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Water Woes

WATER WOES

Another day, another watery tale of woe. Day after day, the media is filled with dismal stories about the misery resulting from an abject lack of water in parts of our country. The plight of the people worst affected is heinous. With the worst of summer yet to come, the harsh reality of our situation is that, this tale of woe has no end in sight yet.

Due in major parts to our own greed and lack of forethought, the drought that has gripped the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Telengana, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana as well as the water scarcity that is being felt in other parts of India, is more a man-made tale of woe than nature’s perfidy.

Our very own special brand of “it is every man for himself” type of thinking gone haywire that has contributed to our sorry state. So, it is time to think of the greater good. Like the students of this school in Pune – they are collecting the left-over water from their bottles at the school, so that it may be used for watering the school plants or for keeping the wash rooms clean.

“The school has around 1670 students, and if each child has 1/4th of water left in his bottle, it would amount to nearly 1 lakh litres of water been wasted everyday, which is a huge loss. Taking this thought into account, we had a discussion with the students and their suggestions were taken” – Ashwini Kulkarni, school Director

Every drop counts and small changes like this all add up to make a big difference. For once, those with star power are coming to the aid of the common man. Actor Nana Patekar started an amazing trend by adopting whole villages to support and offered his aid; other actors like Akshay Kumar and Aamir Khan are following suit. A slow trickle of support, but if it grows into a deluge, that will be the start of a wonderful situation!

But… let’s not get ahead of ourselves; let’s look at the cause of this abysmal situation and see what brought us here in the first place. According to news reports, the severity of the drought in Maharashtra is one of its own making – the usual ingredients of greedy politicians and unsavoury methods are to be blamed for this. To that, we must add short-sightedness to the list of crimes. According to Huffington Post, apathy for the poor is the number one cause of the grand scale of this misery.

While the frequency of extreme weather events is rising because of climate change, experts say that the prevailing crisis is a combination of governance and policy failures which go back decades, and the apathy of the Indian state to the suffering of the poor.

Rajendra Singh, the famous water conservationist from drought-hit Rajasthan, who won the 2015 Stockholm Water Prize, said that India’s “manmade drought” is the result of the Indian government’s non-seriousness about water security.

As long as short term monetary gain of a few trump the long-term prosperity of many, this sort of crisis will keep revisiting us in different forms, each time worse than the previous. By then, saving a few drops will likely not help in saving our hides.

So, what is the way forward? How are we to rise over this and prevent future such incidents from occurring?

According to N.C.Saxena, former secretary of the Ministry of Rural Development, there is no “carefully considered” policies in place or preventative strategies that can be put in motion in times of crises such as these. From cultivating crops that aren’t water guzzlers to “papering over the deep-rooted problems” with short-term solutions, our government has been guilty of not being proactive and forward-thinking.

 

Instead of pushing dole-oriented schemes, Saxena said that the government needs to engage with people, teach them water harvesting, contour-bunding and agroforestry, and then make them responsible for maintaining these resources.

The time for short-gap solutions to plug in the cracks has long gone. Now is the time for the government to rally round think tanks and NGOs, pool in the collective knowledge and start implementing longterm solutions for the good of the land. Until then, catchy slogans will not be worth the paper they are printed upon.

 

 

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How To Celebrate Holi Without Destroying the Environment

HOLI

Today’s Holi in India, the festival that celebrates Spring and all of its glory. Holi is synonymous with colour and up and down the country and among the diaspora worldwide, there’s this sense of joy and pure fun that only Holi can bring.

But, on the flip side, it is also a festival that is not very environment-friendly. Apart from throwing the colours over each other, there’s also the gallons of water that’s used to mix the colours and spray them all over the revellers. Not to mention the gallons yet that are needed to wash the colours OFF the brightly pink and yellow (and the other colours of the rainbow!) people after the fun’s done.

Not a great thing when there are people desperate for water in many parts of the world, right? I mean, think of the poor mum washing her newborn off in front of her makeshift tent at the refugee centre, using the water from the puddles nearby? Or the child that is

According to the WWF, around 1.1 billion of the world’s populace lack access to clean water and 2.7 billion people run out of it at least once a month.

