Monday, September 14, 2015

Water Story & State of Sorry!

“It is life, I think, to watch the water. A man can learn so many things.” … Nicholas Sparks

Nicholas Charles Sparks is an American writer and novelist. He has published eighteen novels and two non-fiction books. Several of his novels have become international bestsellers, and ten of his romantic-drama novels have been adapted to film with multi-million-dollar box office grosses. Well he might be a non fiction writer but his above words sure are romantic but like a fiction for our beloved Pune city & when I say Pune city it includes each of us right from our rulers to common men of the city! Because we do see water but we haven’t seem to be learnt a single thing from the water! Take recent water supply cuts, & it’s not the cuts which are inevitable but it’s what happens to the cuts is what interests me.  In my childhood in Marathi we used to feed with some  “mhani” i.e. phrase or say phrases & we use to explain the meaning of it with example. Like “Khaket kalsa aani gawala walsa”, means something is so near to you & yet you turned the whole town upside down in its search & example was some boy having a pen in his school bag & yet searching it all around the school! When I read the usual water cut news & the hohaalalah about it I remember few of my childhood phrases in Marathi & they are “bail gela aani zopa kela” & “tahan lagalywar vihir khodane” i.e. the earlier phrase means someone’s bull has run away & the guy is sleeping & other is digging a well when you get thirsty!  I think we deserve these phrases as each year we are getting used to read such news as well the routine comments by every person in every field as well the headlines of news papers about water supply! I wonder on one side we are patting our backs for getting selected for Smart City nominations & on other side we can’t even manage our water supply which is a basic need of any civilization!

Joke is all the “save water” campaigns every NGO & Industry’s associations’ as well PMC i.e. municipal corporation, thinks of only when there is no water! Rather this year’s rain is an eye opener for every citizen of the so called water rich city of Pune & I am happy finally it happened that here comes a year with less rains rather far below the average! Many people won’t like this comment; rather most will think it as bad joke but somehow looking at the repeated cycles of our acts especially related to the water that’s what my sincere feeling is! As look at last few years scene when the rainfall was good & I clearly remember that two years back it was similar situation there was no rain throughout the month of June & till mid July & we have read similar headlines as well shouts of save water! As usual the PMC & Collectorate made standard rather age old announcements about no water supply to building constructions, ban on car washing centers & closer of all swimming pools etc! And then when situation become graver, water supply cut was announced i.e. alternate day water supply! Again as usual political personalities made allegations that building construction sites are still getting water supply so the administration was ordered to look in it but not to surprise nobody spoke anything about washing centers which we all know works under whose godfathership! I really pity this city & citizen as how many years we will be cheating our own self & keep ignoring what’s the mirror is showing is our own face & yet we refuse to accept that its ugly! And as the rain deficit was covered in later months, all announcements were forgotten, save water campaign was dumped & the city was again on its mission “waste water”! So when this year, second half of June went without rains & even July too, nobody was bothered thinking that this is routine & rain god will smile sure! And now when August & even half of September is gone now we are relaying only on showers from returning Monsoon, I wonder that at least now whether we have really awakened about water!

Problem is not water or rains but our attitude towards it & that’s why I said good; this year it didn’t rain even half of average as now at least we will understand what it is to live with no water! Being myself from rural part of Vidrabha i.e. water scarce part of Maharashtra; I know how is life with less or no water. Sad is we not just in Pune but entire State haven’t learnt anything from our past especially about water which is other name of life. This year the situation is more tough & looking at the changed rain pattern call it effect of global warming or whatever but here after this is going to be the way is what experts are commenting. Last year every month it rained & in monsoon we are facing shortfall, so what about that rain water which we had all along the year? Till now the policies we are using to conserve rain water needs to be changed (if at all we were having any such policies) keeping in mind this changed pattern of rainfall. Most importantly save water should not remain like a popular caption which we take out only when it’s no rains, is what we should understand! Water conservation is all year long process & every segment of society needs to understand their responsibility in this mission.

