'Springs of Life India's Water Resources' by Ganesh Pangare, Vasudha Pangare, Binayak Das Academic Foundation New Delhi
Springs of Life deals with the issue of water and its management in India in a terrible manner. The book suffers from factual errors, lacks depth in its analysis on groundwater issues and community programmes, and does not quite comprehend river issues, besides offering generic solutions, which obviously are not good enough.
The book is an outcome of two decades of observation and 25,000 km of travel by the authors across the country in a jeep. But the authors' sojourns include dialogues only with local people and not bureaucrats or ngos. In fact, the authors have taken a rather narrow view of ngos.According to them, visiting an ngo is like visiting a zoo because ngos can only innovate and not upscale the way a government can. The book advocates communities working with government as the best combination for rural water management. Having said that, a lot of effort and initiatives taken by ngos and community leaders across the country are listed in the book.
But what one fails to comprehend is while the authors talk about community leaders and community organisations, they support corporates instead. It would be too incredulous to just accept a comparison between a dam built by corporates in Chhattisgarh and a dam built by people on their own money in Rajasthan followed by a judgement thereafter saying the dam in Rajasthan isn't good enough because it has been built without the government's permission.
The book attributes the failure of the Ganga Action Plan (gap) to shortage of funds--clearly showing a lack of understanding. It says, "Untreated sewage water in Norway is cleaner than the water of Ganga." The fact, however, is that water not being treated is the problem. Which is why, neither gap i, nor gap ii, has met the targets for reducing pollution in the Ganga and its tributaries. The book also says that river systems like the Indus and the Ganges and Brahmaputra are regularly replenished by two monsoonal patterns, the southwest and the northeast monsoons. The fact is they depend purely on glaciers. Even the groundwater table of states mentioned are wildly mistaken.
The reverse osmosis technique has been recommended to purify water. It is a complicated process, besides being expensive. It rejects 60 per cent of water thus leading to a lot of wastage. Use of traditional and cost-effective methods--such as boiling, filtering with a cloth--to purify water have not even been mentioned. On the other hand, the authors give generic and basic solutions such as "common sense" and "fair and just means" for solving issues.
The water voice chapter has views of well-known people from the field of academics, politics, industry, journalism and wildlife. The contributions contain their personal experiences, thoughts and opinions on what water means to them and what they feel is the future of water in India. The book concludes by stressing the importance of reviving our traditional water harvesting structures and the importance of studying the technology and the management of such systems. We need to go back to our roots and re-educate ourselves. A lot of unlearning and relearning is required. Indeed.
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