So, how not to be a killjoy and celebrate the arrival of spring, responsibly? We have some ideas…

  • Holi – and spring – are all about colours. So, bring them in in other ways. Make colourful food – decorate a doughnut with sprinkles, make rainbow cupcakes – and throw a massive street party. Get the whole neighbourhood together and feed the kids and old people who don’t have any and just have a massive picnic together. It is spring for them too!
  • Know what else is full of colours? And nature? Fruits! Make up a whole bunch of fruit juices and lollies and share with your friends. Get the kids of the neighbourhood around and set up a Lolly Stand and distribute it to everyone! Healthy AND fun!
  • Even if you do play Holi, do keep it a dry one. Use organic colours and natural products, like wild turmeric (kasthuri manjal) for yellow etc, products that will wash off easily and will not harm you or the soil.
  • Just so you know we are not anti-fun around these parts, here’s a top tip for those of you that are playing holi, WITH the requisite colours – massage some oil onto your hair and skin first thing. This way, even when you get covered in colours, they won’t seep into your skin and will wash off easily, with a lot less water used in the process.

Happy holi and remember:

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7 Ways To Show Our Planet Some Love, on Love’s Day

7 Ways To Show Our Planet Some Love, on Love's Day

So. Are you the pink heart-shaped balloons and chocolates-type person? Or the one that runs away from those things kind? Whichever camp you fall into, it cannot have escaped your notice that the day ardently looked on by the starry eyed is almost upon us. What was that? What has that got to do with us, you ask?

Well, nothing. Exactly. Just that it is never the wrong time to talk about our depleting natural resources, including water and what better day than the Day of Love, to show some love to our beloved Planet Earth?

How do we do that? Let’s start, as with the best things in life, with some simple stuff and build it up.

1. Turn those taps off. A little drip-drip adds up to many litres of water lost. Make sure you leave no tap dripping in your home, workplace or where ever you may be. If there is a leaky tap in your vicinity, be the Water Ninja and turn those pesky dripping taps off real tight.

2. Keep your taps turned off when you and your family brush your teeth. Better still, fill a glass with water and use just that amount of water to complete your brushing teeth ritual. You would be amazed at how much water this saves you!

3. Be mindful of how much water you expend. When we had to queue up on the streets to get our daily rationed water of 4 buckets per household, we made sure that not one drop was wasted. But what with water flowing out of our taps 24/7 and the ubiquitous water tankers, we have lost sight of what a precarious situation we are in, with respect to the availability of clean, potable water. Say goodbye to endless showers and say hello to mindful usage of water.

4. Again, having a finite quantity of water goes a long way in ensuring none of it gets wastage. Put away the hosepipe and use a bucket-and-mug combo to water your plants.

5. Ditto, car / bike washing. Just fill a bucket and start taking the grime off. Rely more on elbow grease to clean your ride, instead of an abundance of water.

6. Do not throw plastic waste anywhere except in the garbage bins. Ensure that they get disposed off properly. Else, they will come right back to us, bringing along more of their friends and fellow bags and choke us.

7. Most of all, teach the children how wrong it is to waste water, litter on the streets or participate in any kind of activities that harm the environment and foul the surroundings. Never forget: what goes around, comes around.

Show some love to our planet, this Valentine’s Day! You will be the biggest beneficiary!

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Of Flooding and… more flooding

Image courtesy: Manchester Evening News, Chennai Trekking Club

Image courtesy: Manchester Evening News, Chennai Trekking Club

 

“Please join us this weekend for a cleanup of the Adyar river. Assembly point: X. Time: Y am”

As recently as two days prior, I got this message. Despite many weeks having passed since, the effects of the colossal floods that hit TamilNadu are still being felt, with many areas still lying under water or the mountains of filth the waters threw up. Yes, the same garbage we mindlessly chucked around, now found its way back to the people! Go, Nature!

Weeks after the devastating TN floods, yet another part of the world suffered from similar events. Cumbria, in the north of England, home to the picturesque Lake District, woke up to knee deep water the day after Christmas. Things just got worse from there, with many people chased out of their homes at one of the coldest times of the year.

How did the two countries deal with their very similar disasters and what lessons can we learn from this, going forward?

1. The Home Team, Chennai

Cause: Despite the fact that a month of deluge really soaked the ground up completely, it was the release of the water from the local reservoir at supersonic speeds that upset the applecart.

Effect: Widespread floods along the banks of the river Adyar, many people losing their belongings and homes and more woe than you can bear. Grim was the outlook.

