So the papers are full of news that the ground water table in northern India is being seriously depleted, and so it threatens destroy our agricultural output. Of course while the media may have just caught up with this story, common people have known this for 20 years now. Ever since the agricultural revolution was based on tube wells in the 1950″s, ground water is being steadily depleted.
In my youth, my Grandfather used to have a vegetable garden in Delhi, to which the water source was a hand pump. It took just one downward stroke to bring the water gushing out. My sister and I had endless joy bathing underneath the hand pump, and munching away at the vegetables in the garden. I don’t think our Grandfather liked us very much. He was constantly shooing us away from his beloved vegetables !
Over the years it was more and more difficult to suck water out of the ground however hard you tried, and today the hand pump stands alone in a dried up vegetable patch as a monument to an ancient time when water was plentiful,
None of us would have believed that water would run out on us, but it has. We have disrespected something that all cultures, in some form or the other, have worshipped. And now it is gone, and we still are too lazy, or have too much inertia to do something about it. Only when the taps run dry will we know the worth of water.
Problem is that all the media and the policy makers and most of us are basically urban dwellers, believing that somehow it is the government’s responsibility to ensure we have running water in our taps or pipes. It is, and bad water management is one of the worst crimes of successive Indian governments over the last three decades. But we too are to blame.
Do not believe that a lack of water in the agriculture sector is not affecting us in the Urban sectors. Other than the obvious conversation about food prices, some of the greatest migrations to urban cities over the last 10 years has been due to collapse of rural communities as agriculture is unsustainable due to disappearance of ground water which supports almost 60% if Indian Agricultural output.
We are growing into unsustainable overloaded Mega Cities now, where the infrastructure is collapsing and taps are running dry. How long before Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai run out of Water ? Where will the people go then ? People learn to live with no food for 3 days at a time sometimes, but no one can go through a day without water…….
……The other day I drove down Gurgaon in Delhi to a place called Sona. When in college, Sona was a little village that we used to sneak away with our girl friends – secure in the knowledge that no one would ever find out what our generation really got up to. But now Delhi had extended itself to Sona with miles and miles of huge apartment complexes – mostly empty. Gone were the lush green farms and the happy faces of villagers, and the sugar cane fields from which we regularly stole a few stalks of ‘Ganna’ to chew on. Gone were the little villages where you could buy some of the most delicious ‘Gur”.
My first thoughts were : “Where’s the Water going to come from ?” I asked and was told that the few buildings that were occupied were getting their water by Tankers from outlying villages and tube wells. So the City is sucking the agricultural areas dry, cannibalising the agricultural sector,and compounding the problem. Lakhs and lakhs of villagers, having lost any hope of surviving, move into the cities looking for a livelihood.
No, if we are not careful, the social upheaval that will occur in our cities, the riots that will break out will lead the cities into civil war, and in the midst of the chaos and break down in law and order, the underworld will take over the distribution of water.
As it has already in so many parts of Mumbai, where it controls the supply of Water tankers and where it controls illegal connections of pipes.