Every day we witness pathetic stories regarding crisis of water. We see our water taps thirsty for long. We see our citizens agitating against the scarcity of water. We find our rich streams have been left with dirt. The water as a precious resource has gone deep and deep and left our land dry. We have to accept that water there is also scarce now. Climate change has disturbed the Earth’s hydrological cycle (water cycle), changing when, where, and how much precipitation falls.
Humans are inextricably linked to the environmental landscape within which our daily lives unfold. We depend completely on nature for essential, life-sustaining services – clean air and water, a stable climate, food – yet our activities are having an increasingly dramatic and detrimental effect on wildlife and ecosystems, putting not just wild species but also our own survival at risk. The inconvenient truth is that we are meeting our short-term needs largely at the expense of the planet, and it is people – particularly those who are most vulnerable or who have no say in decisions about how natural resources are being used (including future generations) – who will suffer most (www.fauna-flora.org). With the water crisis in mind and then seeking good opinions from some vital members of the society makes it worth for me to share the concern and the remedies.
A renowned environmental expert, Prof. M.R.D Kundangar from Kashmir treats water as a social good. “Water is first and foremost a social good in Islam – a gift from God and a part of, and necessary for, sustaining all life. Water belongs to the community as a whole – no individual literally owns water. The first priority for water use is access to drinking water of acceptable quantity and quality to sustain human life, and every human being has the right to this basic water requirement. The second and third priorities for water are for domestic animals and for irrigation. Humankind is the steward of water on earth. The environment (both flora and fauna) has a very strong and legitimate right to water and it is vital to protect the environment by minimizing pollution. Individuals, organizations, and states are liable for harm that they have caused to the environment or to the environmental rights of others, including water use rights. Water resources must be managed and used in a sustainable way. Sustainable and equitable water management ultimately depends upon following universal values such as fairness, equity, and concern for others. Water demands good management. Water conservation is central to Islam. Mosques, religious institutes, and religious schools should be used to disseminate this principle so as to complement other religious and secular efforts. Wastewater reuse is permissible in Islam; however, the water must meet the required level of treatment to ensure purity and health for its intended purpose. Full cost recovery is permissible: that is, the full cost of supplying, treating, storing, and distributing water, as well as the cost of waste-water collection, treatment, and disposal. However, water pricing must be equitable as well as efficient”.
Prof. Yogesh Upadhyay, Academician and Management Guru from Gwalior, suggests that it is the every drop of water that matters. Water is important for tourism, rivers, agriculture etc. In fact it is the water that covers the basic sustenance of life. Humans must learn lessons in daily life how water can be effectively managed, which if mismanaged will pose a serious threat. How to ignite the appetite to do good for environment is a million dollar concern? Different routines and practices need to be revisited towards ever depleting and limited resources. Recycling of everything- water, food, waste, consumables, goods etc is the need of the time. We need not to wait for govt. to do something good for us, rather develop ways and means on our own to contribute towards sustainable society as an individual and as a group…..
Even best of the lessons can be received from those who have never been to school. We need to keenly listen to them and be motivated on our own. Rafiq Bhai, a general citizen and running a Tiffin center in Gwalior shared some grave concerns and measures regarding the ongoing water crisis. “We must revisit 30 years back time period and usage of water in the past. We have now wash basins in our houses, showering the huge quantity of water but more water is being wasted than being used. A good amount of water in routine we lose when we face wash or go for shave or brush. Earlier we used a balti (tub) and a mug for our bathing purpose but now we have showers running without calm. We can use those clothes which will require less water on washing…..We need not to use surf or detergent continuously in summer as it needs more water”. Iqbal Bhai, a neighbor joins in and asks Rafiq bai for the availability of water for the day. Rafiq bai responds that for last three days they have no water availability and facing huge problems. Now again showing concerns and further suggests that people are washing cars and other transport means regularly…We can dry clean cars and other vehicles without using water. Engineers of this country have a huge responsibility to put water harvesting as a big focus in design and construction activities. For every building we must have water sewage treatment system….We should have some harvesting system where authorities can think of storage, processing and usage of water in right ways…
Our society as a whole need to revisit religious practices deeply where there are opportunities to save huge quantities of water. We must do it being realistic and without being biased and intolerable towards other religions. A Jammu based lovely Hindu boy in my recent train journey added to my knowledge that Hindus earlier used to celebrate Holi with Gulal (natural colour from flowers) and there was little or no water being used to celebrate the festival. Moreover I got an attention of a video clip recently by some Muslim clergy where only a single cup of water can be sufficient for ‘wudhu’ (ablution) to offer prayers. The general practice is that we use twenty times more water for the same practice. Besides there is more water being polluted and wasted on ‘Eid-ul-Adha’ for ‘Qurbani’ (sacrificing an animal on Muslim festival) which can be saved significantly. There is also a good link between water and electricity, the more power saved means more water saved. Our houses and buildings need to have natural light system. Even we have sufficient natural light available but still we never dare to switch off lights to save the energy. We need to install energy efficient LED and fluorescent bulbs. This is an easy way to save energy and lower water foot print. Switching to solar energy is an alternative. Washing our clothes frequently is wasteful and bad for our clothes. We can also use many clothes which don’t require an iron. We can save water, money and energy by only boiling as many cups of water as we need. We need to think of using low flush toilet. Washing a full machine load of clothes uses small water than two half loads. We must turn off taps and try quickly fixing leaky taps. One study finds that about 6 litres of water a minute can be saved by turning off tap while we brush our teeth.
Residents from Cape Town have taken matters into their hands to avoid “Day Zero”, the date the city’s water supply was set to be turned off. A recent report reveals that it found one of these “Day Zero Heroes” in a modest looking house on the city’s outskirts. Masha-du-Toit is a teacher who has turned her home into a water harvesting and recycling machine. If it rains, Ms-du-Toit catches every drop with a series of large black tubs connected to her drain pipes. “There is soot, smoke, sand and bird droppings in there so this is not drinking water – this is for flushing the toilet.”She proudly showed her new toilet attachment (which makes it easier to “self-fill” the cistern) – the dirty dishes storage system (so the washing up is done less frequently) and her bucket-and-container strewn shower. “We don’t do this ‘two-minute shower’ anymore, we just do bucket baths,” she revealed.
Companies public or private that require relatively large amounts of water must have good water programs in place, especially areas that pose the greatest risk to water resources. Moreover innovators and thinkers must offer solutions ranging from a dry toilet to applications that include conservation agriculture to minimize soil disturbance, maintain soil cover and regularize crop rotation. Good solutions must be aimed in urban areas, including green buildings, green walls, roof gardens and vegetated infiltration or drainage systems, landscape restoration, or even systems that improve the performance of built infrastructure. The most important water management strategy: grow and produce things in the right place. In other words, water-intensive crops like rice and cotton should be grown in water-rich regions. The agricultural policy needs to be revolutionized to challenge conventional agricultural practices, which increases water insecurity.
With populations rising, the water scarcity stresses will only see a rise. There are indications that the world will badly suffer if the issue remains unnoticed. Water and resource management has to become an order of the day. At global and national levels, momentum is building to safeguard the water but a lot is to be done more. There has to be a change in our conservative approach and believe that together we can achieve and small initiatives matter a lot. It is not only the policy makers who have a role rather responsibility lies on each and every vital member of the society. We have the right and responsibility to think in different ways to save our water. The purpose is to show the progress being made and gaps needed to fill in order to solve the global water crisis. It is not something that we should take for granted. We should all make water saving part of our lives because our rich future depends on it.
(The writer is Assistant Professor, ITM University Gwalior and can be reached at: ([email protected])