The immediate aftermath: Chaos. The city and the state were totally unprepared for this level of destruction and the Common Man swinging into action mode was what saved the day. Regular people prepared food by the tons, packed and took it to the starving masses. Local adventure sports schools took to rescue by putting their boats and kayaks to use.

And after? Once the army and the special forces entered the game, things started speeding up. Helicopters dropped food rations off for people waiting for them at the top of their buildings and rescued pregnant ladies from precarious situations.

2. The Away Team, England

Cause: The cause was rain and more rain. Typical for England, “more than a month’s worth of rain fell in a day”, across the part of the country that already receives a great deal of rain. A great deal of water + too little time = a massive flood.

Effect: People woke surprised to see water inside their previously warm houses. Widespread flooding, with more flood warnings put into place.

Immediate aftermath: The affected were moved to the local community halls whilst the local councils went about inspecting the flood defence systems and inspecting damage.

In both cases, “record” amounts of rainfall fell on the areas, setting up the situation for a crisis event. What differed massively was the difference in the approach to combat it. In both countries, the officials swung into gear straightaway, assessing damage along the line and inspecting the affected areas. But the major difference was the bulk of the citizens that swung into action in Tamil Nadu, trying to help their fellowmen. They, the volunteers, became an army, collecting money, basic essentials, clothes and even arranging for vital textbooks and reached it to the needy. Shockingly, there were many reported cases of politicians subverting their efforts and trying to put their stamp on it but the volunteers just stepped up their efforts.

In England, the elected officials and the council workers, whose job it was to do these things, arrived with the big machinery, cleaned up and supplied aid, till the affected could move on.

That, my readers, is the difference between the developing word and a developed one. And that is why, the locals are still relentlessly cleaning up the river banks and beaches, clearing up the garbage so life can return to normal, for man and animal. Or, in many cases, better than it was before.

 

 

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2015: A Look Back At Water Conservation

waterstories

Another year draws to a close. A year that began full of promise, as it does every year. A year that has brought a series of highs and lows. If water and the lack of it were the talking points in the beginning of the year, too much water and the resultant flooding in Chennai, while droughts ravaged Uttarakhand is how we are closing down this year. As if we needed more proof that water is the central need of every life!

Here’s a list of just some of the interesting articles published this year on water conservation. Here’s looking forward to a better and more sustainable year in 2016!

  • Leave it to the Americans to never give up, instead to hit winners even when the odds are so heavily stacked against! While everyone is talking about the drought in California, how it is just getting worse, the natives are just getting stuck in, setting records for water conservation! “The water board has assigned each community a mandatory conservation target between 4 and 36 percent, depending on how much water residents used last summer, that will be tracked between June and February. Cities that don’t meet these targets face fines or state-imposed restrictions on water use.”
  • About time too! Considering the majority of the state is a desert, you would think the government of Rajasthan would think long and hard about establishing a robust water conservation programme, but hey, better late than never, right? “”Taking the Maharashtra experience as the backgrounder, the state government has prepared a preliminary report on the guidelines to be adopted for execution of the plan,” Panchayat Raj and Rural Development Minister Surendra Kumar Goyal said while addressing a workshop in Jaipur.”
  • I first saw this at a Facebook-friend’s urban garden – when she had gone on holiday for a week, she ensured her beloved plants didn’t lack water by setting up a basic drip irrigation system. And here is ‘wick irrigation‘, a marvellous way to make a little bit of water go a long way. “‘Wick Irrigation’ (termed Thiri Nana in Malayalam) reduces the water consumption for agriculture to a great extent. It is specifically designed for terrace cultivation, of mostly vegetables, in grow bags.”
  • One of the most astounding news stories in this genre from earlier this year was the “Global Water Walk for Peace” held by Rajendra Singh, a.k.a “Waterman of India”, in order to raise the awareness of of the need for conservation of water. “The march, a part of the ongoing CMS Vatavaran Film Festival began in the morning from the Rajiv Chowk Metro Station culminating at the NDMC Convention centre, where the festival is being held.”
  • Even as Tamil Nadu was in the midst of the wettest November since records began,  a pilot project for conserving groundwater was being rolled out in the two districts in Karaikal. Upon the successful completion of the pilot, the project will be extended into the “problem areas of nearby Puducherry”. “Mr. Subburaj said that as of now, there was not serious exploitation of groundwater in Karaikal.
    However, there was a strong case for setting up rainwater harvest structures in all the 6,000-odd domestic and commercial complex in the district for long-term benefit on the lines of the Tamil Nadu.”
  • Saving energy saves water  “The United Nations forecasts that 1.8 billion people will live in regions of “absolute water scarcity” by 2025. In India water access is expected to worsen as the overall population is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by 2050…. According to current estimates amongst the regions which are most vulnerable to water scarcity in the next 20 years, India comes number second after Middle East followed by Mexico and the American Southwest.”
  • After the huge floods that nearly decimated villages in interior Tamil Nadu while many in the North were in desperate need of water, experts in the field got together at Manipal University to talk about conservation. “K. Narayana Shenoy, an expert in water issues and conservation of the water, warned that unless the country and the people adopt water conservation methods and take up the recharge of the groundwater levels seriously, the future would be bleak with an acute shortage of drinking water.”
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Chennai Floods: Whys and Wherefores

