Tulika Blogathon 2 - Water

Tulika’s blogathons are giving me lots of things to write about, more importantly, topics which I relate to. This week’s topic is their book ‘Water Stories from around the world’, launched just recently. Take a look at the slideshow about the book. The topic triggered so many things, I just had to write about it at once.

Warning! This is going to be one long post, with no photographs at all! these are a compilation of my thoughts at the moment, not all related to the book, but to water, in general, a topic which is very much at the forefront of all my thoughts these days…….

When we first came to Bombay in 1980, it was a wonder to see water flowing 24 hours a day, since we came from Delhi, where water cuts were a regular feature, and something we were used to. In no time at all, we were so used to the constant water supply that if the water did stop, all we did was rush to call the watchman, and ask what the problem was. Usually it turned out to be something connected to the pump, which was quickly rectified, and we would be back with our uninterrupted water supply. Those days, Mumbai monsoon meant 4 months of constant, pouring rain, but no holidays. In fact, we looked forward to wading through knee-deep water on our way to school. It also meant a visit to the Powai Lake when it overflowed – a beautiful sight etched on my mind forever – the excess water flowing in cascades, people from all corners of Bombay reveling in the sight, after all, there were no water parks in those days. The Powai lake overflowing was the nearest we came to a waterfall or a water park.

Now fast forward to twenty years down the line, when the rainfall has decreased considerably – yet the city floods at the slightest shower, and everything comes to a halt, including offices and educational institutions, something unimaginable for us! Powai lake no longer overflows, and when it does, there are few who visit it – there are so many water parks now where the same thrill can be had any time of the year, no matter what the season! As to the water supply, the less said the better! We are among the lucky ones who still receive water 24 hours a day. And even as I write that, I wonder how long this state of affairs will last! Most areas already see a water cut as well an electricity cut, and things only seem to be getting worse.

Just last week alone, some of the most eye-catching articles in the newspaper have been related to the acute water shortage faced by the city – The first topic that caught my attention was that a pipeline had burst in Bhiwandi. The pipeline in concern was an ancient one, at least 70 years old, laid by the British to supply water from the Tansa Lake to Mumbai. One of the oldest pipelines in the city, this also was one which supplied the most water to our island city. We were not directly affected by this leak, since we get water from another pipeline, but our concern increased when the same paper reported the next day that another leak had appeared in the same line after the first one had been repaired! And these are not isolated incidents. For the last few months, there have been so many reports of leaking pipelines that it sometimes seems a wonder that we receive any water at all! To add to this are the reports of water theft and illegal bore wells, one of which has actually resulted in the whole area getting flooded, and water supply being cut off for a week. The man responsible for this was arrested and fined a huge amount running into lakhs, and now feels sorry for his act, says the paper.


The water shortage has certainly made more people realize the importance of water conservation. Whether they do anything to conserve water, is another matter entirely! In my son’s school, for instance, they have been trying to make the kids more aware of the problem. Swimming classes, for example, have been seriously curtailed, thanks to the municipal corporation’s request to close down the pool! Of course, the school doesn’t have its own pool, so it was the gymkhana with whom they have an arrangement who did the needful, but the teachers explained to the kids that they would have no swimming classes since there was a shortage of water. My son came home bursting with the news and curious about why people were cutting down trees, when they knew that no trees meant no rain, which meant no water! I could only agree with him that the people who cut down trees were really foolish! Another change this year was Holi – a much awaited festival, which was celebrated in a dry manner, much to my happiness. They were originally planning only to play with flower petals, but gave in to the kids’ demands, and played with organic colours too, but stayed away from water. Even at the school sports day, they performed a short skit describing the water shortage, and means to combat it, and asked the kids and their parents to take an oath that they would try to conserve water at home.

Much as I appreciate these ideas and attempts to educate people, I can’t help feeling that these things just remain on the surface, and nothing much comes out of it. There are few people who actually go home and put them to use, even less who strongly feel the need to take active steps to make a point!

In such a situation, it was a pleasure to read a news item today in our local paper – the Chembur-Ghatkopar Plus, about a group of school kids who took steps to reduce the wastage of water in their school. All the kids did was to calculate the quantity of water being wasted everyday, just from leaking taps in their school, and how they managed to convince the school to change the taps. A small step indeed, but just read the article to see how much water was saved by this small action!

I had logged on to link to the article through my blog, when I noticed Tulika’s second edition of the blogathon, with water stories as the topic. It seemed to be such a godsend, that I immediately decided to sit and write this piece down!

