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Updated: July 30, 2012 03:52 IST

Thirst in the land of malhaar

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The Hindu

THE AAMIR KHAN COLUMNThe spectre of drought this year should act as a wake-up call for all of us.

When man searches for signs of life in outer space, he looks for the existence of water. The presence of water on a planet indicates it is capable of supporting life. We recognise that life means water, and water means life.

India is considered a water adequate country. But every year, large parts of the country, including those that receive abundant rainfall, experience severe water scarcity. According to some estimates, a woman living in rural India, on an average, walks 1,400 km every year in order to access water. Even in urban areas, supply of municipal water for as little as a few minutes in a day is common.

Why does this happen? Where does all our water go, when we receive enough of it?

Traditionally, as Indians we knew how to conserve and harvest our water. From the eris and uranis (traditional tanks) of Tamil Nadu, to the johads of Rajasthan, people in both rural areas and cities worked to take care of their water needs. This collective work meant that tanks were kept clean, their walls repaired and their catchment areas kept clear of encroachments. As a result, we had a direct connection with water.

With the coming of the British, the collective ownership and use of water was replaced by a centralised ownership. Lakes and tanks were to be maintained by the government’s Public Works Department — not by the public — and people were taxed or otherwise forced to pay for the use of water. That is seen as a turning point by experts. Thousands of lakes and tanks silted up, were overgrown by weeds and fell into disuse. In urban areas, land occupied by waterbodies was put to other use. This trend has only accelerated after independence and vast quantities of land on which waterbodies existed have been reclaimed for use for construction of various kinds. Delhi, for example, at one time had 800 lakes. Less than 10 survive today. The situation is no different in other cities.

The flip side of our refusal to conserve water, and our endless hunger for the land on which our waterbodies existed, is flooding. Since the lakes, tanks and wells which acted as containers to hold our rainfall are now part of our concrete jungle, rainwater increasingly often floods and threatens our cities…in some cases submerging them as it happened on July 26, 2005 in Mumbai. Such stories can only increase.

Water crisis

The great metros of India, draw their water from lakes and rivers from the rural districts around them, with pipelines traversing hundreds of kilometres. This results in depriving people who live around these rivers of their own water. In what can only described as cruel mockery, the people of Shahpur who live on the banks of the Bhatsa that supplies 52 per cent of water to Mumbai city are themselves dependent on tankers for their own water needs! And then we complain about migration into cities.

The rural areas in our country, especially those not close to perennial rivers have tried to meet their water needs by sinking tube wells. There is competition among farmers to sink deeper tube wells as the water table goes lower and lower due to overexploitation of groundwater. In some villages in Andhra Pradesh, there are more tube wells than residents. In one village a farmer is known as “borewell Reddy” because he has sunk over 60 tube wells — all of which are now dry. As a result of this crazy sinking of tube wells, groundwater levels have been falling dramatically. Nearly a third of the regions of this country are now groundwater stressed and with large parts now coming under what is called a dark zone, where groundwater has fallen to dangerously low levels.

The way we pollute our water bodies is the other form of disrespect we show to this life source. We use our rivers as open drains both for municipal sewage as also for industrial effluents. Many of India’s rivers are now clinically dead in large stretches. This means that the dissolved oxygen levels in these rivers — which shows how much life the water is capable of sustaining — is zero. The Yamuna has officially been declared as dead for 800 kilometres — all the way from Delhi through Agra and Mathura to Etawah. The condition of the holy Ganga is no different, despite the billions of rupees spent on cleaning it.

The effect of industrial effluents is even more insidious. We use our rivers as drainage systems thus exposing our water to toxins including heavy metals like lead and mercury. River water is not only used to draw drinking water, but for agriculture too. Research conducted by Delhi-based NGO Toxics Link has shown that several vegetables have levels of lead far above permissible limits. Likewise, mercury contamination in fish is widespread. As they flow, the rivers also recharge groundwater in their basin areas, and hence the toxins in them pollute open wells and tube wells along their route.

The most dangerous form of this pollution is what is known as deep well injection, by which industries, in order to save expenditure on effluent treatment plants, inject pollutants deep into the earth thus polluting aquifers too.

Rainwater harvesting

We urgently need to stop polluting our water, and work towards harvesting it. Fortunately, in both rural areas and cities there are many examples of this being done successfully. Anna Hazare’s work in Ralegan Siddhi, the work of the Tarun Bharat Sangh in Rajasthan and hundreds of others all involve preventing rainwater run-off. None of this is rocket science nor is it new. Instead it relies largely on traditional wisdom. The key ingredient in community rainwater harvesting is creating and building communities. If a couple of rich farmers are allowed to sink deep tube wells and drain the watershed then rainwater harvesting cannot work. In villages like Hiwre Bazaar, the panchayats have banned the use of tube wells in agriculture. This along with intelligent rainwater harvesting has made drought prone Hiware Bazaar a rare village where there are over 50 agriculturists with small land holdings who are millionaires.

