How to combat increasing water stress?

Are we progressively plunging, from the existing seemingly manageable strains and stress on water front, into an imminent catastrophe , just the idea frightens us but the moot question is as to how many of us, at least, discuss and debate its various ramifications, if not feeling eager to resolve it. Until four decades ago, we were bogged down on account of ‘acute shortage of food’ and widely discussing and debating the issue even down to the school and college text book levels where the issue was academically dealt with at elementary levels and a vast awareness was the prized achievement but the recent horrible water crisis faced by Tamil Nadu has perhaps not travelled beyond the worst affected areas of that State. Water crisis instead , unfortunately , has become an area in India where cheap politics thrived and politicians baked their political loaves . Knocking at the doors of the courts or constituting Water Tribunals or resorting to agitations and similar remedies were no solution to tackle the looming grave danger.
The point will get further clarified by knowing that this country is very unfortunately one of those 17 countries, which being home to the quarter of the world’s population, were facing, what has been termed as “extremely high ” water stress. The perceived conditions are such which could be envisaged as “Day Zero” conditions which in simpler words mean when our taps would run completely dry and no amount of taking protest demonstrations or raising hue and cry would salvage the position. The scenario to be faced is based on a report unveiled by The World Resources Institute’s Aqueduct Water Risk Atlas and is compiled on available robust data, peer reviewed methodology and the best possible available information. Among the 17 countries , we are ranked at 13th despite being a land of rivers and sweet water lakes and water bodies.
If we randomly take into account just two rivers which once, but not long ago, were not only the source of irrigation but even for drinking purposes as well , the Ganga and the Yamuna and then make a comparison with their present condition , it would be safely deduced as to how we ourselves virtually axed our own feet. The blatant but merciless violation of these two rivers has reduced them to the present levels, no wonder the World Report making us hear alarm bells indicating the very immediate scenario on the water front. Do we still learn any lessons and try to save and preserve what nature has very liberally provided for us on the express condition , of course, to use those judiciously and pass on the same to the next generations ? Do we not mock the Government’s efforts to cleanse these two rivers doing again the avoidable despicable cheap politics, instead of treating the same as a National Mission .
Being ranked as one of the “extremely highly” water stressed country while having more than three times the population of the other 16 countries suffering from the same problem , we are facing severe groundwater depletion especially in our Northern part . Though we succeeded in fighting the battle on the food front, we are continuously losing the war on the most important front of conserving water. Could we fight the looming greatest danger to our survival by harvesting rain water , save and use very judiciously surface and ground water and treat wanton wastage of water as a national sin if not a national crime? Can we recycle the used water in our homes and other places ? Can we revert to our classical religo-cultural approach towards rivers, lakes, water bodies etc as worth revering and respecting and term as a grave sin to pollute them? We have to, if we have to stop , not only defer, the horrifying “Day Zero”
Cape Town in South Africa is known the world over especially among the cricket lovers. It had assumed the status of a famous tourist destination of excursions and holidaying but the water crisis faced by this beautiful city started mildly in 2008 and then all of a sudden, ballooned in 2018 when people had to scramble for getting just a bottle of water for quenching thirst , let alone bathing, washing and for “other luxuries”. That scenario could best remind us what was meant by the frightening term “Day Zero” which should set our priorities right, keeping in mind the challenges like global warming, increasing population, changing water habits, increasing demand from agriculture and industry etc which all affect the water management and warranting for a national movement for early and lasting solution to save from becoming another “Cape Town”.