The Elixir Of Life!
The start, which tends to wake the civilised people, like us, up with a start, is at Hollywood in all probability! Mad Max 3, the movie starring Mel Gibson, did manage to enthrall the audience across the globe, where the protagonist was seen fighting a lone battle (well, almost) against the evil in the then makeshift world, with regard to a then scarce commodity, an inflammable liquid or Petrol! It will not be too incorrect to state that the situation has slightly translated itself in real life… when the Global Community started to watch, in awe, about a modern city slowly getting deprived of another liquid – Water!
People across the globe have often been confronting one issue of concern that has plagued the thoughts of the intelligentsia, the erudite, as well as the commonners – the one on a ‘Sustainable Development‘!
In the Indian context, it can readily be observed that villages belonging to the Central, West and the Southern parts of the country are often getting featured in the News Headlines – the incidents reported varying from Unrest to Suicides of the Farmers! Studying these albeit in a skimming way apparently, it can – without much difficulty – be deciphered that the root cause of all these is a cursory WoW, too: ‘Want of Water‘, only Water! Yes, the cheapest elixir for sustenance of Life!
Apart from the scarcity of potable water everywhere, there is hardly any water required for harvesting… the groundwater reserve is continually getting depleted, the rivers are running dry… and consequently, problems are arising out of the dearth of Water much required for irrigation of the soil!
Experts have been heard commenting that this seeming temporary scarcity is out to achieve a permanent status in near future… and not only that sweet water is getting to be so expensive that within half a century, the World would be witnessing warfare between (belligerent) nations on issues relating to Water!
Within 50 years, sweet water may be replaced by freshwater… Efforts are on, worldwide, aiming to conserve Water Resources: Planning, with implementation processes of those plans are at galore… Plans have been undertaken in India and in eastern Indian province of West Bengal in a likewise fashion! From 2012, West Bengal is experiencing the plan – termed ‘Jol Dhoro… Jol Bhoro‘ or ‘Conserve Water & Fill your Container up‘, rhyming in basic Bengali language, with the aim to build new canals, tanks, ponds and other forms of reservoirs, while replenishing the existing ones; apart from that increasing the level of groundwater by channelisation of excess water due to rainfalls and other sources, as well! A State Water Investigation Directorate has been set up to look after conservation of ground water in the entire province!
India facing the worst water crisis in its history
Questions arise, naturally, as to the level of benefits arising out of these plans… the question pertaining to result orientation arises, because the difference between the continuous increase in demand for fresh water versus the supply of the same is being flagrant day by day! An attempt to investigate the cause behind it gives rise to several issues, with one of them being totally oblivious of the necessary conditions pertaining to consciousness as a citizen. The second is wastage of this dear resource owing to malfunction of taps governed by the government… The rest are to take rest for some time!
Now, focussing on one’s vision to the situation prevailing in Kolkata, one would observe that the principal source of supply of this Elixir of Life of a vast area in North and South Kolkata (inclusive of the adjoining areas) is groundwater reserve, i.e., the water-level present under the ground… a continual growth in Urbanisation has increased the demand for water manifold, and the supply, as usual, is limited. According to a study conducted by the Central Public Health & Engineering Orgsnisation, the usage of water in Kolkata is maximum 600 litres per person; whereas it is 84 litres in Chennai, 100 litres in Bengaluru and 170 litres in New Delhi. As a result, the groundwater reserve is getting depleted astronomically. A report by the Kolkata Municipal Corporation has stated that groundwater level has come down to 7m from 11m!
In this connection, one might state that the usage of wells and deep tube wells has substantially decreased nowadays… But, has it been brought to one’s notice the pace in which the Bottled Water Industry is growing in India and the amount of investment by the multinational corporations in this industry?
Well, there is Foreign Investment in this area… it IS true… but has it been brought to light that these heavyweight organisations, with roots in the Capitalist world, are indulging thus into this burglary of water from the ground source of the South Asian country? And that too at throwaway prices or even for free? Well, these Big Organisations, however, did not get permission for this act from their Native World, and hence, most of their Production Units are in India! The main problem of the farmers is not drought, but the transfer of local water resources to the cities, packaged! Varanasi, Jaipur, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh are constantly witnessing Peasant Unrest or Movements by Farmers… it would seem like a banter, but the Government of Maharashtra had put up a price of 25 paisa only for one litre of water after issuing a writ to those Multinational Corporations that collection of ground water for free shall NOT be permitted!
It is being observed every year that where the Manufacturing Industries, ranging from Cell phone to Software, Automobiles to Electronics, have failed to accomplish their usual growth-pattern, the Bottled Water Industry is increasing day by day and bounds! The number of companies that are officially licensed to produce Bottled Mineral Water is currently 5,735 in India… and without license, it is around 3,500 in Delhi-Noida-Gurgaon (the National Capital Region) only! The question arises as to how could these companies get so much water, whereas quite a severe water-crisis is being witnessed almost everywhere?