The brave volunteers of the Chennai Trekking Club during a rescue

The brave volunteers of the Chennai Trekking Club during a rescue. Photo credit: Peter Van Geit

The monsoons are a much-awaited occurrence in India. The first rains always fall with this slow grace and rather than chilling you to the bone, the raindrops are almost balmy, temperature-wise. The slow fall of the rain, the pitter-patter of the raindrops and the heady petrichor that follows a good soaking, these are generally the memories associated with the Indian monsoon. With hot tea and fried snacks coming on the menu to help chase the chill of the rainy days, the monsoons are definitely much-loved events.

Till December 2015.

After a November when it rained pretty much non-stop, the deluge that arrived with December pretty much wiped out the city. For days, it was like a combination of Apocalypse and Hunger Games, with the citizens battling the waters and trying to save themselves and their loved ones. Regular people swung into action and became heroes, heroic rescue efforts were carried out and with almost every modern convenience such as electricity, internet, mobile phones, fresh water gone, it made for a brutal week for most. For some though, their horrors still continue.

So, what brought this mayhem down on our heads? Typically, any flooding is a natural disaster but was this a natural calamity or a man-made disaster?

  1. Urban planning – or lack thereof is cited as the primary reason for this disaster. For what is one of the top metro of a country the size of India, Chennai (and Bengaluru, to name two) boasts a woeful lack of urban planning. Unlike in the cities of the West, where the areas are zoned and laid out carefully, taking a host of factors into consideration, Indian cities are built with nary a thought to the bigger picture. Educational institutions, office buildings, parks, none of these are planned and executed; instead, they are built wherever the builder or the promotor deigns they will be.
  2. Lack of awareness – of the local topography and/ or an apathy towards it. The inherent need to get on the property rung drove the masses to just buy  a dwelling wherever their wallets allowed them to. They did not question if their dreams are being built on solid ground, former agricultural lands or flood plains. Even IT companies and SEZs weren’t exempt from this – one of the biggest on the OMR was built on the converging point of two vast lakes. Fact: if you build your home where water used to flow, you shouldn’t be too surprised to find yourself in water at some later point.
  3. Lack of preparedness on the part of the governing bodies. In short, disaster management was nothing short of a disaster in itself. As always, the onus was on the common man to help himself and his fellow men out of the soup.

So, now what? The waters have receded now but the havoc they wrought still remain. What lessons need to be learned from this?

  1. Awareness – of the world around us. Basic geography; an understanding of where the flood plains are and is it sane to build on a piece of land is a question that must be asked, along with the cost of a square foot.
  2. Preparedness – now that we know what’s the worst that could happen, we need to be better prepared to face it. Understand that water sees no difference – if you are in its way, it is going to wash over you. It is in your best interests to ensure you are not.
  3. Mindfulness – think of the bigger picture. All the talks about sustainability and conservation need to be put into use now. Remember: garbage in, garbage out. Rainwater harvesting, indoor composting, urban gardening, harnessing solar energy, these are all what we must adopt and start putting into use right away. Next time we might not be so lucky.
  4. Humility – Nature is far bigger than all of us. We need to treat it with respect as running roughshod over it is what has brought us to this state.

 

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What’s The Skinny On El Nino?

El Nino

Ever since climate change became something that could be ignored no longer, El Nino has been something we have been hearing more and more of. Folks that have no clue what in the blue blazes is an El Nino when it is at home, have been throwing it out in conversations, so much so it has become the thing to pin everything that’s wrong with the world currently on.

