We might still have a few years to go till the apocalypse, but the signs are all too clear. India’s major cities are slowly rupturing, the cracks giving way to terrifying glimpses into what our future holds. The destruction and depletion of our water, our air – the very things that give us life – is bound to have tragic consequences.
Four of Chennai’s main water reservoirs have run dry and its groundwater levels are dismally low, leaving the city completely parched.
Hotels, hostels, offices and restaurants have had to shut down due to the acute shortage of water.
Private water tankers, which have been the only recourse for Chennai residents, have been charging exorbitant fees, further adding to the people’s woes. Despite this, they are forced to stand in line for hours to get water.
Then there was the recent report by the NITI Aayog about the capital’s own water woes. Delhi will in all likelihood run out of groundwater by 2020. Predictably, population growth has been one of the main reasons for this. However, failure to implement sustainable water harvesting resources has also contributed to it.
If it’s not the water however, it’s the air that’s working like slow poison in Delhi.
To say that its air quality is terrible is no exaggeration – Delhi literally has the worst air quality in the world, according to a report by the WHO.
The capital was found to have a heavy presence of PM10 particulate matter – 292 micrograms per cubic meter. The annual safe limit set by the WHO is 60.
Moving on to the Maximum City, there’s the unmanageable problem of the monsoons. The frequent deluges that seem to be just getting worse.
The most recent Mumbai downpour has brought the city to a standstill, with schools and offices shutting shop and people being advised to stay indoors.
Rail, air, and road traffic has been severely affected in Mumbai, with a massive number of flights being cancelled. Most flights have also been delayed for extended periods.
Then there’s Bengaluru. Who can forget the 10-foot-high toxic foam that spews from its lakes every time it rains?
Yeah, the weather there might be great, but the pollution, the maddening traffic situation, and the rent has made even this city difficult to manage.
Considering everything above, it’s pertinent to question if cities like Delhi and Mumbai are becoming unlivable. One is the country’s capital and the other is our financial capital – but what’s the use of fancy tags if there’s no practical way to survive in these places?
The need of the hour is a major overhaul of how we live. The way we use water, our reliance on plastic, our lax infrastructure to deal with disaster. Things need to change, and soon, otherwise we won’t have an urban India to save.