In cities too, where housing societies have got together to harvest their rainwater, they have drastically cut down their dependence on municipal water. In a housing society not 50 metres from where I live, rainwater harvesting has reduced the use of municipal water by 40 per cent. In Chennai, in 2003, an IAS officer, Santha Sheela Nair, backed by the then AIADMK government, had made rainwater harvesting compulsory and prevented the water crisis from spiralling out of control. All these examples tell us that the solutions are simple and at hand. All we need to do is stop dithering and start acting on them.

Our problem, above all, is complacency. Water appears infinite to us and at any rate all of us have access to at least some water as of now. But it won’t be around forever. We need to urgently recognise the danger we face. The spectre of drought facing us this year should act as a wake-up call for all of us Indians, in villages and in cities, to work towards respecting water, conserving it and harvesting it from today.

Jai Hind. Satyamev Jayate.

(Aamir Khan is an actor.)

More In: Columns | Opinion

I am appreciating Amir khan for doing this people welfare realityshow on burnig issue.
India got independence 65 years back ,but also Iam feeling shame to say this
I am living in a town (in andhra pradesh) in which we used to buy
water (one bucket water cost of 3 rupee).

from:  ajay
Posted on: Jul 25, 2012 at 20:19 IST

Government should come up with a policy that it will build a water resource for each locality and its up to that locality to keep it filled and used. Again this policy is no easy or does not come without conditions, the powerful people of the locality who are now exploiting it should be dealt with properly otherwise only they will survive, being the fittest :)

from:  Vijayaraghavan
Posted on: Jul 25, 2012 at 14:43 IST

We shouldn't forget about the beverages companies who are taking water
from the districts to make soft drinks and emptying the earth water
digging deep wells. Unfortunately the column writer is the brand ambassador of one of these companies.

from:  Monil
Posted on: Jul 25, 2012 at 13:55 IST

This is what we want to do for rainwater harvesting. this is not only the work of indian government or state government, or any leader, every indian citizen can participate for saving water & responsible for promotion of rain water harvesting.
thanks for amir & team for tremendous work & research for this
i salute them

from:  uday singh jaiswal
Posted on: Jul 25, 2012 at 10:55 IST

It is really good to make that issue to know all the people by this program. To solve the overexploitation of water everyone has to work but now a days every individual give more priority to secondary needs like study and career no one has aware about the primary needs like water and food. Nehru said that "children are act like future brighter" but now they are busy in study, their life is facing struggle in study so they are unable to involve in other activities. In every place of India students make a group and please work for the influencing of illiterate as well as literate people. I am also a student I promised that I will work for that. Be a good citizen of India.

from:  Shanthi
Posted on: Jul 25, 2012 at 10:13 IST

The root cause of most of our problems including Water is Politics and Politicians,
followed by The Media. Ignorance , some deliberate and some due to other
preoccupations leads to many of our, one would call, self inflicted crisis. The
underlying cause is of course GREED, uncontrolled Greed. Those who can afford
consume and acquire more than what they need. What can we do? Communicate,
Educate, persuade, convince - to start with OUR Political establishment at all levels
and get the Media to play a more constructive role. Every Legislative Assemply and
The Parliament must have a One Day session exclusively devoted to The CRISIS on
water. Do the same with the Bureaucracy, at all levels. Have a National WATER DAY.
Get the citizens involved, This is more important that The Anna Hazare movement.
This is a constructive movement for our survival.

from:  vram
Posted on: Jul 25, 2012 at 08:31 IST

hi Sir,

i would like to make out one and only one point if there is so scarcity of water then how the water in the can is available i feel this is a big scam going out in India.

Govt can stop the private can water and it can take up of its own to give a better facility to the citizens.


from:  somesh
Posted on: Jul 25, 2012 at 08:07 IST

I thank Amir Khan for the efforts taken by Him.He is a true Indian.We are proud of Him.Rain Harvesting in Chennai is effective .I saw the rivers in the UK ,US in the documentary shown.Why not the Tamil Nadu Government be strict so that the rivers like Adyar,Cooum & Buckingham canal become like Thames River in London.We can do it so that our next generation feel proud of Us.

from:  R Rajendran
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 22:10 IST

I am a water resources engineer working in the USA trying to manage
their water resources. If Aamir is reading this, he should be aware
that I am (as a lot of us here are) interested in using our learnings
from here back home. Just don't know where to start...
Am fully aware that these practices and awareness is there in India but am also aware that Agencies who are contracted to do environmental work (in Chennai for example) are doing a tardy job and the money is going "somewhere". I am not basking in the glory of $$ and complaining about my mother land, JUST DON'T KNOW WHERE TO START.
I hear from my colleagues all the time that Christian Missionaries spend the money to ship them there, and design features, just to provide clean water for suffering communities. Again, I (like a lot of us here) know the what's and how's... its the where's and when's that's the bottleneck.

from:  Siva Sangameswaran
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 19:24 IST

