Water isn't cheap, it's simply precious

Recently, my online friends were circulating the inspiring story of Aabid Surti, an author by profession, who is silently contributing his share for the protection of this beautiful planet. He goes along with a plumber to houses and sets right leaking taps, because millions of litres of water goes waste just due to leaky taps!  Every drop of water matters.

Like this there are many amongst us, who have realised the value of nature’s greatest gifts and positively work towards preserving them for us like — Salumarada Thimmakka, who went on to plant nearly 400-500 Banyan trees along a highway and nurtured them by watering the saplings fetching water from miles away; Sunderlal Bahuguna, a prominent leader of Chipko movement and thousands of faceless Chipko activists who fought tooth and nail and risked their lives to save the wonderful trees of the Himalayan region;  Rajendra Singh known as the ‘Waterman of India’, who has been instrumental in the execution of thousands of watershed programmes in the desert state of Rajasthan and reviving 5 dead rivers.

The list goes on. But all this is really like drops in the ocean, because destruction of nature’s gifts is happening on a mass scale all over the world. Declaring March 22 as the World Water Day is fine. But how many of us really understand the seriousness of the issue? Being a Bangalorean, I can give examples of how we have become so insensitive to the issue. If this is the scene in just one city, imagine the damage being done worldwide.

Wasting water

Just take a stroll around Bangalore early in the morning and you will find hundreds of people washing their plush cars with fresh running water. You will definitely find at least a few hundreds of BWSSB water pipes leaking and litres of water gushing out for days together. People who live in huge bungalows built on vast sites concrete the entire site with no exposed soil and millions of litres of rain water goes into the drain. Even after so much of talk about rainwater harvesting, a very small percentage of people have implemented the system in their buildings/homes. 

Bangalore, which was once called the Garden City (I say once because it no longer deserves the name) is being converted into a concrete jungle. Hundreds of lakes have been intentionally killed by dumping debris and huge concrete complexes built on the land.  Right now, mounds of debris are being dumped around Nagavara Lake, burying smaller lakes. Thousands of borewells are being dug all around the city, unchecked. Ground water level is going deeper by the day and thousands of wells are drying up. The BBMP is keen only on minting money by selling away every inch of land to greedy builders. Felling trees has become so easy with modern equipment. So, destruction is happening faster.

Every inch of land is gold!  People are too enamoured by the glamour and grandeur of malls, golf courses, star hotels and posh apartments. Never mind whatever the temperature is outside, after all they travel in AC vehicles and spend their time in AC offices/malls/theatres/homes!  Never mind if the lovely tree-lined avenues are turned into barren 8-lane expressways – after all they don’t wait for crowded buses in the scorching sun;  never mind if thousands of people stand in endless queues for hours to fill just one pot of drinking water in the hot sun and fight for getting even that – after all they have money to buy mineral water and water supplied by tankers!

Never mind if thousands of huge trees which conserved millions of litres of water, recharged the ground water resource, absorbed the dust and noise of the endless heavy traffic on the roads, caused good rainfall, gave shelter to thousands of species of birds, insects, animals and reptiles, soothed our eyes with their colourful blooms, fed us with tasty fruits, cooled our weather in summers (the summer temperature of Bangalore has been continuously rising over the last twenty years and winters are getting shorter) and gave us the fame of ‘Garden City’ – after all they are happy with their aristocratic golf fields and manicured ornamental gardens, which do none of these but use up thousands of litres of water!

Unless there is political will, nothing can happen on a mass scale.  It was because of the political will of Lee Kuan Yew that Singapore is what it is today. Unless the governing politicians realise the value of nature’s gifts and make policies to protect and nurture them, it is very difficult for NGOs and activists to make any big difference. Unless each one of us realises the importance of the issue and contributes one’s bit, change cannot happen.  If I feel foliage is ‘dirt’ and hence I will cement all the soil and use fresh water without limit irresponsibly, the day is not far off when this entire planet is turned into a hot desert.

Oh, World Water Day!

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