, with all the wherewithal at their disposal, and in blatant disregard of NGT mandate don’t take measures to save water, there is no excuse and such organisations deserve strict punitive action.


It is sheer negligence and irresponsibility not to put in place rainwater harvesting systems in Government buildings. It is not a logistic challenge to do so, nor does such a move cost much. The AAP Government in Delhi boasts of several smart schemes and innovative measures to ameliorate the problems of Delhiites and improve their quality of life.
It is surprising how it could so conveniently forget and relegate the most important task of conserving water, given the grim situation Delhi is in. But it also must be remembered that water harvesting is just one of the various ways to save water for lean days.


There are multiple ways of water management, conservation and recycling most of which are not applied, implemented or followed in the country, leading to wastage of gallons of water every day. Each sector which has water at its disposal is responsible for it— industries, Government bodies, policymakers, commoners and leaders alike.


No one has an accountability towards the nation. In a water-starved country, there is no end to how much water is misused through unattended public taps, in washing cars and watering plants in bungalows of the rich. The country as a whole has poor canal network and water storing facilities, which is why every summer the fields are parched for want of water— this in a country where water harvesting, storage and conservation measures have been traditionally in place for centuries and were copied by other civilisations.


Many of our cities have old and rusted pipelines that are frequently prone to leaks and bursts. It must be remembered that all civilisations have survived and thrived where water has been around. In lack of water, the greatest of kingdoms have perished and the grandest of capitals have been razed to dust. Water is the prime source and reason for the genesis of life without which even the planet earth would not have been in the habitable form it is today.


There is very little time for us to act. Pollution has already contaminated most of our water bodies beyond redemption. Hardly one per cent of fresh potable water is assessable to humanity in any case. If we destroy even that, there is no way humanity can be saved. Judicious use of water is a tough call in a country like India riddled with ignorance, insensitivity and poverty as it is. It is a Herculean task that will take aeons to explain to people the urgent need to save water and ways to do it.


People are reluctant to adopt newer ways and tend to go back to their old habits once the spur goes missing. However, that doesn’t absolve Governments of their guilt. The effort has to be pursued diligently and the governing bodies need to take the early initiative to set the trend in society that others will emulate. If the Government itself is slack and non-committal, the wrong message percolates down and disenchants people.


The NGT should come down heavily on any administration which does not abide by its injunctions in time because time is a crucial factor here which is slipping away from our hands in years of indecision and dillydallying.
By the way, it should also instruct all State Governments to take steps to harvest and conserve rainwater mandatorily and urgently in all their facilities and buildings, the violation of which should invite strong penalties. There are lakhs of Government buildings across the country and even if half of them could get into the right practice, it could provide water to millions every year.