Wa­ter Woes

India Today - - UPFRONT -

In Fe­bru­ary 2018, it was widely re­ported that Cape Town would be the first city in the world to “turn off its taps”. The city was fast ap­proach­ing what dis­as­ter man­age­ment of­fi­cials call “day zero”—when the city’s reser­voirs would be so far be­low ca­pac­ity that peo­ple would be forced to go to communal taps to get wa­ter. In the end, emer­gency mea­sures were suf­fi­cient to avoid calamity. At the time, in a list of 11 cities around the world most likely to run out of wa­ter, Bengaluru was listed in sec­ond place, be­hind Sao Paulo. No other In­dian city was on that list, though it was widely ac­knowl­edged that many of them were vul­ner­a­ble to acute wa­ter short­ages. In the event, it was Chennai that ran out of wa­ter first. Ac­cord­ing to a NITI Aayog re­port, sev­eral other ma­jor In­dian cities, in­clud­ing the cap­i­tal, will run out of ground­wa­ter next year—al­though there have been ques­tions on the ac­cu­racy and source of that statis­tic. Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has de­manded a Swachh Bharat-style mass move­ment to con­serve wa­ter. We must hope it’s still pos­si­ble to pull our­selves back from the brink.

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