Thursday, 21 January 2016


Weather anomalies, pollution, mindless exploitation… the problems are many but solutions are available.

On the climate front 2016 will be challenging. The year is predicted to have a big El Nino event, the third biggest on record. This warming of the Pacific Ocean waters sends ripples across the world. Though the impact on the Indian monsoon is not directly c-related yet there will be an effect. So, here is a wish-list for water and sanitation for 2016.
Prepared: We will be better prepared for the uncertain monsoon rainfall and make all efforts to harvest and store as much of it as is possible. In the flood-prone areas we will make sure that the plains will be allowed to absorb and manage the spate.
Weather prediction: With a higher density of weather stations and more investments in weather prediction modelling, we will enhance our capacity to become aware of weather anomalies much in advance and will communicate the needed information to farmers and urban residents to be better prepared for water shortages or excess.
Rivers, streams and lakes: We will speed up the process of cleaning up our rivers and surface water bodies.
More and more communities will join in voluntary action to firstly not pollute our rivers and lakes and secondly to spread awareness and clean up our water bodies. They will be sufficiently supported by the government and its institutions to truly make it a mass movement.
Groundwater: We will better understand groundwater at the sub-aquifer level. We will start putting in place systems to share aquifers rather than over-exploit them individually. We will recharge and enhance groundwater storage and draw only lesser than what goes into the aquifer.
We will take steps to ensure that drinking water in all our habitations will be free from fluoride, nitrate, iron, arsenic and any other pollutant which will affect our health.
In urban areas, we will make sure that waste-water and industrial pollution is handled and treated safely, so that they do not end up in the groundwater.
Sanitation: We will clean up our act with solid waste and ensure segregation, composting, recycling and reuse.
Landfills will gradually disappear and villages will not bear the burden of the cities’ detritus management.
Every household will have access to safe sanitation including a toilet. The waste generated from the toilets will be safely treated and reused so as not to pollute the environment or affect health.
Institutions: We will build river basin institutions to plan and manage our rivers so that they flow all the year round with clean water. We will also build the right institutions to manage surface water, groundwater, piped water and waste-water in our cities. These institutions will be appropriated equipped with the right skills and finances and will be accountable to people by being open and transparent in their work.
Access: Each and every individual in the land will have the right to safe water and sanitation for life and for livelihood.
Law: We will build a legal framework which will help manage waters of India as a common pool resource. Laws will be developed to protect our rivers, streams and lakes and groundwater.
Heritage: We will identify and clean up all our wonderful heritage structures around water including ponds, step-wells, wells and springs. We will also preserve our natural heritage as much as the man-made ones.
Forests: The forests and the hills are the mothers of our rivers. We will enhance and protect forests and prevent destruction of trees, wetlands, mangroves and glaciers.
Seas and oceans: They will not become a dump yard for our plastics, garbage and sewage. Our beaches will be clean and available for all to enjoy, wade in and swim.
In 2016 we will become a water-literate society which realises its responsibility to this precious resource and will demand accountability from our governments for its cleaning up. That will be water wisdom.

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