There are no two opinions about it… we are a country that wastes water.
But it’s only water, something that we have plenty of, you say.
True… to an extent.
Life in the city makes us believe that water is something that is at hand at the twist of a tap.
It flows freely, can be hot or cold as desired, and is pretty cheap too by any standard.
After all, we are a nation that has some of the world’s mightiest rivers, and so why should we not take water as our birthright, for our use as and when and how we desire?
And that is how it is. We open the tap to full and furious as we brush our teeth, shower (the days of the balti baths are far behind), we let the water run as we wash our clothes or vessels, we wash entire compounds and let the water form pools outside the gate, till the road glistens with the evidence of our labours… Water is something that is a part of our life every day, all the time. Without it, we are lost.
Ah, now that’s a new thought indeed. Would we, so used to water, have to live without it?
Ask any village woman the story of her relationship with water. And she will show you the blisters on her feet. Ask the slum dweller and she might point to her children who fall sick because of continuously drinking contaminated water.
Ask any politician and he or she will tell you how water is a powerful tool in politics and how the politics of water can make or break governments.
Lives have been sacrificed over water, whether in rural skirmishes over whose field gets how much water, or over the building or not of a dam that gives to some even as it robs others.
Yet, we grow up in the city imagining that water is there for us as a matter of course.
It is not. So we are learning.
Across the globe, water is one commodity that is
becoming scarcer. Clean, potable, useable water at least.
Contamination, pollution, deforestation, excessive building and cementing of urban spaces that prevent ground water from collecting below the surface of the soil… And waste of course are some of the causes.
The issue is too big to be contained in this tiny column.
But what can be contained and shared is the need for us to look at water differently.
To stop the leaking tap, the bucketfuls of spillage to wash a few square metres of space, the running pipe that runs on while you slowly clean the car tyres off dirt or polish the bike's handlebars. The leaks, the drip drips, the faulty washers and broken pipes.
To recycle water, to think every drop of rain that comes is a precious gift that must not be allowed to run into the drain.
To understand that fish die without water, but so does everything else on earth, including us. Only we will take a bit longer.
Try going a day without running water, try living on two generous buckets a day per household… and you will know what the future can be like.
Unless we save water now!