On the other hand, it is now seen that farmers from different parts of the country have taken to the streets, walking relentlessly, without stopping even for food, from Nasik to Mumbai, even in New Delhi and the adjoining National Capital Region.
Nowadays, people hardly care even to take glances at the company-labels of the bottles of water that get provided to us at hotels, restaurants or even roadside… Those bottles are bought at INR 20 per unit! A report by the Euro Monitor Organisation said that this sector did a business of INR 130 billion in 2018, almost twice that of the Soft Drinks Industry! It is, hence, the organisations manufacturing Soft Drinks are investing in this particular sector, more! In other words, the rural areas of India are experiencing stealth of groundwater from their areas, which end up being sold to the Indians at a high price! As a result, this industry is witnessing a growth of more than 20% per year!
It may be noted that to manufacture a 1-litre bottle of Water – 33% of the water used, is lost during the time of processing… and it may, thus, be conjectured that National (as well as International) Politics, Corporates and Mafia Groups have entered into the arena of two main industries – Bore well and Water Tanker – after creating this crisis of water India-wide… Almost every single person staying in Tiruchengod and Nallakkal Districts in Tamil Nadu is involved in one business directly or vicariously. It is that of bore well! For digging bore wells, manufacture or repair of rig tracks are done there, resulting in thousands of those getting transported everywhere, from Jammu to Mizoram, from Jharkhand to Andhra Pradesh… and that, now, has enticed a large chunk of the labour force of the country there because it is the only sector where there is work round the year. As a result, their remunerations have decreased substantially… and not only that every town would sport thousands of tankers, depleting the ground water level by taking water out from outside the city, not caring for the administration… These tankers are wholly being controlled by the Mafia Groups… and bulk of this water, thus dug out, is getting supplied to the Construction Industry, rather Real Estates…
In other words, Water from the Rural Areas gets transported to Cities… Bore wells are seen everywhere… Rural India experiences a genuine lack of Water, thus, making Agriculture suffer! With the present lack of work in the Agricultural Sector, those Bottled Water, Soft Drinks, as well as the Housing Construction or Real Estate Sectors, get thronged by the villagers in large numbers, looking for sources of sustenance.
People hardly wonder about the amount of Water required for wetting the fields, toilets and maintenance at the Indian Premier League (IPL) Cricket Matches… The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), by the way, has informed Bombay High Court that ‘to conduct a single IPL match, approximately .35 million litres (or 350,000 litres) of Water get used up, thus!’
Most of the people, by this time, have forgotten Dr Narendra Dabholkar, his movements and the incident involving Asaram Bapu, the Godman… Well, Mother Nature is helplessly watching the open and shameless stealth of the precious resource provided by her in this country – Water. And the result, production of Agricultural Goods and other related services would come to a virtual standstill… scarcity of potable water is already being seen… there would be quite a dearth of requisite Water for irrigation, as well, and with the groundwater level decreasing continuously, the probability of experiencing earthquakes would increase substantially! A few years from now, water crisis would be too flagrant, as the difference between the growing requirement of Water and supply of the same is increasing day by day! The Farmers are not getting the water they much require… the dwellers in slums, along with the Middle Class, are being deprived of it. But, the supply of water seems ever increasing in the REAL Estates, the Bottled Water and related industries… only the affluent would be able to reap the fruits of the water-economy, which is getting constructed in this particular fashion, as water would be getting expensive in the days to come!
The Mind gets gripped with a Fear Unknown, by the Thought of those fateful days itself… This is, therefore, a form of a Clarion Call to Friends – Come! Let Us be a bit Careful about Water! Let us memorise these, an Oath that has to be taken:
– Water should Not be wasted…
– Ground water should not be taken out in an illegal manner…
– Other People should be convinced to Save & Protect the Water Resources…
– There should be endurance of formation of Public Opinion, to appeal to the Government so that necessary steps are taken to prevent theft of the Water Resource of the Country, by Multinational Corporations…
Friends, Let Us Unite, to initiate a positive Movement by ensuring formation of a Public Opinion, to build & Guarantee a Safe Future!
You may like the video: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=2177799512277423&id=100001421878255
Boundless Ocean of Politics has received this article in Bengali from Ms Nibedita Ray, a performer of spoken art forms. The article has been translated by Boundless Ocean of Politics, and checked and further approved by the author.
Nibedita Ray has been raised as a conscientious human being, possessing a keen, as well as critical, sense of observation. A teacher of English Language and Literature by profession, she is actively involved in Activities with Positive Social Utility that lead to an optimised growth of positive Human Values… factors related to weltsmerz and development deeply affect her and move her from within to be an avid reader, a writer/ columnist, as well as a performer of Spoken/Oral/Verbal Art Forms. Nibedita has participated in numerous Educational Programmes hosted by Prasaar Bharati, AIR-Kolkata and other organisations… and has travelled widely, participating in various Seminars & Programmes in India and abroad… She can be contacted through royneev1972@ gmail.com.
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