Hello Friends, Today I will tell about scarcity of water, we have grossly misused this commodity.
1. Rapid, unplanned and excessive urbanization.
2. Low storage capacity of our rivers, ponds, canals and lakes.
3. Silting of all water bodies.
4. Denudation of forests depletes their retention capacity to absorb rainwater, causing drying up of springs.
5. Cities' untreated filth, sewage and industrial wastes are discharged into rivers, ponds and canals, which gradually deplete their storage capacity and dry one day, besides generating filth. It also causes contamination and destruction of flora and fauna.
6. Sinking of too many bore-wells and hand pumps in our rural and urban areas indicate waste of rainwater and causing depletion of groundwater. With the alarming rate of sinking of the groundwater table there is a threat that even this source may dry up one day. The government is now proposing to levy a heavy cess on consumers to discourage use of groundwater. They may even propose a ban on boring new private tube-wells. In some states they have already done so.
The sinking of the groundwater table is causing contamination of groundwater, leading to the sickening of large sections of the populace and the contamination of crops. Rising cases of cancer, skin diseases and abdominal disorders are noticed in the States of West Bengal, Assam and most of the north-eastern belt, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and eastern-UP. It is a frightening phenomenon and may become more dreadful with time. Most of these areas are contaminated with arsenic, heavy metals, fluorides, salinity, and nitrates. Earlier arsenic was considered to be present only in West Bengal and Bangladesh, but the excessive extraction of groundwater due to poor water management and consequent depletion of groundwater table has caused suction of groundwater
from nearby sources. This is how the contaminated water from Bangladesh and West Bengal has travelled through other states and has contaminated larger parts of the country. The menace of depleting groundwater table has already dried up millions of bore-wells and millions are on the verge of drying. Toxic groundwater is a national health crisis.
Ours is a tropical country. We have definite seasons of rains, mostly in summer and partly in winter, unlike the West where it usually rains round the year. There the rains are generally not excessive and the soil gets enough time to absorb and allow it to seep through the subsoil. But our situation is different. It often rains excessively for a short duration. The subsoil neither gets enough time to absorb it nor is the storage capacity of our rivers, ponds, canals, lakes or drainage systems adequate to retain it during this short period. It may therefore inundate the local areas and cause flash floods as we witnessed in 2005 in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. The torrential rains flooding cities, destroying belongings and uprooting families for months, was a catastrophe rarely witnessed before. It took the whole country by surprise. It was feared that such instances may rise in future due to depleting storage capacity, grossly inadequate and usually choked drainage system, over population, haphazard urbanisation and unmindful deforestation, etc. And so it happened. The situation worsened in 2006, flooding even Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai,Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Surat, and Bhopal to name a few cities, despite the state governments' best efforts. The latest in the series is unprecedented floods in Chennai during Dec., 2015 killing about 300 people. Not villages, cities make the headlines now! Flash floods have become a regular feature of our country and we are incapable to solve this menace. This calamity is under human control but no
concerted human efforts are made to control the reasons that cause it. They render our peasants, labourers, and workers homeless. The scars left after every drought or flood are more harrowing. People are forced to live in sub-human conditions or commit suicide. The recurring phenomenon of such calamities has started showing up in the form of famines and epidemics inflicting further suffering on our rural populace and rise in farmers' suicides. It is unfortunate that even renewable resources are shrinking because of our ignorance, callous attitude, and their indiscriminate over-utilization or misuse, as noted above. Water scarcity could have been prevented if water was properly managed and conscientiously utilized only if we had enough reservoirs to conserve rainwater. The discharge of sewage into our holy rivers and other reservoirs in the 21st century is a matter of shame. Most of our ponds and lakes have dried up and canals have little water as a consequence of this. There has not been much effort to add more canal routes. Our country has seen tens of thousands of crores of rupees going waste in the name of Ganga cleaning, Yamuna cleaning or other cleansing operations but the rivers have remained as polluted as ever.
Rather, the conditions are worsening. Even Justice Katju of Supreme Court while adjudicating a petition confessed "take for example the Yamuna river issue. For the last 25 years the apex court has been giving directions for cleaning the river, but it resembles and stinks like drain." This statement is enough to express the truth of our system's incapability and the Judiciary's helplessness to redress the same. Justice Katju may be shocked that the situation has worsened since then. The figure has galloped to Rs 4,439 crore and yet the filth of the Yamuna remains much the same.
Such episodes are matters of concern on the effectiveness of our learned judiciary?
Friends for today up to here. Next I will talk on how to save water and overcome the perennial shortage of water, till then thank you and Good Bye. K C Agrawal