“When the well is dry, we learn the worth of water.”
Water has entered into the commercialization mode…scarcity has resulted in exploitation of the “Business of Water”…the casualty is nature. Like any business, I discovered that; it also, has the organized and unorganized sector. The organized sector, where about 500-600 water tankers, having capacity of 5000 liters are on move in the city, each on an average making 10-15 rounds of supply. Residential to commercial establishment, it requires an advance booking of 5-6 days and the price fluctuates from Rs 750 to Rs 1000 per tanker with demand…water tanker the visible visage of the city’s thirst, depicts the desperation and triggers the hope.
The players in the unorganized sector have the proximity to the market; I was flabbergasted at their modus operandi, which is strikingly different. They make a survey of pipe junctions and shortlist few based on criteria like safety to steal, risk of creating the leakage, transportation cost and so on, they have their own matrix to evaluate its viability. From buckets to barrels, the supply is made which ranges from Rs 10 a bucket to Rs 25 per barrel. Water is precious it fetches rich dividend for the unemployed people at one end, and inculcates uncanny disorderliness to employed people at the other end…what a paradox?
I thought the urban denizens are facing hard time, I happened to venture into the nearby villages and I could see what scarcity of water means. The village ponds and tanks in Nizamabad to Nalgonda, which are the watering holes for man and beast, are dry for the first time in 50 years. Malnourished women walk miles to half-dry wells and carry back pots of water. Lands, which used to be rippled with green food and cash crops, are lying fallow, the earth cracked, thirsty and parched. Cattle walk free on these barren grounds, looking for food where there is none. Imagine acres of once lush lands, now showcasing the pitiful plight of the small farmer.
The state of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka are skirmishing for their rights for water in the corridors of court… “War on Water” Obviously, the answer is not in the court; it is in large-scale shifting to alternative crops, river linkages, and of all better water management …in nutshell striking a balance with the nature.
Linguistic barriers, geography and politics now define water, which mercifully has no caste, creed or religion. When courts decide who gets what and when, politicians are forced to fight for their respective states, and people pressure governments to take a stand, and riparian might become the order of the day, and then all is lost.