Increasing Urban Water Stress: Hiding Behind Climate Change?
Managing Trustee, Megh Pyne Abhiyan
Biggest concerns and challenges for South Asian countries’ economy, polity and society are falling or stagnant agricultural growth, rural-urban migration, swift industrialization process and unplanned and unregulated urbanization. The direct impact of these changes is the escalating demand for water for non-agricultural uses such as for industrial and urban water needs. As a consequence, millions of gallons of good quality water is transferred from rural to urban areas every day. Does the problem stop here? The answer is no. Raising urban and industrial water needs also contribute to enormous pollution load: The South Asian hydrocracy at best converse on fresh-water management (by which it is meant water supply augmentation measures) but never ever discuss issues concerning waste-water or used-water management practices. Indeed, in most of the developed countries waste-water or used water management strategies is considered an integral part of the regular water management strategy. As a result of neglect of such an important issue, namely urban sewage and water pollution in South Asia have become the most important concern, which is threatening the very fundamentals of ecology and environment. The waste-water generated through urban sewage and industrial effluent has been very conveniently discharged into the sea, freshwater bodies, low-lying lands /fields, rivers and streams. The problems in the years to come are going to be stiffer and frightening. Undeniably, therefore, the sustainability of present industrial development and high economic growth very much depends upon how the environmental and ecological concerns are addressed by the South Asian polity and civil society, in particular India. The other most critical issue is the management of urban floods: Every major/mega city in India suffers from serious and devastating floods quite periodically but the very next year suffers from serious water scarcity! When disastrous floods and droughts occur there is a tendency to hide behind climate change without making adequate efforts to save flood water in thousands of lakes in and around the city!! The anxious question that perturbs one is, whether the Indian cities have any definite plan of action, not only to manage flood but also to link flood and drought in order to mitigate the increasing urban water stress?