We are reeling in the throes of a very severe crisis of water, reports Ratna Rajaiah. In her extremely caustic article she talks about how the daily lives of people in Mysore is being dominated by the availability of Water. For those of us that live in large cities where water still runs through our taps on demand, it’s a warning of things soon to come. Whether in London, New York,Los Angeles or Tokyo. ” 40% of Bangalore (India’s Silicon Valley) is getting water only once in 3 days. Do read …..
We are reeling in the throes of a very severe crisis of water.
We as in all of Karnataka, the thumb rule being, the poorer you are, the more wrong-side-of-the-Cauvery your address and the smaller your town, the less water you get.
Yesterday, the front page morning news said that 3000 villages in the state have severe shortage of drinking water. That means we wont even talk about how much water they get to bathe, cook and ablute
Naturally, the Chief Minister, always sensitive to such situations, immediately sanctioned 50 crores of rupees to tackle the problem. I know that I should have been impressed but since I am a foolish, uninformed, naïve Person On The Street (POTS ), I cant help wondering about a few things.
So, heres my Naïve, Foolish Question No 1:
If there is no water, how do you tackle the problem of water shortage?
Maybe we could take a leaf out of Marie Antoinettes book and give people let me see, now .if she suggested cake as substitute for bread then could it be cola for water? And how many villages can be cola-fied for 50 crores? (Im told that Hrithik Roshans current fee is 10 crores per film. So, how many Sabka Thanda films would Aamir do for 50 crores?)
More importantly, the Chief Minister also endorsed the idea of opening 24/7 (no relative of the TV news channel) control rooms to repair water pumps and such like things.
Naïve, Foolish Question No. 2 : Why werent the pumps repaired earlier like say before the onset of summer?
Naïve, Foolish Question No. 3 If there is no water, what are they going to pump?
Or better still, Eau De Cologne? Which, if you think about it, will be great because it will cool you down AND tackle the stink of unwashed bodies, stagnant drains and toilet cooking in 35 + degrees heat. And it will also put Karnataka on the global map because Eau is water in French
(Though Im not sure of the Eaus properties as a thirst quencher even though it means water in French.)
Now, fortunately for me, I dont live in one of those 3000 villages but in Mysore – a city that is flanked by not one but two rivers the Cauvery and the Kabini.
So, obviously we dont have a water problem, right.
Let me answer your question like this.
As of this Saturday, we get water once in every 2 days. And we live in one of the righter side of the Cauvery areas not posh, but getting there. Now, the critical word in that statement is day – which can be a tad misleading because most POTS will assume that day means what is also called waking hours, stretching from about 6.30 am to 11.30 pm. (Those were my waking hours.)
For the Water department of MCC (which does not stand for the Marleyborne Cricket Club but the Mysore Municipal Corporation), day begins roughly around 3 am and ends at around 6.30 am. I know. Youre thinking thats only 4 hours. Well, these are difficult times you know and everything is rationed. Water. Daylight hours.
So now, I have turned into a water POTS, sleeping deeply by day and napping fitfully at night, leaping up at the faintest sound of drip-gurgle-goosh-drip-gurgle-goosh-goosh-goosh (the sweetest sound in the world), so that I can hunt water in the stealth of the dark, trap a few bottles to drink, prowl and prey on a few buckets to cook and bathe with.
And so, my day begins at 3.30 am
But only on alternate days, I must add and marvel at the thoughtfulness of the MCC. Because on the days when there is no water, I get to slumber on, nary a care in the world, not a drip-gurgle-goosh-drip-gurgle-goosh-goosh-goosh to disturb my sleep.
Now if this sounds like I am cribbing, Im not. I am just counting my blessings, because you see, we are the very, very fortunate ones. There are places not so far away from here where water comes only once a week, maybe even once in ten days .And places where they may not even know when the water will come and all they can do is call the 24/7 control room to repair the water pump to pump the water that isnt really there
I have devised ingenious methods of conserving water nothing that will fill the KRS, mind you, but gargle 3 times after brushing my teeth instead of the usual 6 and have perfected the art of bathing with ¾ of a bucket of water. (Not that difficult if you concentrate and pour right) We choose the lunch menu based on what takes the least amount of water to cook with and clean up later and we arent encouraging guests.
Dont laugh. If shutting off a tap that drips 10 drops of water in a minute can save 270 gallons a year, my cutting my morning gargle by 50% should amount to something, is it not?
And in the 2 inches of brackish water that sloshes around in my water-deprived brain, more Naïve Foolish Questions bob around like so much jetsam
Last night, I was reading William Dalrymples book, The Age of the Kali. Pages 165 to 173 are devoted to Bangalore and I quote: The government of Karnataka, which has proved itself adept at attracting foreign investment, soon showed itself to be wholly unable to cope with the massive expansion that it was able to generate. Suddenly there was never enough electricity .it was the same with water, which was usually available in taps for less than an hour a day The book was written in 1998. Nine years later, the morning news says 40% of Bangalore are getting water once in 3 days. When will we ever learn?
What is it like to have a 2 month old baby, not be able to afford disposable diapers and manage to have clean nappies using water that arrives once in 3 days for 4 hours?
Why is it that we always wake up to a water crisis when the water level in the KRS is 12 feet lower than it was at the same time last year? Shouldnt alarm bells start ringing much earlier? When the water is 3 feet lower, maybe?
Dont the Municipal authorities know how to do simple math? I mean, how difficult is it to match the amount of water needed by a city with the amount of water available in the reservoir? By how many feet does the level of water in the KRS have to be lower than it was last year before this happens?
Why is water or any other civic issue for that matter always only a problem for the authorities to solve? How come in all the caterwauling and screaming about the incompetence of the authorities to manage the water situation, there is not a single drop of a suggestion from concerned citizens groups about we can do to help? For example, in Mysore, most people live in independent houses and wash their compounds every single morning, often with the tap running constantly. How come we arent rallying together to tell the MCC that we will was our compounds only once every 3 days until the water problem abates?
All over Mysore and I am sure it is the same in Bangalore buildings of all kinds are continuously under construction. If there is such a water crisis, where are these builders getting their water from? Or are they simply using cola (or Eau de Cologne) to mix the cement…
How many gallons of water would you need to run a hotel with 200 rooms, 4 fancy restaurants and clientele who are paying upwards of 5000 rupees a night as tariff? Of the millions of gallons of water being pumped out to a city every day, a fair number must be going to hotels. So how about the hotel industry in Bangalore chipping in and announcing that for one day of the week for the next two months, the hotels remain closed in order to do their bit for water conservation?
And here is my final Naïve Foolish Question .
What if the monsoons fail this year?