Recently we at SVYM celebrated the World Water Day. It has now become symbolic to have different days earmarked for different occasions. They indeed serve the purpose of reminding us of the importance of the different issues that mankind needs to remind itself and focus on, if the world needs to be a better place to live in. While it does achieve this to a limited extent, I was wondering if many of us would actually internalize the message of such events and make it a way of life. While in the case of water, I do not think we have a choice. Water being inseparable from life, man will have no alternative but to constantly think of how to optimize its usage and how best to ensure that we have enough of it going around. It is even popularly quoted that the next world war will be fought in the name of ‘water’.
Let us look at some basic facts. Less than 3% of the water available in the world is fresh water. Only 0.57% of the world’s water is actually available for human consumption. Increasingly there are tensions between not just communities and states within India but international disputes arising out of the way we share and use water. While the per capita availability of water in India in 1951 was 3450 cm, it was 1250 cm in 1999. This, according to the Ministry of Water Resources, is expected to decrease further to 760 cm per person in 2050 (Ref: The Observer of Business and Politics, 23 April 2000). This is going to make our problem unmanageable if we do not do anything today.
The challenge in water management is not only to ensure that we have sufficient for our individual usage and consumption but also ensure that there is enough going around for our agricultural and industrial use. Whether we like or not, we are dependent on water not just for our physical survival but also to ensure that we survive as socially and economically productive communities.
And let us not forget, man is only a small participant in the larger ecological scenario. We need to ensure that we manage water wisely to ensure the survival of not just the human race but of ‘life’ itself.