The picture you see is that of the balconies of a new housing complex in Mumbai called Aquaria Grande. These flats are for the uber rich and you guessed right have all been sold! The price in the range of 40 million rupees! This post is not meant to be a grapes are sour kind of thing. People can spend their money; I only wished they did so with a conscience. When I see balconies of hundreds of flats turned into pools of clean water I cannot but remember some worrying and disturbing statistics the first one being the 5000 children dying everyday of often water related diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and hepatitis as millions do not have access to clean drinking water. Aquifers are being over pumped and water contaminated. There is a water crisis looming large and many states are facing severe drought conditions. Sadly we have a poor track record of management and conservation. In water starved Delhi rain water harvesting is practically non existent whereas it should be made mandatory keeping in view the construction overdrive. But every year abundant rain water is simply washed away. This has been aggravated by the obsession of cementing every nook and corner. Even trees are not spared and often wither away slowly. This was not the case some years back when we still had paved sidewalks that allowed the earth to breathe.

That water is a huge problem is a reality we cannot run away from. This is aggravated the poor management of this invaluable resource. It is time we all learnt to respect water. But that in unfortunately not the case. The easy availability of water through pipes and taps has made us forget the real issues. A friend told me once that if we still had to manually pump water and/or walk miles to access it, we would learn to respect its value. We simply take it for granted and raise a hue and cry when taps run dry. The rich simply get tankers at astronomical prices. The poor fight for it.

This picture was taken in Delhi. It shows what happens when the much awaited tanker comes in a slum area. It is nothing short of a battle royal that has tempers rising and often comes to insults and blows. Needless to say the meeker return with an empty bucket. The writing is on the wall. A recent magazine chose to entitle an article on water issues: Boiling point.  According to the article the rise in population and the depletion of ground water are the main reasons for the prevailing situation. An eminent activist hits the nail on its head when he states: There is no shortage of water in terms of rainfall. We, as a country, have failed to make use of it. But that is not all. Read on:

Policy paralysis and an appalling lack of management has turned burgeoning India into waterless, despairing India. Eight-year-old Poorni in Karnataka has decaying teeth and limbs that struggle to move due to dangerous fluoride in the groundwater. Sand contractors like Sanjay Singh Yadav, 40, make money in Bihar as the rivers dry up. Riots have broken out over borewell use, leading to death, imprisonment, deprivation and despair to families like that of Ramkumar Yadav, 60, in Chhattisgarh. Hindu Rao Hospital, one of Delhi's leading municipal hospitals, cancelled 40 surgeries in a week between June 16 and June 23 due to lack of running water. Politicians are accused of diverting scarce water to their constituencies in Maharashtra, leaving others to fend for themselves.

The above quote explains it all. One just has to read between the lines. Much of the situation we are facing is man made and we must bear the responsibility. We all need to respect water. Think about the liters of clean water we flush everyday in our homes. I can never forget the day when we were installing a western style toilet in our women centre. A bunch of kids were hanging around and watching the operation. When the plumber walked out having finished its installation the children approached the toilet and inspected it for quite some time, their face puzzled. Then one boy exclaimed: I know what it is, it is a small well!

We all need to ponder on these words. It is time to start respecting water before it is too late. And maybe a good step would be to raise our voices against balconies that double up as swimming pools!