This brings me to the book itself – ‘Water Stories from around the world’. The book comes at the correct time, for all over India, people are facing acute water shortage, and something needs to be done soon. Talking about it serves little purpose except sharing ideas and popularizing concepts, but what is needed is action – small things like shutting the taps and using less water wherever possible. How useful the book will be, is something that remains to be seen. But ‘stories about water, from all over the world’ sounds extremely interesting. As to the questions the book promises to answer, I especially look forward to the part relating to ‘Who owns water?” When states fight for water, kids really need to understand that water belongs to one and all, and also no one, in a way….. Ever since the book has been launched, I have been wondering about the stories… maybe the book will answer many of the questions my son asks, but which I am unable to answer satisfactorily. It is certainly a book I am looking forward to reading!

As I mentioned right at the beginning, this has been a really long post, and I hope it has been engaging enough for some of you to have come so far…… I have written as the thoughts came into my mind, not necessarily connected to the book or to the topics covered in it….I can go on forever, writing about the situation of our rivers, which I love, but hate to see the mess we are making of them, of the beautiful lakes in the place I call home, most of which are just stagnant pools today..... the topics which peeve me are endless, but this post has to have an end, so I choose to end it right now..... Maybe I should write another post about it sometime... Meanwhile, if you have come so far, please do leave your comments and tell me what you think….




P.S. Just saw this on the internet today.... since it is related to the topic at hand, I just thought it would be apt to feature it here....


The April issue of National Geographic is FREE (for 2 weeks) in honour of World Water day. Click on the link below to download your free copy.... its fantastic!!!!! You have to register for this, but it takes barely a minute, so its really worth it!!!
So, here is the link : http://www.natgeofreshwater.com/

Comments

  1. Though you warned me it is a long post I read the whole thing as I also teach children on saving water.
    But here in Dindigul getting water in tap itself is a luxury. Do you know the corporation water supply is only once a week. Rains were poor this year so it is again going to be tough for the people.

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  2. Wonderful post Anu. I remember I once closed a tap in our community market and an elderly gentleman said "thank you. Not too many people do it."

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  3. Anu as usual, very well thought out post
    I must confess i realised Tulika had come out with their second blog only after seeing your post title on my blog roll...
    I had to control myself not to read yours before i wrote mine...cos I too feel we have very similar thoughts and I would have been influenced by your writing!!

    I like your concluding para especially the way you have connected yr thoughts to the blogathon...

    Yes we have very few practical conservation tips....and we are not doing enough...most of it is superficial

    Miss your visuals though:))

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  4. I just read th Chembur Ghatkpar plus...
    amazing...

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  5. Very interesting compilation.

    Also I liked the changes you have made in your blog. It loads much faster.

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  6. @Chitra: I thank god every day for stull giving us water everyday inspite of the scarcity.... bombay generally doesnt have much of a problem because of lakes in catchment areas and a good distribution system,... problems are emerging now thanks to all the leaks and illegal activities, as well as the huge rise in population and the number of buildings coming up... also of course the massive tree felling around the forest area.... i keep telling samhith to appreciate the fact that we get water today.. for tomorrow we might be in the same situation as you all....

    @Mridula: you have hit the nail on the head! this is the problem everywhere!

    @ssstoryteller: we do have very similar thoughts and i was glad i had written down mine before you :) otherwise, i too would have written something similar to yours :)
    i was really moved seeing that article in the paper yesterday morning, and it was just great that the blogathon came yesterday.. a real godsend.....waiting to read the book...

    @Rajesh : thanks.... i didnt actually realise that it would load faster, but its great all the same....

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  7. good post
    we must save water

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  8. Anu, You always seem to write on the topics I so well connect to :).... Water.... ya coming from a place like Chennai and Manipur where water is a a rare commodity... I always try my best to conserve water... Now living in a place where water is bountiful, plentiful (all adjectives)... I still do the same... some find it funny but then water needs to be conserved on the entire globe :)

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  9. @Anu Great work, you prolific bloggess:) Your posts have been among the earliest for both blogathons now!

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  10. @sm :absolutely!! glad u liked it..

    @Shilpa : great to hear that u feel the same too...... i have experienced very little water scarcity (Thank God!!)but want to inculucate the saving habit in samhith, because god alone knows what it will be like, by the time he grows up!

    @Tulika : thanks a lot! the credit actually goes to u guys.. for the topics u have chosen, which gave me lots of things to write about...

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  11. Great post Anu and the links are extremely thought provoking. As you point out, the ideas still remain on the surface...

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  12. Hi,

    First time here, and I just read through your post. Very very interesting, I have to tell you. I am yet to check out the links that you have provided, need to go get the toddler and the infant up and send the toddler to school. I do intend getting back to it. and also the rest of your blog!

    Thanks for your kind comments on my blog :)

    Shankari lakshmi

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  13. Hi,
    I am first time see your blog really interesting.I like your blog very much.keep your work.please join and give your feedback about our blog parenting blog

    ReplyDelete

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