We have long passed the danger point on Water, and are in a crisis situation. Which is why I decided to make my next film on Water, called Paani (water in Hindi) . Its time has come now as water is high on the consciousness on the people. When I first thought about it 10 years ago, it was a difficult film to get financed. People did not believe that we were heading to a potential wars on water.
Paani reflects a future society where water is used as a weapon of political and social control.
Of course I am dealing with a Mega City, as even according to the UN the world is moving towards cities of 30 to 40 million people with inadequate infrastructure. The most dangerous of that is water. We are not far away from social conflict over water, say, in Mumbai or Mexico City. or even Los Angeles a little later. One event could trigger it. 10% economic growth in India and China is not possible if large populations are thirsty. In an integrated Global economy, economic growth is possible only without social unrest. Depletion of water resources will destroy all of that.
Europe is already under pressure from immigration from north Africa. Imagine a million thirsty people migrating in search of water. Which army in the world will be able to stop that ?
Rising urbanisation is often at the cost of break down of rural and therefor the agricultural economy. Almost 65% of India’s agriculture depends on fast depleting ground water resources. Ground water resources meant for agriculture are being transferred to urban areas. As farmers see value of their land rising, they sell it to real estate developers, but gradually lose a traditional rural community. Their children finally turning to crime, as is evident in the surrounding new suburbs (Gurgaon) of Delhi after the money runs out. Of course politicians prefer to take water to a place with higher voter concentration. So the cycle is never ending. In Mumbai, for example, most water connections are illegal, and handed out by local political bosses to their vote banks.
Water is now going not where it is most needed, but where it gets the greatest price or votes. Privatization of water will provoke this problem further.
The ‘girl child education’ effort in India breaks down because she is the bringer of water. Her day usurped by just having to fetch water from many miles away. Everyday. You see that all over India, Africa and other parts of the world. The question of water is far more integrated within the socio economic fabric of our planet. Throw away a pair of jeans and you throw away 6000 ltrs of water. Cotton is a ‘dirty water’ plant. The desire for an export economy and rising local consumption is a huge pressure on dwindling water resources. Destroyed forest land is often replanted with Eucalyptus because it grows faster and therefore more commercially viable. But it depletes water in the ground much more than it puts back.
We need an integrated approach to confront the situation. Rising consumption and economic stimulation packages are as important as global warming and dissapearing glaciers,
I have been in discussion with World Bank and many other organizations. Looking for ways to tie in with my film. Why must a film be just one event ? Can it become part of building a sustainable community around the issue of awareness of water.
Awareness at every level.
Do we our need to have taps gushing ? 90 % of water we use for washing hands is wasted. Products like shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, detergents push the idea of foaming. Greater foaming needs more water to wash it off !
I could go on.
What do we do ? In Mumbai people can shower for 24 hours a day without water running out. They do. Literally, across the road people are fighting over half a bucket of water delivered three times a week by tankers at an exorbitant cost by a growing water mafia. Who are taking control over water in major urban areas.
Awareness ? Film ? Community movement ?