15 May, 2021

A Drought Of Sense

It’s a chronicle of a calamity foretold, but fresh thinking is needed to avoid future tragedy

A Drought Of Sense

Though Prime Minister Vajpayee has shied away from declaring the drought of 2000 a national calamity, water experts agree the crisis is not only calamitous but also, to a great degree, man-made. Governments have repeatedly ignored warnings of a severe water scarcity and calls for better water harvesting and distribution. The scenario is so grim that in 10 years India could well face a situation where providing even potable water could be nationwide problem.

Says Dr R. Rajagopal, water sector expert at the World Bank: "Droughts are not unforeseen events-cattle don’t start dying in 10 days. The idea is to read warning signs correctly and be prepared. India is reasonably well-stocked in terms of foodgrains but that isn’t true of water. Also, people tend to use water as if it’s an unending source. A patent error...there are parts of the world where water is traded on the stockmarkets as a commodity. It’s that precious."

In fact, a World Bank study on the issue begins with a dire warning: "India faces an increasingly urgent situation;...

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