When every drop counts

Looming crisis

When every drop counts

When Ismail Serageldin said that the wars of the 21st century will be fought over water, he had envisaged the calamity that mankind was heading for; a catastrophe of their own making. The enormity of the situation becomes clearer and clearer with every passing summer as the country grapples with an acute water shortage.

This is especially true for Bengaluru where alarm bells are already ringing about the looming water crisis. The summer is just setting in but the BWSSB has already come up with a contingency plan; predicting a bad season ahead — acquiring public borewells and signing up with private water tankers to supply water to worst-affected areas.

Prateek Khurana, a business analyst, says, “Summer is around the corner and water scarcity is a given, along with electricity shortage. There have been many instances where I have received water only once in a day. It is really sad that Bengaluru, despite being a city of lakes, is facing such a problem.” He adds, “The causes of this are in plain sight and the public is as guilty as the authorities because of our silent complicity. For example, huge buildings and malls with fountains in front are a common sight, as are expansive golf courses. No one asks any questions about these water guzzlers.”

Lakshmi Narayan, who works with Standard Chartered Bank, recounts a personal experience. “When we first came to Bengaluru from Jamshedpur, we stayed in Whitefield. The water supply there was very erratic and we had to depend on water cans most of the time. Once, we had no water supply for two days at a stretch and we really struggled.”

“Creating awareness regarding the water crunch and taking immediate action is the need of the hour. While the authorities should check issues like water theft through unauthorised connections and rampant drilling of borewells, citizens can do their bit by shunning showers and opting for bucket baths, making sure the tap is closed properly after use and repairing leaking taps immediately,” she notes.

Asserting that small steps like using a bucket of water instead of a hose pipe to wash a car will go a long way, Prateek adds, “It is not just the authorities who have to do their bit. Bengaluru is fast running out of water and we all have to chip in to counter this existential threat. Bellandur Lake and similar water bodies provide water to a large number of people but it is no better than a garbage dump these days. Look out for cases of dumping in water bodies and report these to the authorities. Join volunteering agencies who are doing their best to revive water bodies.”

The sorry plight of these open stretches of water came under the scanner recently when lakes spewed froth and foam and even started catching fire — a situation not depicted even in doomsday movies. Preventing dumping of untreated sewage and garbage into the lakes and checking the unbridled encroachment and construction along the lakebeds is something that citizens have had on their wishlist for a long time. An integrated water management plan for the city and effective utilisation of treated waste water as well as leveraging the city’s famed technological capabilities are some other suggested courses of action.

With ground water levels dropping to an all-time low due to heavy use and misuse, accentuated by the recent drought in the state, the importance of rainwater harvesting cannot be stressed enough, says Surekha S, a homemaker. “One can save rainwater in a couple of big containers and use it for watering plants. Avoid using the washing machine for few clothes, opt to wash them by hand.”

The younger generation also needs to be made aware of their responsibilities, she adds. “I ensure my children turn off the tap while brushing teeth and don’t take long showers or play with water.”

There have been fears that a water crunch will lead to a forced evacuation of half of the city’s population in the years to come but there is a feeling that most people still haven’t understood the gravity of the situation and are not taking steps to address it. But then, we never know the worth of water till the well is dry.

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