The classic tragedy of the commons. Already we have states fighting for
this resource in the south. Awareness, peer monitoring, locally enforced
laws are required to check this menace. One of the driest regions of
Africa has found underground aquifers which can meet their water demand
for decades. India should conserve its ground water for a similar "rainy

from:  Girish
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 17:18 IST

Just saying that making rainwater harvesting should be compulsory will not solve our problems. There are some points which i want to make.
1. Do not tinker with the villages especially with its natural composition. The work in the name of development in the villages in order to make villages on a par with the cities must be stopped. I am not against development but to make the villages advanced it should be furnished with the basic amenities like hospitals, schools not polluting industries and unnecessary cutting down through the people's land. In place of industries one should think of non polluting industries like hand made things and handicrafts, and obtaining of products from natural resource like gardening, poultry, bee keeping,pisciculture,Livestock farming.
The idea is simple keep villages and cities for different domains or realms. Let the villages remain villages. Don't rob it of its true nature. If villages are turned in shanghai then where you will go for vacation to find the peace which has been disappeared from cities.
2. Using these measures people will be self employed and they will not need to move to cities to find work. Thus, it will reduce pressure on cities and ground water level.
3. Yes, preserving rain water is the need of the hour. Actually it is not need of the hour, it will always remain a need.

from:  Ashutosh
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 15:50 IST

I read this whole article about water conservation and many things were already heard of. There might have been lots of worthy content, but I didn't feel anything new and noteworthy in this other than the fact that a person like Amir has again brought forward a very important thing about life. And that is over minor things like movie and entertainment that he was catering to, all these years.

Well pardon me if I sound rude. But I actually intend the opposite, because in view of your one statement, rest of the article seemed bland. And it was the point about the arrival of Britishers and how taking things into a centralized control threw things off balance.

Oh great! That is what is the problem with all that is happening in our country. Our civilization hung upon decentralized responsibilities. How come no one spoke about this amongst the culture and tradition we speak off?? Hmm I am running out of characters to type in here. But I have got the spark ignited in my mind. Thanks to Amir

from:  Vivek
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 12:08 IST

I appreciate amir for creating awareness about the water scarcity.please consider elecricity issue and solar plant usage even I want to make everybody shold know solar electricity

from:  Divya
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 10:42 IST

As rightly said, conservation of water is not a new phenomena to Indians, particularly the agriculturists. When I was a child, we used to collect the sediments in the tanks and bunds, which are rich with nutrients for the paddy crops, through bullock carts and dump them in our field. By doing so, we clean the water storage bodies while making our fields fertile. Now such things are not done in villages and the farmers depend on chemical fertilizers which are injurious to health. Due to Industrial growth in Kancheepuram district in Tamil Nadu, "a district of Eeries", all the Eries(tanks) had vanished and the rain water is wasted into the sea while Chennai is depending on Andhrapradesh for its drinking water. The Government, for its share, contruct government buildings only in this eries instead of protecting it. What is the remedy for such maladies?

from:  Balusamy.c
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 10:14 IST

As shown in the Satyamev Jayate program, many states in India are in
war with each other for water. Be it the Cauvery or Narmada the legal
tussle has been on for decades now with no solution in sight. But
reality check is needed for all those states who are in receiving end
from the tributary states. People's attention are promptly diverted
towards other state's attitude, whenever the water crisis reaches to a
boiling point. Never the state governments bring implementations on
desilting existing lakes and ponds, which are a lifesource and
chargers to waterbed. Almost all state governments remain blind to
the plundering of our forests, water resources and polluting water
storages. There is no check absolutely to the mindless installations
of tube wells across our country.

For example in Tamil Nadu, the river bed of Cauvery right from its
entry at the Hogenakkal water falls till its merging with Bay of
Bengal, is been recklessly plundered. So many governments have
changed, but the sand and water mafia have reigned in, leaving the
hapless farmers on the delta area and river banks along the Cauvery
river high and dry. Its the same with our reservoirs around Chennai
which are a lifeline for millions in Chennai city and suburbs.

An IAS officer came in the interview with Aamir and tom tom her
achievements as well praising Jayalalitha directly. Does she has any
idea about the sufferings of people in Chennai suburbs, where water
mafia have depleted the storage tables and lead to sea water entry
into those places? The river palar at many places have been encroached
and chemicals are let directly on its path. The rituals of burning and
immersing the dead on rivers should also end, considering the
unimaginable pollution it causes to water. Its time now or there wont
be a day far, when people will have armed themselves to protect the
water sources.

from:  Syed Kabeer Ahmed
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 09:26 IST

At a national level, Central Government need to take a lead and fully fund National water Mission which should focus on storing Rain Water in huge water bodies for use during lean Periods. This would benefit nation substantially as most areas can be converted into Multi crops and Crop Patters can be altered to suit changing needs. Along Delhi & neighbouring areas, entire Yamuna Banks should be Deepened and
converted into Water Storage, which should be treated, recycled and
reused for City. Similar practice be adopted for other Cities.