What really is an El Nino? At its simplest, El Nino is a complex weather pattern particular to the Pacific Ocean, that is a result of the variations in the ocean temperatures. El Nino also has a sister pattern called La Nina, which is a cold phase of the ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) cycle, while El Nino is the warm phase. These patterns last for periods of around 9 – 12 months on average and occur every two to seven years.

Despite the fact that everything, right from Maggi’s fall from grace to Chennai resembling Cherrapunji is blamed on El Nino, what are all the ills that can rightfully placed at ENSO’s feet?

  1.  In South America, especially Peru and Ecuador, every three years or so, the ‘El Nino effect’ occurs, which is rather disastrous to the fishing economy. Not enough fishes are available, to the detriment of the fishermen and the animals that feed on the fish. Another result is torrential rainfall in the costal areas.
  2. Similarly, in California, where the havoc caused by the El Nino effect results in the decrease of the number of fish, resulting in collapse of fisheries and the animals that rely on the fish, such as seals, to die of starvation. The climatic conditions also cause the rise of storms and heavy downpour.
  3. On a positive note, there are fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic during the El Nino years; milder winters in western Canada and NW USA and above average rainfall in the Florida region.
  4. In India, El Nino is said to have caused the below normal monsoon in Northern and Central India for the past two years. “This is a typical El Nino feature where northwest India and central India will receive less rainfall”, said the head of the Indian Meterological Dept’s Long Range Forecast department.
  5. In fact, this year the El Nino is supposed to “cause havoc on the world”, according to this cheering information from the New Scientist.

Time to batten down the hatches, I say.

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A Case Of Too Much All Around

Spectacular photography by Neetesh Kumar

Spectacular photography by Neetesh Kumar

 

The past couple of weeks have been vastly interesting ones in Chennai for many reasons. For one, the monsoon set in and how! We had rains and more rains and pretty soon, way more than we knew what to do with.

Which brings us to the second reason: how prepared are we for Nature’s bounty?

Arguably, this season’s rains were not the norm – but, we can never exactly gauge what Nature is going to do, right? Shouldn’t we be in a situation to deal with the excess windfall and utilise it for our times of need? In an ideal world, yes, but we are living in one far from it. So, the waters came in, flooded us out and left us in dire straits. As if this is not dismal enough a situation, imagine how we are going to be feeling when summer comes around and we are left with no potable water, as with every year.

So, what was the reason for the disastrous few days? Too much rain? Cyclone in the offing? Poor urban planning? El Nino? All of the above?

The rains threw up plenty of cracks in the way we do things down South, both good and bad. While Good Samaritans that threw open their homes and hearts to help their fellowmen were definitely the ‘good’ part of it, the ‘bad’ came in the form of just how badly planned our city is to handle such disasters. A truly global city would have been prepared to handle this by clearing out the storm water drains in advance and storing the excess water for future times of need. Instead, the poorly laid roads got washed away in the deluge, leaving behind huge potholes everywhere. These proved to be even more hazardous for the motorists as one didn’t know if the water in the roads was the same depth everywhere or if there was a massive dip in the middle.

Then there’s the plight of people in the outlying areas, where poor urban planning was thrown in spotlight. In supposedly upmarket areas of the OMR, where the bulk of the construction work is happening, lack of sewage solutions meant even the poshest of developments got flooded and people evacuated. By boats! Elsewhere, thanks to the decimation of their own living areas, the reptiles of the neighbourhood took refuge in people’s homes, which are most likely where their homes used to be. Unnerving sight, all right!

I wonder what the cost of the loss of productivity for these days is, to the government. As well as the money that needs to be spent in setting the city right.

There’s only so much we can pay – messing with Nature and then paying the price later on before it becomes too much, too late.

Have You Bid Farewell to Ganpati Yet?

Image courtesy: Webpothi

Image courtesy: Webpothi

The other day, as I was walking past a street in my neighbourhood, I spied this small, dirty toy. Or so it seemed at first glance. A child’s discard toy, I thought. On my next round, I saw more clearly – it was a mud statue of Lord Ganesha, that must have held the pride of the place in someone’s pooja room last week, was now quietly sitting on a dusty street corner.

