Enlightened self interest – engage with the problemMay 14, 2011
Enlightened self interest
It is an accepted paradigm that most cities in India will face a water shortage and that managing sanitation will be a huge challenge. Institutions are taking action albeit slowly. Large scale infrastructure projects are rolling out. Water lines, sewage lines and treatment plants are all coming up. However this will not be sufficient. In India it has to be all hands on board at least for some time till institutions mature and some semblance of stability is achieved in urban areas. Till that time it will be multiple-sourcing of water and sanitation services and therefore necessarily multi-management.
Apartments in the city already have to deal with getting a city connection, drilling and managing bore-wells, managing private water tankers and bottled water coming in and running their own sewage treatment plants. Owners associations and facility managers are learning on the ground how difficult and complex it is to run water utilities.
Individual home owners are now increasingly dependent on bore-wells and private tankers too. Many homes in the suburbs are not connected to the sewerage lines. These homes have to have their septic tanks and soak pits emptied often using vacuum trucks called ‘honey-suckers’ . Managing sewage too therefore comes in their domain.
Almost all hotels and restaurants buy water from private water tankers. Some of these run in the hundreds every day.
It is therefore important to engage with the problem, become aware and take action, the mantra of enlightened self interest.
Certain basic things to do are to understand the source of all water being consumed in the premise. If it is coming from a private water tanker what is the source of the water? Are there water softening or reverse osmosis plants and are they doing their job? Is the effluent treatment plant functioning well and is the output water of a quality that meets standards?
Is there rainwater harvesting done in the premise as per law? Is it being maintained well and is it functioning?
A retired Professor from the University of Agricultural Sciences has implemented rainwater harvesting for his home, maintains the storm water drain in front of his house, with the assistance of his wife they help water and maintain a beautiful park in the neighbourhood and he coordinates with the Resident Welfare Society to ensure even distribution of the city utility water to all homes in the neighbourhood.
A housewife in a posh multi-storied apartment newly built coordinates with the builder to understand all the water and sanitation facilities in the premise so that all residents are ensured adequate water supply.
A senior citizen has cleaned up and recharged his old open well which now provides water for the whole year while neighbouring homes buy water.
Active citizens are trying to group and sane several tanks around the city from encroachment, illegal dumping and misuse.
Citizenship is as much about responsibilities as it is about rights. An aware citizenry can make the difference between sustainable water and a good environment or shortages all around. Which side are you on?