from:  Atma Gandhi
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 09:10 IST

I'll probably draw some flak for this , but what the hell . Amir hit the nail on the head when he wrote that our problems stem from complacency . I believe the only way to fix that is to enforce greater water taxes ( only in big cities at first , cuz let's face it - we'd have riots if we tried this out in villages ) and, since most of us are after all a carrot and stick people , reduce the difference in other taxes ( I vouch for income tax reduction ) . When people have to pay for anything , they tend to be more conservative . What say ?

from:  R. Coelho
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 08:52 IST

Aamir Khan's concern about making available water in adequate quantitiy and of high quality to everybody has to be taken seriously by everybody and more importantly our politicians at all levels of Government. As he says it is not very difficult to acheive. It needs committed community leaders (don't leave it to the politicians) and the younger generation in our schools and colleges.

I would suggest Aamir Khan and his team should form activists among our yungsters in schools and colleges and educate the wider public in water management. We have enough expertise in our country to acheive this.

I would love to see others supporting Aamir Khan in his very genuine endeavours for water harvesting and quality control becomes a one of the top priorites and becomes a reality.

Keep up the crusade Aamir.

from:  Ameen Mohamed
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 06:48 IST

Well it is true that across India the growth in metros and other towns have been so
aggressive with population bursting at seams, it is becoming difficult to control growth and
the is no time to devout for a planned growth. In smaller towns and villages what is left
cannot be maintained and there is no support for its sustenance, especially the tanks and
river beds. Most of the rivers carry so much of silt and filth that it is no more potable and can
be used for drinking leave alone for bathing and sometimes no water for irrigation. And all
the existing tanks have been filled with muck and silt over a period that it cannot hold water
anymore. Migration to larger cities for various reasons is growing in much larger proportions
that no one can stop or understand reasons to rectify the same. One of the main reason is
water for drinking or irrigation is not available. This country had by its natural formation of
land that many streams, natural canals, used to flow into rivers.

from:  Ramesh Kumar
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 05:43 IST

Aamir is doing a wonderful job putting a mirror to the face of society in various critical
issues.Water is a scarce resource and is becoming scarcier with increased urbanization
and industrialization in India.Yamuna which used to supply copious amount of water to
Delhi is now practically dead.Ganga accepted by Hindus as a sacred river is going the
same way thanks to the filth and effluence being dumped into her everyday without any
check. The governments and land developers form a nexus to unashamedly form concrete
jungles out of green belts and destroy vegetation along the waterways.Slothful,greedy and
corrupt politicians,pliant bureaucrats ,indifferent industrialists and land grabbing urban
developers have plotted the demise of waterways in India.Wonder what they will drink
when the rivers run dry throughout India!

from:  Dilip Mahanty
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 02:27 IST

government should make strict law for water harvesting otherwise no permission for construction of new house . In this way we cover a large part with quick access for harvesting also provide technical assistance for the same .For the old construction provide deadline and encourage through awareness and tax reduction.

from:  s khan
Posted on: Jul 24, 2012 at 00:03 IST

First of all, a very hearty congratulation to Aamir Khan for bringing up such a known but sidelined issue.Treatment of sewage and human dirt from Delhi should be done properly before disposing it off to Uttar Pradesh. It is very shameful of the authorised body who are responsible for cleansing of sewage water that it goes to the very religious and historic place Brindavan untreated properly.People take those water and use it for worship.
Immediate action should be taken to firstly change the route of contaminated water and punish those who are responsible for changing the route of water or for water treatment under any circumstances
Hoping my comment is not only published but stringent actions stated above to be taken as early as possible. We need people who can implement it as fast as possible.

from:  Divya Alok
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 20:34 IST

Untreated water and Sewage from Delhi or any other parts whatsoever towards Brindavan should be stopped immediately, as people use those water for puja .And the culprit behind this illegal activities who are directly responsible for treatment of sewage and river water should be booked and should be given strictest punishment for their negligency. No untreated waste or sewage route should be towards this holy place. Please take action as fast as possible for God's sake,for country's sake and for everybody's sake.I hope my ernest request gets published and necessary action should be tahen immediately.

from:  Divya Alok
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 20:33 IST

Aamir has nicely brought out the serious role water plays in our life and the need for saving it. I like to add my thoughts how to save water. With God’s grace we in India receive more than our share of water in the form of rain. However, 95% of it is lost to us through surface run off. Most of the rain falls on open fields where a subsurface hard pan prevents water from percolating down the soil profile. It is logical that if this hardpan is broken, water will move freely deep down in the field to build up the fast receding water table. Thus once the water is stored underground by raising the water table, it can be used for human and crop uses even during drought. This will help to free nation’s food supply which is currently monsoon dependent. Now, how to break up the hard pan open fields? As a part of land preparation prior to planting a crop, a ‘Chisel System’ can be effectively used to break up the hard pan to 24 or even 36 inches deep. Mr. Khan can be a national facilitator.

