Mumbai is facing a shortage of water with a third of its residents not having drinking water as per a recent report. This comes in heels with the news of massive water-logging across the city and flood-like situations. This is reminiscent of the Chennai Water Crisis in 2019 when a flood had hit the city in 2018 and in May 2019, the city declared a zero-water day – no water left in any of its reservoirs. As per statistics, in the coastal city with a medium size river flowing right through it (the famed Anna University is actually partially built on lands claimed from the river), 60% of its population relies on bottled water for drinking all year long. Was this always the case? History suggests no. But it has been so for about a decade now. This is not very shocking given that Mawsynram, the place with the highest recorded average rainfall on the planet also faces water shortage during summers!!!
Yemen – the poorest of Arab nations and a region marred by civil war and international interference for more than a decade now might also have the root of its civil war as water shortage. Let us understand that the Yemeni factions are the Houthis, the republicans – with both basically supporting their tribal interests – and a swinging group of Saudi-led forces. Records suggest that there existed blood feud between villages just because a village constructed a well very close to that of the other village. As per data, Yemen has the least water availability per capita on the planet, even inviting statements like – if water were to get exhausted on Earth, this process would begin in Yemen. This is odd, given the fact that Dubai is a sprawling metropolis situated in the same Saudi desert.
The situation is actually grim in many more places – Northern India – a land abundant with rivers and lakes – most of them, technically all of them polluted beyond potability. Go to Africa and the nations with rainforests and rivers are dry.
What is the cause then? We often hear of climate change. A reader would agree about the reality of climate change but would certainly not let go of the sheer amount of mismanagement involved in the handling of water resources. Governments all over the world have tried in their own way to clean water bodies – the money ending up in their coffers owing to balant corruption. In India, for instance, the Save Ganges Movement or ‘Ganga bachao abhiyaan’ in the vernacular has been a project spanning over three decades and costing lakhs of crores – the best part – to no result. NGOs and villagers have often revived water bodies across the planet showing the importance of public participation in government or local initiatives. But, the people aren’t really very concerned about this issue it seems. It might find itself in discussions during summers or in newspapers – but people refuse to consider it as a problem as grim as climate change. No one can imagine the change Chennai saw with themselves.