How do we bring economy, and equity, to water supply?
There's a way
i believe that rising consumerism and our technology-driven economic development are to be blamed for the country's water scarcity. The truth is that all of us have for long been guilty of neglecting the managing of our natural resources, water in particular. It is of little importance whether water resources are privatised, socialised or left to local communities so long as only technology-based solutions are proposed to address scarcity. I firmly believe that only ecological solutions can bring economy, equity and purity to water supply.
After all, our streams and rivers are living entities and we must treat them as such. They exhibit a living continuum from the source to where they merge with the sea. Human beings must adapt their requirements to the physical and biological rhythm of streams -- this includes recharge and discharge of groundwater. Our ancient wisdom says that all water that falls from the sky should be divided into twelve parts: 6 parts must flow to the sea; 4 should go for the use of non-human nature; and only the remaining 2 are to be used by human beings!
The latest advances in hydrology provide a scientific basis to our ancient wisdom. Unfortunately these developments have not reached our scientists, engineers, administrators and politicians. Both supporters of the elite and champions of the poor in India remain ignorant of the science of ecology!
For the last 12 years, I have been disseminating the rudiments of ecological water management to irrigation and public works engineers. They understand the importance of the concept but are unable to introduce the desired changes within the iron frame of government and due to the rigid mindset of our bureaucrats. Ecological illiteracy is destroying the very foundations of our existence.
Prakash Gole is with the Ecological Society, Pune, Maharashtra
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