Like last year, fire crackers pollution levels were down by a great margin during Diwali & it was outcome of making school kids aware about pollution the fire crackers cause; we can make every single school kid aware about importance of each drop of water in his role in conserving or saving it! Work out Water Saving Index type tool by which we can explain how much water one person consumes each day & how much out of it he or she can save by being aware about the same. Ask the school kids to keep Water Saving Index of every person in their home & submit it in school & keep special marks for the best Index figures! Also arrange a period at least once a week on all school about water & its importance with audio visuals of draught hit villages, mainly to city school boys, so they can understand the grievance of the issue. We can think of conducting various quiz contests, poet as well essay writing competitions keeping water as focus point amongst the school kids. In short do everything to make them realize importance of water & it should be yearlong activity & not just during water shortage!

Then comes the various departments of not just PMC but the State Govt’s too, who are supposed to conserve the water. Frankly it’s the main reason of our today’s failure on water front that we don’t have one single authority about making water policies & which can be held responsible for the water supply as well its consumption & conservation! As right now we have many different departments right from irrigation to ground water to local bodies governing this topic as well jeevan pradhikaran but in the entire "who has to do what" game, nobody does anything is a fact or else today we won’t be facing the water scarcity all across the State. The uniqueness of this year’s water shortage is, it’s not just in some local patch or a region but has engulfed major part of the State & even good rain bearing belts also has been hit! As all the years somehow every time the rain fall has been covered in one of the four months so every departments failure was covered by nature but it’s said that even the gods don’t support the losers; which we are when it’s doing our duty at water front & not the gods also seems to have ditched us!

It’s high time that there should be water policy for every single village, town & metro cities of this State & it should include source, demand as well its type of use i.e. drinking, industrial, agriculture etc & then there has to be check that each user should be using the water allocated judiciously & conserving too! Frankly take example of our Pune city on this front & analyze what’s the scene & we will know how much lacking we are when its water management! We don’t know exact how much water we need & how we are going to provide it as it’s said that PMC need sixteen tmc water or draws this much quantity each year from irrigation department but out of this how much is actually used by end users & how much is conserved or recycled, where are these figures?  What about even distribution as the so called newly merged suburbs like baner balewadi don’t even has the water line networks is a fact so whatever this water PMC is getting is being used for approximately only 2/3rd of the city population. Now what if the network lines gets completed in these areas then whether this quantity will be sufficient & what about the proposed merging of twenty eight more villages? From where we will be getting water for these new additions in the city! Why not the water network is in place even water can be obtained later? In the Environment Clearance process the technical committee asks this question to the developer that what’s arrangement of the water supply & tanker water or bore well water isn’t considered as perennial supply! How come the developer can answer these question where as its responsibility of planning or governing body to provide basic infrastructure like water, drainage & power or else declare these lands as no development zone till the Govt is unable to provide them water, so no one will buy these lands& then don’t accept crores of rupees under the name of development charges which the builder & in the end common man is paying & yet is running around for every bottle of water!

Then look at the short term arrangements administration does to gain popularity; like not giving water supply to ongoing construction sites! Why this is not applicable to every hotel, restaurant, illegal slums or industries & IT Parks of the city, who are using much more water than the construction industry! I think the rulers should come out of such cheap tactics used to feed media or so called common man especially in crisis! As taking advantage of the situation why we can’t implement scheme like “No water supply without a meter”! May it be an individual or public body, how can we keep control on use of water if we don’t know how much water is being supplied or consumed? Years after years water charges or “Pani Patti” is same, think of increasing it as well add water network development charges separately in property tax bills & utilize it for the cause! 

Last & most important is framing long term water conservation policy & making it public along with implementation plan. This indeed is a tough job as it will vary as  per regionwise & let’s start with identifying sources, rather at some places even creating new sources can be the starting point & then adopt conservation measures & see that they are strictly followed. A periodical checkup of water sources as well that of conservation systems right from recycling plants to rain water harvesting to metering of supply to  “shet tali” type efforts,  confirming that functioning of every such effort is at place & with data recording figures of the same! It’s for this reason everything related to water has to come under one roof for keeping control on all such activities, so let’s form the system doing. As Nichols Spark says, real conservation of the water will be if we learn from water instead just wasting it the way we are doing for ages or else one day nothing will be left even to waste is the writing on wall! And for that every individual’s contribution is important, may he or she be from any city, village or Metro as water has no religion!

Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev.

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