By – Shruti Tripathi
On March 1, The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) announced this year’s official summer season onset in the country. As we gear ourselves for the upcoming summer and the worries that come along with it, water crisis tops the list, along with increasing climate change, which has depleted groundwater levels and further worsened the situation, leading to widespread droughts in several regions in the country.
Drought is a natural hazard that grips our country every year, having several economic, social, and environmental impacts. 33% of the country is chronically drought-affected while close to 68% of areas are drought-prone. Every year thousands of people suffer due to drought, farmers and the poor among those who get hit the hardest. To add to our woes, instances of severe droughts have only increased in the recent decades. On an average, droughts affect 50 million Indians every year. Apart from states like Rajasthan and Gujarat, metropolitan cities like Delhi and Chennai have made headlines due to an increase in the frequency of urban droughts.
Surprisingly, it’s not just the arid and semi-arid regions of the country that are affected. North eastern states and the Western Ghats, regions known to receive abundant rainfall every year, have also witnessed an increase in drought cases. Cherrapunji, a town in northeastern India, once known to be the wettest place on Earth, has faced a drought each winter for the past few years. Kerala, flooded devastatingly in 2018, but saw its wells run dry soon after. Hence, the variation in rainfall cannot be the only reason for this devastating scenario. Poor water management, lack of awareness among the public about water conservation, deforestation, improper implementation of government policies are also to be blamed. It is the need of the hour for us to work together and formulate ways to promote the sustainable use of water.
Adapting water-saving practices in our daily lives by restricting unnecessary water use, promoting rainwater harvesting in urban settings and water-saving techniques in the agriculture sector, and reforestation are some of the steps that we can take to tackle this crisis. Moreover, there is an urgent need to formulate better management plans to help drought-hit areas and increase awareness among people through education campaigns. It would be an understatement to say that water is crucial, hence we all must do our share and take responsible steps towards its conservation. We would love to have more people involved in our attempts to conserve water, directly or indirectly.
Apart from organizing drives and in-person campaigns, we also give people an opportunity to participate digitally by taking our online ‘Oath’ to preserve water, which is available on our website. You can access the link to the oath at environmentclub.org/paani-ki-baat/. We would greatly appreciate if you help spread the word, take the oath, and do your part in preserving and conserving water, the elixir of life, without which there is no planet, there are no people and no future.