Every drop of water saved or reused is water conserved. And, water conservation is of critical importance today in India. The underground water tables have plummeted sharply. With recharging failing to keep pace with withdrawal, it is becoming an unsustainable scenario. Water resources are dwindling or drying up as the last drop is squeezed out to satiate the parched throats and soil. Deficient rains in the past few years have led to further draining of this precious and scarce commodity. Drought-like conditions prevail widely even as a heatwave sweeps across. That the pre-monsoon rainfall was the lowest in 65 years this time is a red flag. The Central Ground Water Board has warned that Punjab will become a desert in 25 years if the reservoirs are exploited at this rate. Also alarming is the Niti Aayog report which foresees 21 cities, including Delhi, running out of underground water by 2020 due to its rampant extraction. Such abuse of nature’s nectar only flows towards acute water stress.
But thankfully, amid this sinking gloom, heartening stories of water preservation and reuse are unfolding. The Golden Temple, Amritsar, is looking into a methodology that will enable it to recycle the pools of water for washing the devotees’ feet. There is a plan to harvest the drained water and reuse it in washrooms or for watering plants or washing cars etc. Haryana has made rainwater harvesting mandatory in all new buildings; so has Chandigarh. The groundwater table of Jamia Millia Islamia has risen by 1 metre as the university has been replenishing its soil by injecting harvested rainwater into it. Next, it plans to dilute the salinity. Delhi’s schools and colleges which have failed to install rainwater harvesting systems have been fined Rs 5 lakh by the NGT. Farmers are shunning water-guzzling crops.
If such efforts are replicated with zeal in every organisation and home, along with the Centre’s taking on the issue by the horns with the Jal Shakti Mantralaya’s mandate, there is hope for mitigation. A sense of consciousness must be inculcated in each person. He has to pitch in. Only then will his pitcher remain full. Otherwise, it will remain a mirage.