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Better water management

PHOTO: S. SUBRAMANIUM

MIKE PANDEY

One good thing that has happened is the realisation worldwide that whether you are at the grassroots or at the top of the ladder, a worm or a king, the environment is common to all. That everyone has to be a part of the solution. At Copenhagen, we didn't reach a solution but that the meet happened establishes the fact that we have abused our environment and it has brought us to our knees, and it is time to look for a solution. The life of nearly seven billion people is at stake because of our activities.

Food and water security are the biggest issues. Our priorities in 2010 should be optimum water management which is directly connected to food supply. We should learn to treat water as a precious commodity and not something that just falls from the sky. To achieve this, we need an efficient regime and we need to involve science in it. Building dams have not served us any purpose, they just lie dry. We need to return to traditional methods of water harvesting. We need to have more pukhri, sarovar, bawli, etc.

The farmers need to be educated on why water should be saved. If they realise their actions would destroy it, they will never do it. Cheap water pumps and a huge subsidy on electricity are not the solutions. They are instead causing a huge depletion of the groundwater. We need to put a value to it. If it is free for all, it is bound to get abused. Also, the concept of piped water is not the right thing. Water should be used where it is. Technology should be used for better irrigation techniques like sprinklers, etc.

We also need to conserve rainwater. India is not a dry land. It gets over 4,000 billion cubic metres of rain water in three-four months. Only 12 per cent of it is used, the rest gests wasted. We should learn to save the flood water too. This time, we just got lucky, only 10-12 places faced drought conditions, in five years, it will be a national calamity. This directly affects our food supply. It is a shame that crops are being used to produce ethanol. Earlier, the world had a buffer stock of two years. Now that has come down to 90 days! People worldwide need to be educated right. Because I believe if you understand something, you begin to respect it. And if you respect it, you will protect it. What you protect is what you love.

Mike Pandey is a wildlife and environmental filmmakers.

As told to Sangeeta Barooah Pisharoty

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