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Respect water

About the blog

Dr. Sarvesh Kumar Shahi
Assistant Professor, KIIT School of Law, Bhubaneswar.

Themes

  • Respect water

The whole world, inclusive of India, is facing a water crisis. Every now and then, there is news flashing on the internet that due to water scarcity and water pollution, many people have lost their lives. Not only these, but, in several states, protests regarding water shortages have been rising.

We have been taught since our childhood that “water is life” but have we respected water enough as life? Recently, the news has been flooding about the water crisis in Bengaluru. Who do you think is responsible and answerable for this crisis? Do we have to be dependent on the laws and regulations every now and again for proper water management and distribution of this resource or is it high time for ‘We the People of India’ to act and be aware to fight against this scarcity and be well versed with the management of this resource.

People need to be educated about the significance of water. They need to learn different techniques of water management and need to be sensitized about the various water-related issues that exist in our country.

Taking into consideration the current situation of the Gaya district of the state of Bihar, it has been brought into the news that the groundwater level has gone down dangerously, which has created a panic situation for domestic households. The government has assured the supply of treated wastewater to the water users, but the citizens may object to the use of treated water due to certain religious issues. An objection may be raised to its use, highlighting the negative impact of it on the health and hygiene of citizens. However, several scientific research studies have shown that it is perfectly fine to use treated water. Today, the whole battle is of sewage water versus drinking water. But, in the future, when there will be no water left to consume, then the only way would be to use wastewater by converting it to potable water. My personal view is that the water treatment plants that would be set up for the supply of treated water need to be maintained and taken care of by the government. If not maintained and looked upon, the heavy metals contained in wastewater might have a negative impact on the health of the consumers.

The second biggest issue faced by India is the severe decrease in the number of wetlands. We need to rejuvenate them. But the ones that have gone dry, can we revive them with treated wastewater? We need a scientific opinion on this. In such a case, there would be another controversy on artificial lakes versus natural lakes. Another question that arises is, are artificial lakes as effective as natural lakes? Can water-treated wastewater from artificial lakes be used for irrigation and farming purposes? The only answer to these relevant questions is “wait and watch”. The functioning can be properly judged on its implementation by the state-level water management authorities, like the water management board/water supply board, and water sewage board to ensure a better and timely supply of treated water to schools, households and irrigation fields.

Looking at the worst situation of water shortage in the approaching summer, several other questions are coming to my mind, such as, are we ready to face extreme weather conditions in the future? Has the government conducted any survey which evaluates the current water capacity that our remaining wetlands have? Will it be able to sustain our needs for the future? In my opinion, the government needs to look at such data to act upon this issue in a positive way.

From now onwards, we need to focus on small steps to properly manage the water resources. A mandatory regulatory mechanism has to be set up for institutions' wastewater due to overflow of tanks. They should be directed to fix water overflow alarms to reduce the risk of wastage of water. Restaurants and hotels can use the concept of “serving food on leaves”, which suggests the use of banyan leaves while eating. The use of eco-friendly disposable cutlery is suggested to avoid water wastage while washing permanent utensils. The issue of water leakage from taps and pipes should be looked upon in public places, institutions and houses. Building infrastructure laws need to be reformed to mandate rainwater harvesting systems and prevent leaked pipe water wastage.

 We focus on tech cities, but in the long run, we have witnessed that these tech cities have been converted into tanker cities due to water crisis in households, which has further given birth to water tanker mafias charging high rates for water supply, in the absence of any concrete administrative guidelines.

Thus, water must be understood within the context of the urban ecosystem. It is high time for the government to create a “water vulnerability index” which may highlight the district and village-based water scarcity survey to help the administrative officials act upon the possible threat of water shortage every year and take suitable measures to deal with it. More research studies should be promoted by the government in higher educational institutes focussing on the adaptation of the best conservation techniques by water-scarce countries. Political leaders may play a key role in reaching out to people of their constituency, educating the best possible techniques of water management for the use of farming and households. Overall, the focus should be on RRR i.e. Recycle, Reuse and Respect water.

*All the views are personal - Dr. Sarvesh Kumar Shahi, Assistant Professor, KIIT School of Law, Bhubaneswar

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