from:  C. Lakshmanan
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 19:59 IST

A very good article with detailed analysis. Also responsible for water scarcity in places like Punjab is the wide-spread shift to rice cultivation, from corn. Rice demands a lot more water than corn, a lot more in it's entire growing cycle, and is ill-suited to most parts of Punjab. And number two, the government should make it a priority to return land to conservation and increase the country's forest cover. Thank you Amir!

from:  vijay
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 19:14 IST

Dear amir,
You should've invited SMSes requesting our governments to make laws on rain water harvesting, recharging ground water and on polluting the surface waters.

from:  Anveshini
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 19:06 IST

It is a good article covering many aspects of the problem being faced now. The foremost concern is that about 25% to 30% of river water is allowed to flow into the ocean. Concerted efforts are needed to make full use of the river waters by all means of storing and avoiding flooding at the same time. Other solutions such as growing trees to avoid evaporation of water, recycling of used water, using sea water by desalinating, separating drinking water from water used for general purpose, etc. may be exploited by experts panel. Anyway, the seriousness of the problem has been brought to the forth for action by the authorities concerned.

from:  Thiru Thirumalai
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 18:58 IST

who do you think polluting the water bodies in our country. Some indian/multi national company making goods to ship to the know why they make it here, indians give better products to them with less cost.why does it cost less here?, i know the labour is cheap. The main reason is that government don't care about whether they treat the sewage or not.(treating them costlier, however american government won't allow , but indian goverment does) Who is gaining here?, the company owners who disregard the importance of water bodies and politicians who they've had greased. You know what, the fuuny thing is, the government will announce some schemes to clean this water with people's money and ultimately doing nothing to clean water. On seeing the whole equation, indians pay with our tax money so that some american have better product and help keep america an environmental friendly country. Kudos Indian politicians!
this might seem strange, but, think about it.

from:  sundar
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 18:46 IST

All our problems are largely due to our indifference to the open loot of our natural
resources such as land water sand green wealth in collision with our 'public
spirited netajis' holding power. There are a few notable exemptions like Jayalalitha,
Mody, Nitish Kumar and a few others who take genuine interest and take measures
for the welfare of the common man. Thanks to our CM of Tamil Nadu who made
rain water harvesting compulsory in every household and water scarcity reduced
to a great extent And credit goes to Mody for making Gujarat a role model for
others to emulate in providing basic amenities to citizens in every nook and corner
of the State. And credit goes to Nitish Kumar for transforming Bihar from a totally
corrupt State to another modern one. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the
citizen who should also play an active role in society instead of expecting
everything from the Govt. Thanks to the Hindu and Amir Khan for highlighting the
problems of the common man.

Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 18:41 IST

Rain Water Harvesting was at its peak during 2004 in Tamilnadu.

Each house in Tamilnadu were forced to have a Pit which stores water during rain.

Our place was quite a dry one with very less ground level water but after that years rainfall there was a dramatic improvement in Ground Level water and from then and till now we when ever ON the switch for the Bore Well our tank always gets full with good quality ground water!!

Thanks to the Govt.. !!

And after watching the last episode on this...we all felt so proud of us that we did something good for the nature at last :D

from:  Vishnu
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 18:31 IST

A thought provoking piece in all sense.Completely agreeing with Amir, let me add my point that it is utter complacency or ignorance that there is water crisis in a country like India.I have worked in the maldives and I found in remote islands how systematicaly poeple harvest rain water from the sparse rain occurs now and then and use them effectively for drinking .It is really an effective way.I am pretty sure taht something must be done on a war foot or else we will face the severe water woes in future.

from:  divakaran pallikunnil
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 17:59 IST

Good one !
Didnt take my bath...after watching this episode.. Save Water :P

Govt or SC should make mandatory ..rain water harvesting..not just some state govt. from now on..

from:  varanasi anup
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 17:40 IST

I think central and individual state governments should give subsidies for those who come up with rain water harvesting(rwh) to construct their own houses by allocating some space for it. Like govts can tie up with banks in providing loans with special low interest rates for those who show interest in RWH.

from:  anil kumar
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 17:37 IST

Most problems including aspects of potable water in India is
directly related to lack of scientific temper among the public. If
scientifically looked at there will be tremendous realization of
water related issues of the country. Perhaps most people are unaware
of the health dangers posed by bore well water. Unlike surface
water, most bore well tend to be laced with Arsenic, chlorides,
heavy metals like lead, hexavalent chromium, radon gas etc. It was
reported that carcinogenic, radioactive gas Radon has been found to
be present 100 times above the permissible limit in water samples
analyzed across the city of Bangalore and was reported in
newspapers on 23rd July 12. Radon has half-life of 3.8 days and most
people are not aware that it is quite harmful to drink fresh bore-
well water not stores for at least 4 days, a time by which all the
Radon gas from stored water escapes in to atmosphere. It very common
to observe children drinking directly from hand operated bore well

