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Elixir of existence
Reminiscence

Elixir of existence

Durgadas P.V.

One of my cousins living in Chennai has not gone to office for the past fifty days. Not that he has been shown a pink slip. Rather his employer wants him to be at home to work from there. At the work place, there is acute scarcity of water.

The aerial photos of Chembarambakkom Lake gave a pathetic sight. Water specials have started running to Chennai from Jolarpettai junction. The situation has been bad in many other towns in Tamil Nadu and a few pockets in neighboring Kerala  and many other States too.

At the same time the streets of Mumbai are under water. The local trains are running like the carriages in water theme parks. The commuters are contemplating buying surfing boards to get into the local trains braving the waves.

The story of water (mis)management repeats year after year. Even the most literate state of Kerala which witnessed the worst floods of recent times in 2018, has not been able make any assessment of rise in water level in different points on the banks of the river/s if the shutters of the dams are opened for different time periods. The administration is only eager to introduce an additional tax/ cess to collect more funds for the exchequer.

During my younger days, my grandmother had told me the story of the clever crow which could raise the level of water in the earthen pot by putting pebbles into it.

Later when I grew up, the management gurus told me version two of the same story. They encouraged the entrepreneurs to be innovative and competitive to succeed in business. I have heard motivational speeches depicting the crow story version two to be street smart. It took away a couple of plastic straws from the nearby tender coconut stall and sucked the water saving time and labour!

The latest in the story (version three) which I saw published in a daily was a picture of the same old crow having put pebbles to the brim of the pot, but falling down dead with no water coming up. But the pot was almost breaking with the weight of the pebbles....

The last one showed the real life situation of today. The reasons are also very clear. In the first instance, the crow had used up only the water required for it to quench the thirst. The pebbles had retained the water between them like Mother Earth. But the so called "ingenious" water management in the version two, took out the water till the last drop from the pot, leaving nothing for posterity. The innumerable borewells are nothing but tubes sucking water from the bottom of the earth, and ultimately made the crow die of thirst in version three.

The use of plastic, dumping waste into the rivers, lack of planning for the use and maintenance of our old temple ponds, wells, lakes, water bodies, etc. have cost us very heavily today. The present situation of water resources of yesteryears is like the pot of version three.

Once I happened to listen to a lecture by one of India's famous scientists, Dr. Anil Kakodkar on the importance of water conservation and management. He was of the opinion, that wars will be fought for water between territories or countries if proper planning an execution of long term water management programmes are not put in place by the governments.

Who is listening.....? Who sees beyond the next election....?

Some minister with no French connection, may even declare tomorrow, " if they don't have water, let them drink beer..!" aiming at additional tax revenue.....!