As per a new study published in the prestigious journal PLOS ONE, Asia will face a “high risk of severe water stress” by 2050 if the population and economy continue to grow and environment continues to degrade and deteriorate at the present rate. India being the second most populous country across the world and Asia has a serious challenge to look ahead.
It is not that the crisis is yet to come, rather it has already started. The current drought conditions across the country are being described as the worst water crisis in a decade. As per Central Water Commission, water levels at 91 major reservoirs across the country are at their lowest level in an entire decade with maximum being 29%. Not only this, but the water levels at Indian reservoirs are at 71% of the last year and 74% of the average level for the last decade. According to Indian Meteorological Department forecasts, the El-Nino weather condition continues to impact India and will wade off by 3rd quarter of calendar year. IMD has predicted an above average monsoon. However, given the prevalent El-Nino weather conditions it will be interesting to see how monsoon unfolds itself in coming months.
One of the worst drought hit area has been eastern Maharashtra. Since the region lies on the eastern side of Western Ghats, it is destined to get less rainfall because the monsoon winds coming from Arabian Sea strike at the western face of western ghats and deliver rainfall there only. Geographically, the Marathwada and Vidarbha region ( Eastern Maharashtra) is to receive low rainfall even during good monsoon. Such is the crisis in eastern Maharashtra, that Bombay High Court has asked IPL organisers to shift some matches out of state. (To share your opinion on Bombay High Court’s order, download ‘Swipe App’ available on Android https://goo.gl/S3jEFf) This should not come as a surprise because IPL matches would involve usage of around 40 Lac Litres of water for the purpose of water pitches for just 7 cricket matches to be held in Maharashtra. The court further went to say that such an expenditure of water at present time is cruel.
However, does that mean there can be no solution to lessen the pain and suffering of drought struck people? The first and foremost thing which all of us can do is to make judicious and sensible use of water at our own end. If all of us save only one drop a day that would amount to saving billion drops. This can include small small changes in habits like closing the tap when not using it, playing dry Holi, not over irrigating our plants at home, avoiding over flushing of toilets, avoiding cooking food in open vessels, not washing our vehicles during lean periods etc. Surprisingly reducing our consumption of meat and poultry will also help reduction in water wastage. As per a study conducted by Institution of Mechanical Engineers U.K, which was published in the prestigious newspaper The Guardian, to produce 1kg of meat requires between 5,000 and 20,000 litres of water whereas to produce 1kg of wheat requires between 500 and 4,000 litres of water (Source:http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2013/jan/10/how-much-water-food-production-waste#data) . These small changes in habits will only occur when there is a change in our attitude but nevertheless they will yield big end results.
Secondly, a water policy should be adopted by each and every organisation. Every organisation should monitor water usage for consumption by its employees during working hours and also by manufacturing industries in its processes. They should fix a target and try to achieve it within a stipulated time period. Later, a legal scheme can be adopted throughout India just like the trading of carbon credits.This can be explained as follows. Every organisation shall be allocated water credits, where 1 water credit will be equal to 1 unit of water. The targets for every organisation will be fixed in terms of water credits. If any organisation achieves its target and saves some water credits, it can sell these units at stock market. If any other organisation cannot achieve its target, i.e. its consumption is much more than its target, it will have to purchase water credits on stock market to make this excess consumption. This will infuse a sense of responsibility among all organisation especially industrial units and will force them to innovate new techniques which reduce water consumption.
Thirdly, we need to slowly adopt and install water recycling units at our home. Wastewater can be easily used for consumption after due treatment through scientific processes. This will require a major attitudinal shift among public for which youth of the country need to take a stand and persuade people through scientific reasoning that wastewater once treated in completely harmless for consumption.
Planting trees is one of the best proactive steps which we can take to check water shortage in future. Trees help in checking water run off and allow rainwater to settle down and seep into the ground thus elevating ground water level. Added to this, the dense canopy and foliage of trees reduces the amount of sunlight reaching ground, thus reducing evaporation of groundwater.
There is a famous saying, “Sustainable development is the one which meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs”. Let’s not be too much selfish about our own needs. Let’s rationalise our needs. Let’s not be mute spectators to such a looming crisis. Let’s understand the graveness of this situation, how bad it is and how worse it can get. Let’s think about it, talk about it, share about it. Let’s innovate ideas and invent solutions and SWIPE the water crisis out of our lives.