Water Extraction

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 12 Aug 2018 10:16:15


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotels, malls, big schools, colleges and institutes must have proper water harvesting paraphernalia. It doesn’t cost much to conserve water; it is just lack of awareness and willingness that spoils prospects.


Water harvesting, water conservation, storage, water recycling, equitable distribution, stopping of wastage etc are still not a part of our system despite the scenario going from bad to worse. Even government organizations and public buildings have mostly no water conservation or harvesting mechanism in place, which ideally should have been mandated by now.


ILLEGAL withdrawal of groundwater by hotels cannot be permitted if the environment has to be protected and scarce resources saved for future generations. Voicing concern over illegal water extraction, a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said authorities must ensure that as per the May 18, 2010 notification issued by the Lt Governor (Delhi) “no person, group, authority, association, institution” should withdraw groundwater through borewell or tube-well without permission of Central Ground Water Authority.


“The illegal drawing of groundwater by hotels for their commercial interest is not something which can be permitted if the environment has to be protected and scarce resources are to be saved on the principle of intergenerational equity,” the bench, also comprising Justices Jawad Rahim and RS Rathore, said. The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by city resident Shailesh Singh seeking directions to immediately stop withdrawal of groundwater by five-star hotels without permission.


The tribunal had earlier issued notices to three five-star hotels, Central Ground Water Authority, Delhi Jal Board, New Delhi Municipal Council, Central Pollution Control Board. Singh had alleged that various five-star hotels including Hotel Taj Palace, The Leela Palace, Hotel Jaypee Vasant Continental were using several lakh litres of groundwater and the sources of water are not visible in their premises.


The plea had alleged that according to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, one of the hotels was extracting 2, 22,600 litres of water from supply and was having two bore-wells to extract groundwater. Earlier, the tribunal had imposed a fine of Rs 7.5 lakh on one of the hotels after it found unsatisfactory rainwater harvesting systems on their premises. Though this particular case relates to Delhi, the water crisis is a pan-India problem and it’s a scarce resource in any case. Globally water conservation and harvesting measures are being promoted and adopted to save the asset.


In India, we are facing grave water shortage for our farms and fields. The dams and canals dry up much before the summers and scanty rains are unable to fill them. For the most part of the year, we have to depend on these reservoirs as we don’t have proper water storage and recycling facilities.


Had we got a strong canal network, our farms would not have to depend excessively on monsoons and stressed groundwater. Unfortunately, even seven decades after Independence and several seminal advancements in science and technology, we don’t have a robust water infrastructure in place.


Water harvesting, water conservation, storage, water recycling, equitable distribution, stopping of wastage etc are still not a part of our system despite the scenario going from bad to worse. Even Government organisations and public buildings have mostly no water conservation or harvesting mechanism in place, which ideally should have been mandated by now.


Hotels, malls, big schools, colleges and institutes must have proper water harvesting paraphernalia. It doesn’t cost much to conserve water; it is just lack of awareness and willingness that spoils prospects. In India, most things happen only after there is a legal order or a Government rule. Very few would voluntarily do something as long as it entails a cost. No one thinks of social good or saving the environment as long as something doesn’t directly affect them. It is only when a crisis hits one in the face that action is taken. Hotels, industries and big establishment are particularly reckless and negligent when it comes to saving resources or using them judiciously.


They have the money and the heft to bend rules and bypass laws for their benefit, while they are the greatest exploiters of resources and polluters too. The Government must strongly monitor their activities and levy penalties for
the wrongdoings.


The hotel and business houses are run by leading industrial conglomerates or politicians, which is why stringent action is avoided against them. Moreover, the neglect, wastage or misuse of resources by them is not very openly visible, which also contributes to delayed action or leniency. However, that cannot be admitted as an excuse.


More stringent rules on use of water, electricity etc must be put in place if we want to balance our needs. India has a continually growing population and a growing economy needs immense water for infrastructure and industrial development. No civilization can survive without water. Our riverbeds are already starved and stressed due to continued population pressure. Where would we get water from a decade or two from now if we don’t save it urgently?
If people and cattle go thirsty, water wars are going to be violent and frequent. States are already fighting wars to corner their share of water. In such a precarious situation, judicious use of water is a dire necessity which we can no longer ignore. Gallons of water go waste every day in the country and groundwater is rampantly used beyond its means.


We are scouring the last remnants. Large swathes of land are already dead under perennial drought, rendering lakhs of people jobless and starved. With more and more land turning fallow, a farm crisis is also impending sooner than later. As has been said, the base of every civilisation is water. No human settlement or race in history has survived for long without water.


Once the water ends, we all end. Kingdoms have perished, whole humanities have been wiped out where water has dried up. We are galloping towards such a situation. Water management in the country needs an immediate rejig, even as it is one of the most neglected aspects of administration.
Since most people in the better facilitated urban ensconces haven’t seen much of water deprivation yet, they cannot gauge the seriousness of the situation. It is in the hinterlands where the real doom is visible and so is in the poorer parts of the cities. The same crisis is going to hit each one of us soon because each one of us is responsible in some way or the other.


Water will be sold at such a high premium that most people won’t be able to afford it. The only way out is to take aggressive measures to save water, store water and recycle water for reuse and mandate all buildings of a particular range of plinth area to adopt water conservation/ harvesting technologies, even if that means Government subsidies to promote the practice.


By the way, if we don’t act smart, even now, no one can save us. No country will perhaps be as badly hit as India and millions of her poor will simply perish. The economy will irrevocably flounder.