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“Rainwater harvesting can be a key solution to meet the dire water crisis knocking at our doorstep”

It is scary to wake up to news that talks about your city heading towards a Day Zero. Predictions and analysis of the water crisis in Bangalore paints a very grim picture. A recent study by the Down to Earth magazine published by the CSE shows ‘at least 200 cities across the world are facing a severe water crisis, among them Bengaluru, are fast moving towards a situation where taps start running dry.’

The water crisis is not a recent problem, however, right now, India is facing a situation that is remarkably worse than our generations ever faced. As per a report by BBC, Bengaluru is positioned second after Brazil’s Sao Paulo among the 11 global cities that are likely to run out of drinking water.

Though the mismanaged use of water for domestic and agriculture are few key reasons for the disaster, there are other evident agents that lead to the water crisis in India. For instance, many Soft drink brands have come to the light for excessive water usage in southern parts of India. Main Waterways like Cauvery which are a great source of both potable water and irrigation water are excessively exploited by the soft drinking manufactures with minimal sustainable methods at pre-production and post-production stages. Some of the barriers being the absence of sensitization and regulations in the initial stages due to lack of a futuristic vision and sight. After years of mismanagement, various civic bodies are coming together to protest against the capitalism but the situation is not improving enough.

Bengaluru that was once known for its beautiful lakes created by Kempegowda, the Wodeyars of Mysore and then the British, is now witnessing dried up wetlands that are undergoing a slow death. The ever growing urbanization, rapid industrialization is putting natural resources under stress. If no proper implementation of water resources is implied soon, the state will face an acute crisis within the next two decades. The Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) classification of water samples in lakes and tanks across Bengaluru for the period between April 2016 and March 2017 presents a gloomy picture. As suggested by their report, none of the lakes were found to have a ‘satisfactory’ water quality index. Out of the 51 lakes sampled in and around Bengaluru, 11 did not have water. Some of the damage can be blamed at the climate change, not entirely though as over-use and mismanagement of natural resources is now a humankind’s forte. As per a report by Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), the city has 300,000 household borewells and 9,000 public that contribute to depletion of groundwater tables to unprecedented lows. Due to the changing rainfall pattern, we can expect that the water crisis will go worse in most parts of the country.

It wouldn’t be right to say that there is a complete absence of rains though. The incessant rainfall in the city made 2017 the wettest year for Bangalore, as it witnessed annual rainfall of 1,615 mm. Even in a situation of dire need, the city unfortunately failed to trigger conservation practices. The focus now needs to be driven towards well-proven solutions like effective urban water management planning, and rainwater harvesting is the pivotal one. What is preventing us from harvesting the rainwater to meet our demands?

In spite having several policies initiated by the govt in the silicon city, RWH is not up to the mark. In theory, RWH looks a beautiful thing but very less implementation is seen on a national level and state level. Back in 2009, the Karnataka government made it mandatory for all buildings on 30×40-foot sites and above to harvest rainwater, but data portrays that the compliance rate is only 51.7%. Shockingly, residents prefer paying a penalty every month rather than investing in Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) as it is a cheaper option. Of the 1,39,049 properties that are supposed to harvest rainwater as per the rule, just over 72,000 properties are complying. Who is to be accused is not a matter of enigma here. While the state government claims it will be spending Rs 5,500 crore by 2023 to increase water availability for Bangalore to 2,175 million liters per day (MLD) from the current 1,391 MLD, the future looks scary as a sense of awareness is missing at the grassroots level. According to the KSNDMC report 2016, The Cauvery river basin responsible for providing 50% of drinking water in the city, has already gone dry. That being said, it’s safe to conclude that effective implementation of rainwater harvesting can be a key solution to meet the dire crisis. A lot of it lies in the government hands, but corporate consciousness and individual empathy will make a huge difference in the conservation. With government mandating the socio good paradigm, the corporates now equally have the onus to implement low water usage methods and social welfare policies, aimed at water management and harvesting rainwater. Few initiatives that need immediate attention are:

1. Government’s contribution: Government along with civic bodies can set water quality standards, issue water-use permits and ensure the reliable supplies for the communities they serve. It can also control consumption rates and take responsibilities to prepare well for effective water use and conservation.

2. Awareness campaigns: More awareness campaigns such as the “Jal Jeevan Hai” started by NABARD in 2017 along with the participation of NGOs, Volunteers, Communities will also help in dealing with the water stress at village, city and school level.

3. Monitoring and aid: Merely implementing a rule or starting a campaign is not enough. Monitoring and strict action against violation of the rules are equally important to deal with the crisis.

4. Participation of Corporate and CSR: Corporate entities must actively participate and invest in saving water. Treatment of water and mechanisms to reuse water should be taken care by the corporates a CSR initiative, in addition they can also look at building RWH infrastructures as a CSR initiative in India.

Several organizations are working tirelessly to conserve water and make a sustainable attempt to meet the crisis. Fiinovation, a research-based organization along with Uflex, a packaging company is working on rolling out rainwater harvesting infrastructure and tree plantation intervention at 2 villages of Gautam Buddha Nagar District of Uttar Pradesh and 1 village in Malanpur at Madhya Pradesh. Such endeavors towards creating sustainable ecosystem will benefit the society. In addition, the social consciousness has to be practiced at all levels. People have to come forward and realize their responsibility towards the water. As the World water day is coming, make sure we take proactive measures to ensure management of the water. #SaveWaterSaveLife .

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