Five to ten days after he was feted and made a huge deal of, Lord Ganesha is  ceremoniously bid farewell and dumped ignobly in, forgotten till the festival rolls around the next year. But the impact this festival, that is becoming a larger fiesta year after year, has on the environment is heartrending.

Traditionally, the Ganesha statues and the pooja itself are supposed to be the embodiment of all that is simple and biodegradable. Idols made of clay and items of decor such as grass and flowers of weeds that you normally would not even look at; and at the end of it, the idol is thrown into the household well and becomes one with the earth again. With zero carbon imprint, Lord Ganesha’s birthday used to be a forward-thinking and an eco-friendly festival since anyone can remember.

That is, until the “bigger and better” fever started gripping the nation. Gone are the simple idols made of clay and mud. In its place are the fancy Plaster of Paris models, with their toxic paints. Instead of the small images of the Lord, like some insane muscle-flexing contest, people are vying with one another to create massive statues and erecting them in every street corners. All of this results in bigger fanfare compared to the humble domestic festival. These gigantic statues need massive processions and a ceremonial immersion in the sea or river or whatever is the nearest water body.

The result? The toxic paints wash away and mix with the water, polluting it and killing all the fishes and turtles and other creatures that call it home. That this goes completely against the ethos of the Ganesha Chathurthi seems to have slipped the revellers’ minds, even as they continue trashing the environment year after year.

This year too, is no different. Long before the festival, environmental groups and activists started urging the citizens to be mindful of the world around us and not destroy the water as it is home to plenty of creatures. But, as with every year, those pleas seem to have fallen on deaf ears this time around too, as the photos published in various newspapers show.

Yamuna cries on Ganpati visarjan“, declares TOI. Elsewhere, there were reports of cities immersing their idols in pits  and requesting devotees to stay away from water sources. Goa authorities have ordered water tests to determine the water purity, after the immersion. It is obvious that everyone recognises the practice of the idol immersion is affecting the water bodies and the lives that depend on it. Is enough being done to stop the pollution, to make the practice the environment-friendly activity it once was, is now the question.

What did you do with your idol this year? Did you throw it away, because, let’s face it, our wells are all running dry now? Did you mix it in a bucket of water and use it on your plants? Or did you make one out of chocolate instead, like this lady, and mix it with milk, to feed it to the underprivileged children?

However you bid farewell to Lord Ganesha, we hope you did it without harming the environment!

 

 

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Water Crises: A Solution From The Past For Our Future?

stepwell

Every day, an average person’s social media feed is inundated with information, worded expertly for their shock value. Last week, one such cropped up on mine and it shocked me, all right.

“India’s ground water supply to run out in 2040!” it stated in no uncertain terms. In 25 years time, our country will run out of ground water. Between now and then, as our supplies go on down, the situation will become more and more dire. Remember what it is said: the next World War may well be fought over water – or our lack of it.

Now can you imagine the starkness of our situation?

When I was discussing this with my family over Sunday lunch, after the initial round of disbelief, one of my aunts asked this: “2040? Then we still have time to undo this, right?” I do not know about undo; how could you undo generations of abuse? Every day, we waste tonnes and tonnes of water; we proceed blindly, digging bore wells here and cutting trees there, with nary a thought towards the long term repercussions. How do you even begin to try to undo that?

But this doesn’t mean that the outcome is a foregone conclusion. We still can rein things in and stem the tide of damage. We still can come up with counter measures and contingency plans that can reduce the severity of the situation. And, who knows, buy us time. Because one thing is certain: if we do not start acting with forethought now, we will be in deep trouble long before 2040.

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 Do you know what a baoli is? Baoli or bawdi is a traditional step well, which were quite common in  our country for centuries. Stepwells were found even in the the days of the Indus Valley civilisation. A pond or well serving a local area would have deep stone steps cut into its sides so that the people could climb down to the water and help themselves to it. These baolis had huge cultural significance to the lives of the people of the community, all of which came to an end with the advent of the British Raj.

But now, they are seeming something of a resurgence. Rapid depletion of ground water has made the people look into alternate sources and coupled with rainwater harvesting methodologies, baolis are being seen as good ways of combating the severe water shortage across the country. Many of the baolis have either fallen into disrepair or have been destroyed completely, thanks to the rapid and mindless urbanisation. In Delhi, for example, only 15 remain.

Under the guidance of NGOs and archeological trusts, the existing baolis are slowly being restored. Perennial problem demands a solution beyond the times, surely.