Sunday, June 21, 2015

Those precious drops!

This article of mine was published in a Saturday issue of The New Indian Express's Expresso section.

Those precious drops!

Dear Son,
“Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water ….” Never did I think till the other day that it had a message – that water is a precious commodity we can’t do without, that in the past many people managed by getting water from a well far away on a hill - a cumbersome job! A children’s panchayat discovered that their village well that had helped life go on smoothly for decades in the past, was now in bad shape and no longer people could depend on it due to which life had almost come to a standstill. The well was repaired and a few monsoons later, it was filled up with rain water! We, in cities and towns, have ready access to water (just turn on the tap!), so we take it for granted, forgetting that with an expanding human population, there’s now less water available to us and water will become scarcer day by day. 

Man is exploring moon today to see if there’s enough water for survival! Isn’t water another name for life? Humans, birds and animals drink it to live. Plants need it to make food for themselves and for the entire animal kingdom including us. It’s not only to survive, but water is something that we need for almost every other activity daily. Cooking, washing, cleaning, bathing, the list is long. Don’t we panic when water supply suddenly gets disrupted in our home? Outside home, farmers need it to grow crops, electricity is generated from water, even industries need it. And the fact is that drinkable water is less easily available than water for other uses! Of course the seas and oceans, the vast expanses of water, are there, but that is saline water and has to be processed to become potable water! Only when we know how vital water is, and that it’s not an everlasting resource, we begin to value it more and try to save it – conserve it.

At home, we can help in small ways that can give big results over time. Turn off the tap when we don’t need water during brushing teeth, fix the dripping taps and faucets, have bath with a bucketful of water instead of a shower (not that difficult during week-ends when you’re not in a hurry), reuse the water from the last wash of clothes for cleaning floors, let the water collect in a drum during last wash of vessels for gardening.

In urban areas, there’s too much of concrete, and rainwater running off (instead of seeping deep into the soil to serve as groundwater for tube-wells) flows down to gutters and is thus lost to us! So tanks can be dug in low-lying areas to collect rainwater that can be processed and purified for drinking. Rooftop rainwater can be allowed to flow through pipe to be led to a tank on the ground (rainwater harvesting), that can be purified for use.
While watering plants in your garden, just water the roots, not the leaves, so you save water there too. Small buckets in your balcony (and roof, if you have access there) and mugs on your window-sill can collect the rainwater which could be used in some way! Don’t let your washing machine run with less than full load, or if the option is there, run it on water-saving mode. Every drop of water counts, and if we literally believe in that, we’ll goad ourselves and others too to conserve water as much as is possible!

During a war, two from the army lay severely injured away from the battle-field. One held a very senior position, while the other was a young soldier. When offered water to drink, the senior man refused, saying the other needed it more because he had stronger chances to recover and fight for his nation - all because there was very little water to drink, not even enough for one!

I have more of me in my book Rays and Rains (e-book available at a much lower price).
Rays and Rains

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