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Water Crisis? Pay the price for your indifference.

Running taps wasting water, wasted lighting overusing scarce power resources and continuous abuse of the environment are a reality which is stark in all parts of the country where the resources are available in plenty.

  • How many of us have the discipline or have trained our children to turn off the power switches when not in use?
  • Those of us who are blessed with running water in our homes, how do we manage our water at home ?
  • What about garbage segregation ? – How many of us segregate garbage into organic and inorganic at home so that they can be processed better ?
  • How many residents of high rise buildings / complexes / mohalla committees have got together to form committees to manage, monitor and take corrective action to manage these scarce resources better in each of our communities ?

It is easy to blame the government when scarcity hits us in the form of power cuts, low water pressure and the expense and agony of getting water supply through tankers or the all pervasive garbage stink which most locations have learnt to live with. The ubiquitous government employee may be inefficient but he is a part of the same society that you and I are from. In a majority of cases, we as a society do not care and will go through suffering as inevitable and externalize the blame.

You do not need a genius to figure out that our nation has a perennial crisis in water, power and continuous degradation of the environment. Educated citizens in urban India also understand the baby steps that each of us need to take to harvest and conserve water resources, to manage the power usage responsibly and steps that each of us can take to make our environment even better. Despite its apparent advantages, how many highrises have invested in rain water harvesting ? Even if the ground water in your locality if not potable, such water can still be used for toilets ? A tanker of water of dubious quality today cost upwards of Rs. 700/- each and while there is no commitment to be able to respond to a prescribed time schedule, a couple of tankers for small buildings and more for larger ones can set your cooperative society back by atleast Rs. 1500/ per day during times of water shortage. Is this affordable monetarily, logistically and from a health perspective ?

I am currently in Chennai which every summer faces a major water crisis. For the first time since 1945, the water situation in the city is in good shape – thanks to the abundant rainfall this year in March. Having said that, early morning walks reveal a host of senior citizens who have seen the worst water crisis lamenting on the wastage of water as taps and overhead tanks in buildings overflow due to sheer negligence of the residents / the administration service in each of these communities. How can memories of the crisis and shortage be so short lived to a level where people are oblivious to the obvious waste. If such all pervasive indifference prevails, the days of shortage and crisis are not far away.

Buildings In Thane located at higher ground levels have a huge problem with water pressure and collectively spend crores every summer to manage. Side by side, buildings at a lower level have poor administration systems and a lot of water is wasted everyday. The inefficiencies of the government systems in terms of water administration, poor equipment upkeep, lack of administrative prudence and logistical scheduling in the water valve management at both government and the local complex levels ensures such lop sideness. To manage this better this needs a monitoring mechanism, a movement for which needs to commence at each community level – building society, complex committee and create a large lobby which can influence change.

At Hiranandani Estate, a community initiative to solve the water crisis by buildings on higher ground clearly reveals that if the committee monitors and manages the timing of opening of valves and gets every building within the complex to take steps to prevent any water wastage, there is enough water for every apartment. Supplement this with a good rain harvesting process and a rigourous local system to eliminate wastage, this problem can easily be managed within reasonable limits. Even a community overhead tank which is being built in the complex will be unable to solve the problem if community consciousness to conserve water is not initiated.

The government mechanism can only be pushed to respond when we exercise prudence on our own communities.

I would like to summarize this article with a quote from Mother Teresa - “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean But if the drop were not in the ocean, I think, the ocean would be less because of it I do not agree with the big way of doing things To us, what matters is the contribution of each individual.”

In subsequent articles, I invite your opinions on managing power conservation at the Locality level and invite electrical engineers to come up with out of the box solutions as well.