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 17:04 IST

Most problems including aspects of potable water in India is
directly related to lack of scientific temper among the public. If
scientifically looked at there will be tremendous realization of
water related issues of the country. Perhaps most people are unaware
of the health dangers posed by bore well water. Unlike surface
water, most bore well tend to be laced with Arsenic, chlorides,
heavy metals like lead, hexavalent chromium, radon gas etc. It was
reported that carcinogenic, radioactive gas Radon has been found to
be present 100 times above the permissible limit in water samples
analyzed across the city of Bangalore and was reported in
newspapers on 23rd July 12. Radon has half-life of 3.8 days and most
people are not aware that it is quite harmful to drink fresh bore-
well water not stores for at least 4 days, a time by which all the
Radon gas from stored water escapes in to atmosphere. It very common
to observe children drinking directly from hand operated bore wells
oblivious of the dangers of carcinogenic, radioactive gas that may
be present especially if the bore is from granite bed rock. Normally
water labs can analyze for most of the contaminants but since Radon
gas has only very short life of 3.8 days it may not represent by the
time the water is analyzed.

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 16:59 IST

Though Artha Shashtra written by Chanakhya (350 BC) is essentially a work on Statecraft and Strategies, he had also dealt with the importance of water for the living beings. In chapters 9 and 10, he had said that the people creating obstruction to flow of water to water bodies like lakes and dams should be fined.He had called for fixing responsibility on the villagers concerned to maintain the water bodies in good condition free from growth of bushes,weeds and shrubs by suggesting incentives to them by way of exemption from taxes for 2 to 5 years.He comes down heavily on people abusing common tanks and wells. These sound principles stressed from centuries ago are observed more in the breach.Years ago when I proceeded to take a dip in the sacred Ganges,my local host in Kasi advised me to take a quick dip and come ashore and not to sip the water as it was too polluted.When will wisdom dawn on us to respect water ? Perhaps when potable water is totally unavailable for us !

from:  G.Jagannathan
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 16:53 IST

The water problem is so acute because of the total lack of will power to take any harsh measures, like compulsory water harvesting mechanism, not to waste drinking water on such activity where recycled water can be used,sharing excess water with those who lacks water, etc. This article is aneye-opener for these is high time to save water.

from:  Vipin Bhatnagar
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 15:40 IST

This refers to the article "Thirst in the land of Malhar " I warmly appreciate The Hindu for its sterling efforts to raise the much-needed issues of social and political importance, and i hope this article,on one hand,will persuade and compel the government to take mandatory initiatives for proper water management,and will create social awareness about water among the citizens of India on the other. Another important issue is of discrimination on the ground of region,this article shows how much we are dependent on each other.If rural Indians are compelled to go to metropolitan cities to earn their livelihood ,the urban Indians,too,have to look water,the mother of all necessities, towards nowhere other than the rural parts of India.

Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 15:25 IST

Same as water harvesting, our cities and town folks can use their rooftops for harvesting edible crops, like common vegetables, such as tomatoes, brinjals, bhindis, green chilies, ginger and many such small crops that take less space, and less water, sometime in small earthen pots or buckets and nurture them. This way they can give up dependence on most of the vegetables that they can themselves grow on rooftops and spare the market with mad rush for the available quantities brought from far off places. The prices of vegetable will dramatically fall and if seen as to the cumulative land use for cultivation in city, it will far exceed the land used for cultivation in villages, in terms of area as acres of land for growing common garden greens.

from:  Zaheer
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 14:34 IST

Realy this is most important isuue "" WATER"" taken by satymev jayete team. Water is symbol of life. Crisis of water is problem of both rural as well as urban but more allocation of river water from rural region to metros in cost of villagers is totly unfair and kind of curruption.
One way we are facing the problem of drinking fresh water, draught and other way flood situation due to intence raining in some region of country. Both is related with each other and happen due to unwanted human activities & their greeds. Indrustrial effluents and sewage are reaching to the river or other water bodies without proper treatment and pollute them, this is impacting human life badly. Government investing huge amount of money of no result.
Team has pointed out very good way of solution of wter problem that is water harvesting. if we are realy want to better life please save and conserve the water. it must be start from individuals and then go on....

from:  Satish kumar Verma
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 14:00 IST

Thanks to Aamir for supporting the cause of ‘Replenishing the Rain Water’. Conserving ecosystem should be given the top priority and this can be achieved by elucidating the pragmatic use of contrasting rain water harvesting techniques in both urban and rural areas. And, this can be accomplished if the initiatives are taken by retired and working engineers from the water supply department in various State Governments. From our side, as responsible citizens of our community, we should try to avail of technical support for Rainwater Harvesting from the Government councils. The state governments should also pass an ordinance to all the private and public industries for nourishment of the water bodies within their manufacturing locations to strive for 'Positive Water Balance'.

