ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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When There Is No Water

We continue to delude ourselves that we will survive the water crisis.


“Day Zero,” a day without water, is imminent. This is not some distant dystopian scenario. According to recent surveys, such a day is an eventuality in Cape Town, South Africa and a very real possibility facing at least one major city in India—Bengaluru. Cape Town has succeeded in postponing “Day Zero” from April to July this year by strict water conservation such as limiting per person water consumption to 50 litres per day. If the rains expected in May are insufficient, residents of Cape Town might have to line up at public standposts to collect water. No such constraints have been placed on the residents of Bengaluru yet or on other Indian cities facing a similar prospect. There lies the crucial difference between a realistic approach to the water crisis and our own self-deluding attitude towards a vital resource that is fast depleting due to a variety of factors, including profligate and unsustainable consumption.

The Cape Town crisis should be a wake-up call to India about the existing and future water emergency that many parts of the country do and will face. It should also remind us that the way a public resource is consumed exposes the essential inequity in our societies. As in Cape Town, only the poor in Indian cities are faced with a constant “Day Zero” as they spend hours every day waiting for water, paying for water, and finding ways to stretch the minimal quantity that they somehow get. For the rich, water flows out of taps, is pumped up to overhead tanks, and is available to use and waste. The price they pay is not an adequate deterrent to save. And the sense of entitlement that an inherently unequal society gives them ensures that their consciences are inured to any sense of guilt that they are over-consuming a precious resource.

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Updated On : 3rd Mar, 2018
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