Jammu on the brink of water crises

B L Saraf
There is no denying that being part of the globe we cannot escape the effects of a Climate Change, which has well and truly set in. Paris Agreement signed by 175 countries on 22 April, to which India has affixed its signature, may take care of that. It is time to talk of the situation arising , as a consequence, nationally and locally. According to the official reports, 257 districts across the country face grave drought situation. It is very bad in Mararthwada region of Maharashtra and some parts of Karnataka. Just for a bucket of water, in those areas, the young and old have to walk miles in the scorching heat. Far and wide, vast tracts of barren and parched lands are in sight which, in not so distant past, would give a green and fertile look. There is no sign of water, ground water has evaporated so much that even after boring hundreds of feet down not a drop of water is available for pumping out. Live stock has perished, as have the young, old and the feeble succumbed to nature’s fury. Thanks to the intervention of judiciary, some remedial action in this regard is afoot.
Nearer home, things, too, do not portend well. Callous misuse of water, unplanned and unregulated hand pumps have aggravated the crises. We don’t know whether Ground Water Rules are in place in the state, and, if so, are they being followed? We have mushrooming of unregulated private heavy duty water pumps on roadsides, from where water, in millions of liters, is pumped out daily and used for commercial purposes. Water mafia is at work. Even PHE and JDA tanks are seen lined up to carry water from these, allegedly, unregulated pump stations. The pace at which these private water stations pump out water is a matter of time when we will see depletion of shallow aquifers and a falling water table.
Marathwada may be a quite a distant place from Jammu and, presently, looks to us a god forsaken piece of land situated elsewhere. Given the way we in Jammu and other parts of the state are treating ( mistreating) our scarce water sources a day will not be far off when that god forsaken place will be just next door, inflicting on us the miseries of drought and related after effects. Our, still, green lands are in imminent danger of acquiring the dreary parched outlook. There are reports that some parts of District Samba and Kathua are reeling under the water shortage crises. People struggle to get water from fast depleting water sources. In Kandi areas the wells and seasonal rivulets have dried up. Same story is unfolding in other parts of the province. If these reports are to be believed, the PHE Officials have given up and told people, there, to fend for themselves .
What adds to the water woes of the people in city is the leaking pipes,erratic water supply and a callous attitude of the consumers. It is a common sight, throughout the city, that no sooner does water start to run in the taps, the tullo pumps come to the life in almost every household and draw out all the water from the mains, as not to leave a drop for the hinter area user . Apart from denying water to the law abiding citizen, these irresponsible water suckers put their own and that of their family’s health at a grave physical threat. It is common practice that PHE lines run parallel and very close to the sewer drains. Both leak at regular spaces, mixing each others contents. So, when water from a P HE main line is drawn fast with the help of a pump it sucks in the contents of the sewer, also, to that house hold. As such, unknowingly, residents of house consume contaminated water, at their peril.
If the concerned officers of the PHE would care to have a casual look around the area, it will quite occur to them how the unscrupulous have, in unauthorized manner, installed water points on the mains. And use them as car wash stations, besides for sprinkling water on the roads in front of their establishments.
Water crises is getting severe day by day. No part of the country, as indeed the globe, will be spared. No wonder the knowledgeable and conscientious people, around the world, fear that 3rd world war, whose chances are increasing with the passage of every year, would be recorded in the history books as the ” Water War ” . Some statutory action is urgently needed to save the situation from going bad to worse. Stringent laws for the water security and conservation are required.
Stay warned! As if traffic chaos is not enough, soon water crises will trigger a civil war on the streets of Jammu and other parts of the state. It is, therefore, time to realize that we are in wait of a disaster ready to overtake us . There is no sign of hope. We ‘the people ‘are as immune to the self correction as the state executive is. In a laid back world, we happily follow the Jailor’s refrain in Sholey movie “hum Angrazoo kay Zamanae kay jailor hein ; naa tab sudrey naa ab sudregein .” Our hopes are now pinned only to the Honorable High Court. May some public spirited person take the call and relieve poor from the distress and avert an impending disaster.
(The author is Former Principal District & Sessions Judge)