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Water On Our Minds

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Given the horrific drought conditions sweeping Maharashtra, it’s time you did your bit. Pooja Salvi & Purva Indulkar tell you how to save water in these dire times

Water is an elixir that we cannot afford to waste. You require it in one way or another for practically every activity — from that long shower you’ve been waiting for all day and brushing your teeth in the morning, to drinking water and washing utensils; it’s impossible to imagine life without it. However, the situation in the state has been pretty dire for the past three years, and is now so bad that there is barely any drinking water left in the Marathwada district. The problem has now hit the city of Mumbai, which is currently facing a water crisis. Read on to know more about how you can make a small difference.

THE WATER SHORTAGE
It’s difficult to say when this might have started, but many experts speculate that the root cause of the issue was the Green Revolution. The reason that farmers today are in a situation where their lands are exhausted and resources are empty is because of the Green Revolution. The use of biologically-modified crops that yielded more produce and required pesticides and non-organic fertilisers put an added demand on the land to such an extent that all the nutrients in the soil were lost. ­­To tackle the issue, the government recently introduced stricter norms for water distribution, but these aren’t doing as much good as we were hoping they would. From making water in dams available only for drinking purposes and not agriculture or irrigation to making sure that drinking water is available to the people living in the remotest areas of Marathwada, the norms look at helping the district cope with the shortage.

THE WATER SITUATION IN MAHARASHTRA
After the recent debate about whether the government should put a blanket ban on the Indian Premier League, the issue of the state’s water scarcity has come to the forefront. If you’ve been following the news, you may have realised that the stock of water in Maharashtra’s seven key dams has almost run out completely. One of them, Jaikwadi, which is the largest dam in Asia is almost empty. Experts have predicted that as the summer progresses, the situation in our country will only get worse! Did you see that viral video of a woman cooking eggs off the hot floor of her house in Telangana? Have you heard about the 12-year-old girl in Beed, who died of a heatstroke as she was collecting water? Over a 100 activists, economists and sociologists have written to the Prime Minister, asking him to address the drought in multiple states, and the government in Maharashtra has even sent Jaldoot Express, a train filled with 25 lakh litres of water to the drought-stricken Latur district. But, it is unwise to wait for the government alone to solve the issue. We should also be taking small steps to conserve water on a daily basis.

HOW YOU CAN HELP
You don’t have to spend lakhs on rainwater harvesting (although we do recommend doing it if you have the money); there are simple ways to save water at home.

  • Turn it off Do you really need the tap running while you brush your teeth for 20 minutes? The habit is wasting 15 litres of water every day! Turn the tap on only when you need it.
     
  • Fix leaks We bet that at this moment there is at least one tap that is leaking in your house. Faucets that leak, even at the rate of one drop every second, can waste up to 10,000 litres of water every year!
     
  • Use it carefully We’ve all (often by accident) had water overflow while we were busy talking on the phone or watching TV, but whether it’s for washing dishes or cleaning clothes, you can make do with much less water than you normally use.
     
  • Take quick showers Yes, we know how much you love your de-stressing, hot water bath at the end of the day, but your in-home spa-session is also wasting a lot of water. We recommend taking quick showers, or better yet, only using just one bucket of water to clean yourself up — in reality, half a bucket is more than enough for your daily bath.
     
  • Practice good gardening Water your plants in the early morning or late evening in order to avoid wasting water due to evaporation. Before watering your garden, stick your finger into the soil. If it is wet two inches below the surface, you don’t need to water it. Don’t water your garden unless it’s completely dry.
     
  • Make better choices When it comes to industrially breeding animals and even cooking with the meat that comes from them, more water is required. We recommend eating more vegetables and water-based fruits to get your fill of protein instead of too many non-vegetarian meals. Also, consider switching to drinking tea instead of drinking too much coffee, because growing coffee beans requires more water.

WHAT ABOUT CONTRIBUTIONS?
Several NGOs, trusts, organisations and charitable foundations are labouring hard to counter the issue. Look through their work; it might inspire you to lend a helping hand in order to solve the water crisis in rural India. Here are a few initiatives that we recommend getting started with.

Nice Bucket Challenge
For this challenge, participants use only one bucket of water to wash dishes, shower and make meals.
Find out more www.facebook.com/NiceBucketChallenge01

Plan India
This NGO provides food and sets up water purification systems in drought-affected regions.
Find out more www.planindia.org

Uber
You can also donate a cheque via Uber to World Vision India. The money from donations will help fund food kits, water tankers and financial aid packages.
Find out more www.worldvision.in/uber

NAAM Foundation
This foundation, started by actor Nana Patekar, is working to rehabilitate drought victims by building homes, adopting villages and providing aid.
Find out more naammh.org/how-to-donate

Chief Minister’s Relief Fund
You can also donate to this relief fund set up by Maharashtra’s Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.
Find out more cmrf.maharashtra.gov.in/CMRFCitizen/DonationOnlineForm.action

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