Do you know that 1 in 10 people across the world (785 million) still lack basic services, including the 144 million who drink untreated surface water?
We are lucky to be that 1 person out of 10 with access to clean and fresh water to drink, water to bathe as many times as we get sweaty, water to wash our clothes even if they are worn just once with no dirt (could be just rinsed), heavy flowing water in our kitchen sinks to make our dishes shine more than 3 times a day, flush toilets as many times as possible. Now that we are in lockdown, we pee more at home than on wall! While brushing our teeth, most of the youngsters are so lazy to even turn off the tap for 2-5 minutes. “Just let it flow, will gargle in a minute,” they say when asked to turn it off.
Isn’t this true? But we don’t realize that 1 minute is already 5 minutes and we must have wasted a bucket of water.
We are all going through this pandemic. Water gives us all the luxury we want in our homes as we have plenty of it! We haven’t thought of rain water harvesting yet! We haven’t thought of saving the moisture drained out by our air-conditioners! Have we?
But soon, time will come for our children to seriously start implementing these water-saving techniques. Our concrete cities and towns need to have open earth below, so that rain water seeps in and raises the ground water level which is already under threat.
Does the Smart City plan have this component?
We have to realize that heavy construction of concentrated apartments above a few thousand square feet, with thousands of families tapering high above depending on that small water table below, will definitely deplete the water tables so much that replenishment will be difficult at the same rate of usage. Nature’s giving back process has a limit. It cannot just give, give and give!
The Earth might seem like it has abundant water, but in fact less than 1% is available for human use. The rest is either salt water found in oceans, fresh water frozen in the polar ice caps or too inaccessible for practical usage. While population and fresh water resources demand are increasing, supply will always remain constant. And although it’s true that the water cycle continuously returns water to Earth, it is not always returned to the same place or in the same quality or quantity.
Only a fifth of the households in India of 1.3 billion have piped running water. In rural India, 83% lack piped water. Nearly 60% of urban households don’t either. More than half of India’s districts, according to the World Bank report, are threatened by ground water depletion or contamination.
About 1.8 billion patients and health workers face a higher risk of COVID-19 infection and other diseases due to lack of basic water and sanitation services, according to latest reports of WHO and UNICEF. Though we talk of washing hands for prevention, how many of our people have the access to even wash hands once a day!
It is my humble request that on this day, let us all pledge to save water, reduce water wastage, think of better technologies to save water for our cities, make rain water harvesting compulsory in homes, collection and storage of AC water for gardening purposes, plant more trees wherever possible, redesign streets without cutting existing trees which have been the lungs of the city since few hundred years and talk to our children about all this so that they are not surprised tomorrow!