On April 23, the FSL-India office was buzzing with anticipation and the chatter of over 15 participants of the YDP team gathered there to attend a Water Conservation Workshop to be conducted by Mr Sandeep, from Aikyam – a community of individuals promoting sustainable living, who was there to engage us in an afternoon of talking, learning, accepting some hard truths and dissolving some misconceptions.
‘Why don’t we all sit in a circle?’, he said. This helped us get comfortable, made sure everyone was involved, and eliminated the chance of just a one way exchange of information. After some small talk and introductions, Mr. Sandeep got straight to the point.
‘Is there really a water problem in Bangalore?’
We nodded, yes. Everywhere we look, that’s what we’re told.
Then came the question, ‘Do you think the water problem is really about water?’, and confident nods slowly turned into skeptical looks as members of the group exchanged nervous glances.
To help answer the first question, we spoke about the water cycle, in an attempt to find out how water reached under the ground if there wasn’t any water anywhere. The drawing we all learnt in primary school, the one about evaporation, transpiration and precipitation. It seemed simple enough to draw back then. And we all conveniently forgot one process. Condensation.
How much water could really be drawn from the air around us? Were the miniscule drops of dew condensed on leaves in the morning really the reason behind the origin of gushing rivers and flowing streams? That mysterious sylvatic phenomenon that draws water vapour from the air into the soil to recharge depleted ground water eluded us all. All of us were oblivious to its magnitude, and it soon became clear to us how nature worked to replace what it used.
Almost like a routine. What the rain clouds giveth, the hot sun taketh away.
The second question, however, was tricky. Reckless usage of stored and natural water, questionable laws controlling the release of effluents into natural water stores, organizations running the show behind miles and miles of red tape, careful negligence towards the usage of the city’s drainage system, a growing sense of detachment from our environment (lakes, in this case), and a lack of awareness among all of us; there was no single reason behind the absence of water in our city.
When we were asked why we thought there was a water problem in our city, we thought about river Cauvery and how she was running dry this summer – a fact of which not many people realize the significance. This was the first time in all of history that the Cauvery had run dry. A once brimming river that for thousands of years had been the heart of the sugarcane fields of Mandya, the paddy fields of Dakshin Kannada, and a major source of water for our neighbors in Tamil Nadu, was running dry.
Another point no one considered was why we were shunting water from over 100 kilometers away to support a city that had access to similar rainfall patterns and moreover, abundant natural lakes and constructed tanks.
These were all etiological reasons unheard of to some of us, but I think we could all agree that in the burning inferno that is our water crises, all of us are tinder.
In talking about the sources and downfalls – of both water and our actions, we accepted what seemed to have escaped our scrutiny so far – we are talking about conserving our water sources when we should be reviving them.
And how are we going to revive them?
Well, that starts with how much we know and how much we discover about the routes our water takes, the tribulations it undergoes, where it ends up and how.
This we can do with brotherly aid from communities like AIKYAM and FSL, full of people urging us to ask more questions, raise doubts and invite others to do the same.
There is a growing need for public awareness and learning from such platforms has an enormous ripple effect with the potential to reach several more ears.
In an effort to promote healthy, clean living and for those who couldn’t attend this workshop, FSL-India’s YDP-B will be hosting many events just like this one, so please do drop by! -Anushri