Mousumi Roy | Caravan Daily
CHENNAI is out of water, all 4 reservoirs are dry. More than 8.5 million live in greater Chennai, so it’s about the population of greater San Francisco. An India government think tank predicts that by 2030, 600 million Indians won’t have sufficient drinking water. It’s kind of amazing that they didn’t see this coming long ago and plan better. And even 2030 wouldn’t help right now, which is what is needed. Rain is the solution, but that’s not exactly a sure thing when you are in the middle of a historic drought. Little that can be done right now, except to keep on hauling water in from wherever they can.
Many more will follow, in part, because people consider water to be a gift from God. People of India consume lots of water. If the price of water was higher they would consume less and there would be money available to search for new sources of water. The problem is when people think a resource is free and so plentiful that it can never run out that you get situations where it does run out.
Clean water has a value. People should be paying what it costs to create and conserve or store fresh water. Regarding the price of water. Pricing will now have to include the risk of drought. The risk of drought is going up rapidly all over the world. I expect that India will need to invest in sea water desalination. That isn’t cheap but whatever it costs, those costs have to be passed on to the consumers.
The rain and drought situation in India is grim. Most of the Indian cities, towns and villages are reeling under severe water crisis. A tragedy is unfolding in Maharashtra and a money spinning racket for Tanker owners. Drought in more than forth of Maharashtra. Crores of rupees of the tax-payers money will be used for tankers that will cause incredible pollution in the rural areas….Creation of many lakes all over the country to catch and store rain water is a primary objective. Water balancing between various rivers, the so called “River Linking” Project is the second alternative. Once water is available in every village, the distribution to houses can be taken up as the third step.
Traditional systems perhaps might have to be tweeked a little according to the needs and changing times but there is so much to learn from those who came before us. Village Talab system, is one example. When pond of one village was overflowed, water was released for next village on slopes. Rainwater was harvested at home. In Junagadh, Ahmedabad, Cambay cities. I am not sure whether anyone in Tamil Nadu even knows it had a traditional water harvesting system.
Similarly, Odisha’s traditional ‘Kutta and Munda’ water harvesting system by an NGO some decades back but I doubt if any university in Odisha is working on it or the State government is trying to revive the dying wisdom. This is true for all other states, barring Karnataka which is trying to bring back the Kalyani water harvesting structures. Reviving traditional water bodies and harvesting systems has been talked for quite some time but no one seems interested.
The largest desalination plant in South Asia is at Chennai, one of two there. It produces 36.5 million cubic meters/year. That’s 9.6 billion US gallons. Israel gets the majority of its drinking water from desalination. It has the world’s largest plant, at Hadera, producing 127 cubic meters from salt water, plus it looks like it has larger plants as well. That 33.5 billion gallon. Chennai has a large desalination plant, and a smaller one. Their policies are insufficient in many ways. Like what is water used for, etc. Regulations on groundwater pumping, etc. I don’t know specifics, but do know that if a city this size runs out of the water, several people didn’t do their jobs.
Areas that are dry are becoming drier and those that are wet are getting more rain. But some of them have drier soil due to increased temperatures. The entire region from Syria to Iran has been suffering a drought that has been going on for about 15 years. At some point, somebody has to call a spade a spade and accept the fact that the drought is the new normal.
Seeding clouds can only bring as much rain as there is water in the atmosphere. Global climate change is, in turn, changing the distribution of where water is accumulating. At the least, we must improve our water distribution systems to mitigate the problem. Seeding is only a short term solution. Build nuclear and desalinate – Although there is no way nuclear can be added fast enough to by itself desalinate drinking water for 600 million by 2030. And India hasn’t signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.
What are the chances India uses geoengineering? The public: no tests, no international treaties, that will stop it. Geoengineering is cheap and not rocket science.
A recent study indicates that almost nowhere will suffer under geoengineering. More studies are needed. The most likely is distributing air pollution in the stratosphere. I doubt that India will concern itself with niceties of international cooperation. Or whichever country leads the way. That’s why there has been a campaign for more than a decade: test and make treaties. But we were busy.