Mehak Gupta Grover
The best gift we can give to coming generation is water. Nearly 76 million people in India do not have access to safe drinking water, as polluted rivers and poor storage infrastructures over the years have created a water deficit which may become unmanageable in the future. With a diverse population, India is the second largest populated country in the world. India has taken significant steps to reduce poverty but the number of people who live in poverty is still highly disproportionate. Although India has made improvements over the past decades to both the availability and quality of drinking water, it’s large population has stressed planned water resources and rural areas are left out.
Water scarcity involves water stress, water shortage and water crisis. This may be due to both natural and human factors. But, it is more due to the human factors than anything- like industrialisation, irrigation, domestic use, etc. Twenty-two out of thirty-two major Indian states deals with daily water shortage.We are who we are because of our rivers. India has essentially grown along the banks of major rivers. Our ancient civilisations – Mohenjodaro and Harappa were born along the waters and they died when the rivers shifted course.
Rampant pollution, dumping of sewage waste and abuse of the rivers has led to large sections of important rivers unfit for drinking. Ganga and Yamuna flows through eleven states of India and provides water to more than five hundred million people. River Godavari being the second longest river and flows through seven states. River Indus- being longest in Asia covers the north India. Narmada river being one of the most sacred rivers of Hindus covers Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Mahanadi river is one of the most important rivers in east central India. River Kaveri is the lifeline of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. These rivers provide potable water, cheap transportation, electricity and the livlihood for a large number of people all over the country.
India is facing a perfect storm in managing water. It is now facing a water situation that is significantly worse than any previous generations have had to face. Water supply in India has two major sources- water from rivers and ground water. However, rivers are shrinking because of pollution and industrialisation and the growing population is further pushing us towards an enormous water deficit.
India needs a long gestation policy on river’s revitalization to ensure a comprehensive approach towards solving the issue of river depletion. The root cause of the problem is that from 1947 till now, our population has quadrupled; from nearly 345 million to 1.34 billion. Also, due to global warming, rainfall have become erratic, unpredictable and highly insufficient, severely affecting the process of farming.Government is taking measures for making our rivers clean but are these measures being taken seriously? We are living like we are the last generation on the planet. The situation is far more serious than it appears to be. Narendra Modi’s government has made cleaning the Ganges, the major river that is holy to Hindus, a key policy goal. Ministers have even said they consider clean air to be a ‘ Birth Right’. The high court of northern state of Uttrakhand established two of India’s sacred rivers- the Ganga and Yamuna, as living entities. The new order makes polluting or damaging the rivers legally comparable to hurting a person. Taking measures is not the only solution until everybody takes a pledge to make our water safe.
Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev, the founder of Isha foundation, started ” Rally for Rivers” a nationwide campaign to revitalise the country’s fast depleting water bodies. He is trying to awaken India about the alarming situation of the rapidly receding rivers. With the impact of this rally, government of Madhya Pradesh has already started a mass movement that is aimed at building awareness and planting trees on the shore of Narmada river. Government of Maharashtra has also signed a memorandum to rejuvenate the Godavari river by facilitating the plantation of fifty crore trees.
Cleaning the rivers is not a one man’s show. Each one of us needs to do our part. Water crisis is a health crisis. Access to safe water and sanitation can quickly turn problems into potential- unlocking education, work opportunities and improved health inturn creating ability to fight diseases. We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.
Today, one in nine people lack access to safe water, one in three people lack access to toilet. More people have mobile phones than a toilet. We can change our world. We can work together to make the power of water available to all. If there is magic on this planet; it is contained in water- Loran Eisely.