from:  Abhi
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 13:43 IST

In my opinion,"water harvesting" should be made compulsory in our country only then people will be forced to do this otherwise till the time they are able to get a proper supply of water through "borewells" ,they won't even consider this option of saving the "most precious and valuable gift of nature".All of us know that water is a non-renewable resource.once lost it can't be regained and all of us know how scarce and important it is and in the times to come,it will become even more scarce but we are not ready to save it.We sit in our homes and see people in some part of our country struggling to get water.that's it.Why should we care? After all we are getting continuous supply of water through "borewells".We can use water lavishly.while cleaning utensils or washing cloths or washing our vehicles or bathing,we use so much water as if we are the only living being on this planet and are blessed with lifelong water supply.Shame on us!!

from:  himanshu khandelwal
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 13:43 IST

If only the goverment of india go deep into mr.amir's topic then it will surely take a very stren step and pass a bill to join all the rivers of india by which the whole india will benfit from it for this all the people of india should join together and support mr.amir's Satyamev jayate team in one voice i am sure that cental govt. will do it using force and no political party can come in front to object this we as people of india should come out for this.just as in last 2005 in tamilnadu when the govt.staff went on strick they had backup their strick owing the court order the same should be applied by the govt.of india for this then no state will object or any political party will come forward. if the central govt. rulled by congress say it is for the welfare of the people it is rulling then let them take up the issue seriously and act before any delay.

from:  ajerome
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 12:59 IST

Thanks to Aamir for supporting the cause of 'Replenishing the Rain Water'.Conserving ecosystem should be given the top priority and this can be achieved by elucidating the pragmatic use of contrasting rain water harvesting techniques in both urban and rural areas.And,this can be accomplished if the initiatives are taken by retired and working engineers from the water supply department in various State Governments.From our side,as responsible citizens of our community should try to avail of technical support for Rainwater Harvesting from the Government councils.The state governments should also pass a ordinance to all private and public industries for nourishment of the water bodies within their manufacturing locations to strike 'Positive Water Balance'.

from:  Abhilash
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 12:37 IST

Firstly, I must congratulate a true Indian,Amir Khan, who had explored and found the fact that the people of India had a collective wisdom and reverence to what was important in life and did what was required to preserve it. The modernity then crept in with the arrogance of 'we know better' and what we are left with is the residue of that arrogance. The irreverent use of the water ways and rivers brought more grief to the community. Money at all cost, is the prime mover of capitalism, and world over one can witness the outcome of it with the lose of old forests,depleted natural resources and pollution of all sorts. India and Indians need to re-establish the connection to the elements that sustain life and allow any development only when it does not wound those important things what nature bestowed on us! Become an activist and support life!

from:  Saratchandran
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 12:18 IST

What makes one expect that Aamir Khan is going to do everything.He has mainstreamed the issue which even our political parties and the organised religions dont even mention.A show for sure cant be expected to do more.So instead of generating cyclical arguments,we can at least clap for the ordinary water conservators felicitated at the episode.Rest we can take our own initiatives like them.Of course it requires to stop critisizing and start working!

from:  Abhishek kumar baranwal
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 12:05 IST

Traditional methods of water conservation are not good-enough at
current population levels. The waste disposal in water streams and
water bodies is going to rise with ever increasing population.Most
treatment technologies are used for treating industrial waste water
and are economically justified on such large scales only. In India, we
still lack these systems for domestic waste water treatment. Disposal
of domestic waste in water streams in still the most preferred and
economical way. This has to change.

A good example of RnD would be Dean Kamen's 'Slingshot' technology.The
technology have been used with "anything that looks wet", including
polluted river water, saline ocean water and raw sewage. The
researchers are trying to make it more economical and believe that
with economies of scale they'll be able to achieve it. Water is the
most abundant compound on earth and we just need more ways to extract
it.Technology can make the future 'WATER ABUNDANT' instead of WATER

from:  Abhijay
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 11:56 IST

What about the drilling and abuse of ground water by "aerated sugar water makers" - CocaCola, Pepsi and other bottled "drinking water" companies. Why is there no mention of that?

from:  Anil
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 11:29 IST

Dear Aamir, I really congratulate you, on your crusade against social problems.History has taught us that the changes can be bought into society if and only if we go with the political and financial leadership.It also taught us those who have confronted with powerfull leadership has shown the exit door.Your show doesnt blame a single person or a organisation or a Govt, it is well crafted to make the people think about the CHANGE and its benefits.All the activists should learn from this atitude and design a new strategy to fight against the problems.Making every person a activist will surely win over the problem.Few leaders alone on behalf of a group can win but it lasts for few days.Water is life, save it many states and regions in the states of india are fighting for water.

from:  Ravi Goud GYarala
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 10:47 IST

I saw 60 yrs back women carrying water pots over their head more than a mile...say around sunrise.

What has changed is Population and more emphasise towards cleanliness....demanding more water.

