I recently watched an episode of Bhoomi on Doordarshan National network. Bhoomi is a series on environment produced by Siddhartha Kak of Cinema Vision India and promoted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests. Siddhartha is better known for his long-running and immensely popular cultural magazine programme “Surabhi”. My kudos to the producers for a very nice work done here. One of the segments in this Bhoomi episode very validly raised the issue of Safe Drinking water. Indeed the scarcity of fresh-water is a global phenomenon and the matter is expected to worsen in the future with the ever increasing demand. In my own area the resources of water are the few ponds which in turn depend on the mercy of the Monsoon. And despite this growing scarcity very few people actually seem to understand the significance of replenishing the resources.

Today we boast of having appropriate technologies, including nuclear and related technologies then why aren't these used for proper management of fresh water resources. I keep on hearing about such technologies but none of them seem to have been actually applied till date. One particular approach, that the Bhoomi programme talked about, is the desalination of sea-water. Many countries including the Gulf nations have been using this increasingly to tap the oceans. Our own Bhabha Atomic Rreserach Centre (BARC) has been working on this since the early seventies and has perfected these indigenous technologies for providing fresh water from seawater in the water-scarce coastal areas and in salinity-affected inland areas. Government too feels elated while talking about it. But has any one ever seen any concrete projects implementing them.

BARC project personnel were very confident in telling that the technology is now very cheap, 4-5 paise per litre and that many states are considering using it.
What the heck! The country is already haing enough water scarcity, why not go ahead with these projects. Are these meant to be “show-cased” only. I wonder what is taking the State governments so long to implement these proven, indegenous and abobe-all, affordable technologies and that had been there since the last two decades. Are they waiting for the problem to become acute.

In view of the ensuing Local Assembly elections I think the communities setting agenda should put this point at the top, namely: What are the plans of the State government to provide Safe Drinking Water to all, be it for the agricultural, industrial or domestic use? It is hightime we decide and do not let the crores of rupees invested on such projects. Enough of technology showcases, the government must now bring the benefits of such efforts to common man instead of leaving them languish inside sarkari files and accolades.