The drought in some parts of Maharashtra has forced people suffering from it to make some drastic changes in their lives. And I don’t mean “oh I couldn’t take a proper bath today” kind of change. I’m talking about thousands of villagers migrating into cities, because they were forced to. If that doesn’t make you pause and understand the gravity of the situation, how about this – a 12-year-old girl died of dehydration and heat stroke while she was on her way, for the fifth time in a row, to fill a pot of water from a hand-pump that was 500 meters from her house.
And yet, some of us are still wasting water. As if drought and/or sudden urbanization is no big deal at all. A drought doesn’t hit us suddenly like an earthquake. There are proper warning signs most of the time. And especially in the current crisis the people of Maharashtra are facing, it’s pretty evident that there have been a series of management related failures that led to this terrible situation. But let me stop right there – this is not a whodunit. There is a problem and we need to fix it. And a major portion of that fix is stopping all the goddamn water wastage immediately. Here are a few things we can do –
1. Move over IPL, can we shut down water parks and golf courses temporarily?
I know, it’s summertime. And weekends with family or friends at some water park might seem like a great idea. But look at the bigger picture, people. Farmers are dying in villages. Crops are failing. Maybe, just maybe, if you stopped spending your money in water parks, or if you could host that corporate golf outing some other time, then perhaps we could use that water for other purposes that do not fall under the luxury bracket. Non-potable water can be used for gardening and irrigation. There surely has to be a way to shift focus to things we actually need.
2. Maybe change the way you wash your vehicles?
When you use a water hose to wash your cars, bikes and scooters, you tend to use more water than you actually need. Here’s an idea – acquaint yourself with these magical devices we call ‘bucket’ and ‘mug’. Yes, it might seem a little inconvenient at first, but that is nothing compared to the pain of the people who’re suffering the drought.
3. Builders and RWA people, ever considered rainwater harvesting?
In 2007, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) made it mandatory for the new buildings to have rainwater harvesting systems. Without it, they would not be given the occupational certificate. And yet, many new constructions in Mumbai and its suburbs do not have these provisions. This screams out corruption. Also, RWA people, if you’d worry more about rainwater harvesting than keeping an eye on which single person is living in which apartment, that’d be great.
4. Dear ministers, can we talk about your freaking helipads?
Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh attended the “Kisan Gram Sabha” on Sunday at Bhiwandi, 33 km from Mumbai. For his chopper to land, 10,000 litres of water were used to level the ground to make a makeshift helipad. I used to judge couples at weddings who spend shit tons of money on dresses they’d only wear once, but at least they weren’t wasting anyone else’s money. These ministers on the other hand – they could surely drive to the drought hit locations instead of rubbing salt on the wounds of the affected locals.
5. People, don’t keep your taps running.
It’s simple. We turn the tap off when we’re not using it. Do you need to hear the sound of running water while you’re still brushing or shaving? Sorry, by the power vested in me by common civic duty, let me tell you that you don’t have that luxury. People who keep their taps on and leave their homes with the hope that their buckets will get filled by the time they return, YOU’RE HUMANITY’S SKID MARKS!
6. Bollywood, do we really need wet-looking item songs or fake rainfall scenes?
Filmmakers, I get it. An item song with water dripping over the bodies of the dancers sells tickets for you. But seeing how drought is affecting the lives of so many people who do not live that far from your sets, do we really need to use that water? Think about it.
Yes, this sounds like a rant. Any other time, it might have been one. But right now, it’s pure unadulterated anger. Water crisis, climate change, population explosion – these are real villains. Until we bring to power people who address these issues in a realistic way, this anger shall remain.