Rural has gained nothing in 60 year unless villages that became towns and cities...where people make noise...poor villagers still suffer

from:  ram
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 09:16 IST

Thanks dear brother Aamir. Please further pursue the issue with the
Politicians and try to sensitize our bureaucrats in properly
implementing the Water Harvesting Schemes. "RAIN WATER HARVESTING - The
need of the hour". Dear fellow citizens please think and act seriously
in this regard.

from:  Pradeep Kiran Jakka
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 08:48 IST

@Ashutosh Roy. I have seen people like you who criticize anything that others do. The thing is not about what he did in the past. He is making an attempt to create awareness among the public on some serious concerns in India and he is able to create an impact as well. If you are not able to do anything yourself for the society, just let the others do. Stop pretending like a saint.

from:  Murali
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 08:43 IST

Water? you mean Aquafina/Bislery/Bailley/Kinley....etc right?

Lets wait for the govt to manufacture the generic version, just like generic drugs...may be the price will go down once that happens

from:  Krishnan
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 08:25 IST

This was a well crafted show. Good job by Aamir Khan in presenting
it, however I have a major complaint. There was just a fleeting
mention of the usurpation of water resources (especially groundwater)
by some corporations, a major example of which is the Plachimada
community and the Coca Cola bottling plant. I know he means well but
Aamir Khan's sponsorship agreements with Coca Cola and the almost
complete non-mention of the Plachimada or related issues does play
into the hands of his critics.

from:  Vikram
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 06:23 IST

Ah yes, the ex-spokesman for Coca-Cola is now talking about water scarcity. Does he have any idea how Coca-Cola impacts water resources locally in place like Jaipur, Benares and Pallakad? Has he any idea how Coca-Cola has also polluted the water in Pallakad? One needs to practice what they preach, and this man does not. Quite outrageous, then, that Mr. Khan gets to pen this article.

from:  Ashutosh Roy
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 06:15 IST

All of this is very nice and excellent reality presented by Aamir
Khan. However, India and many other countries have been "talking"
about trying to solve the energy crisis. It will happen only if
corruption is brought to its feet and begging for mercy.
People need to wake up and stop this Capitalistic expansion and
corruption in India and focus on home grown products and support
national pride. Bharateeyulu have to utilize Engineer graduates and put their heads to use. Just erecting Engineering colleges and giving them jobs is not
sufficient. Engineers and many other professions have to stop being so
greedy for money. Don't take bribes but do your work to benefit
everyone. Especially in cases of public infrastrucutre, engineers need
to use t hei rknowledtge to preserve roads and railtracks.

Likeweise, if India likes to copy the USA in terms of fashion and
glamour, why not copy the US in terms of governance.

from:  Vijay Reddy
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 06:06 IST

Hats off to civil servants like Ms Leela Nair and Tamizh Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for making rain water harvest compulsory, the ground water in Chennai Metro is enriched and there is an ample supply even today, a decade later.

from:  Venkata Raman Aiyer
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 04:45 IST

Those who pollute the rivers in India whoever they may be and whatever their connections are they should be punished to the fullest extent of law.Government should be environmental friendly and take stern action against the culprits. Almost all the rivers including the holy rivers are polluted by people.In the Ganges carcasses and half burnt dead bodies are thrown contaminating the river. No one can throw any litter into any river or lakes in USA or Canada or any western countries. BP paid heavy fine to the US Government for polluting the Gulf of Mexico when their oil rig broke. The congress and Senate in the Us are very powerful and they do everything to protect America and her people. In India also those found polluting the water must be made to clean the filth from the river, lake or dams out of his own pocket.

from:  Nathan
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 03:49 IST

It's interesting you did not mention Gujarat, which is leading in rain water harvesting in the country. Wonder Why?

from:  Shantylal
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 02:15 IST

Aamir's article is really fruitful and provided immense knowledge on water harvesting. However my simply request to all state and Union governmnent to provide basic education to setup water harvesting machinery in every rural and Urban areas. It should be mandatory for all NGO's to come forward and act wisely to setp water harvesting machinery in maximum possible areas specially flood prone areas like Mumbai,Assam and other North east states(7 sister states) . Even I am working in softare industry and will discuss with our HR manager to setup such plant in nearby our office in Gurgaon which can be solely handled by my project team..

Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 01:23 IST

first of all, Thanks to whole Satyamev jayate team for bringing forward
this most critical issue of the century- 'WATER'.
Although India receives adequate amount of rainfall, the condition of
water supply systems in the country is too bad! the reason is obvious.
very inefficient management of water.
No doubt if every apartment decides to conserve water via rainwater
harvesting system (which is now becoming the important need of the
day),the issue can be very easily tackled! the only thing one has to do
is to come together and take a 'definite decision'. As the awareness
will spread, more and more people will be making conservative use of
also efficient irrigation systems in villages will help farmers getting
'water' for farming which is the very fundamental need they have for
their profession. Government should look after making efficient use of
rivers and ponds. Again, corruption holds people from doing this. One
should look after how Anna made revolution in ralegansiddhi!

from:  vivek patil
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 01:16 IST

All states Government should make rain water harvesting as mandatory.

from:  Shalini
Posted on: Jul 23, 2012 at 00:35 IST
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