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  Life   More Features  25 Mar 2019  Conserving water

Conserving water

THE ASIAN AGE. | SEAN COLIN YOUNG
Published : Mar 25, 2019, 5:55 am IST
Updated : Mar 25, 2019, 5:57 am IST

Renowned environmentalist Rajendra Singh reveals a whole different side to environment sustainability and water conservation.

In India, the NITI Aayog has thought of a quantifiable list and has worked out an inter-state comparison  for SDG.
 In India, the NITI Aayog has thought of a quantifiable list and has worked out an inter-state comparison for SDG.

Environment conservation is a cause of concern. And conservation of water is a big challenge. Alas! Little has been done. While water is a global issue, conservation can take place only when locals come forward proactively to save this backbone of the planet, feel experts.

Dr. Rajendra Singh, water conservationist & environmentalist, recently at a conference rganised by Jagannath International Management School Vasant Kunj, said that sustainable development is not possible without restoration and conservation and that it must be free from displacement, destruction and disaster. “If we want to make India a global teacher again, we need to tackle global challenges with indigenous knowledge systems,” he explains.

 

He coined the two key words for sustainability-discharge and recharge, in a candid chat where he explained about water conservation work undertaken by him in the villages of Rajasthan.

Globally, Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs came into effect in 2016 with UN initiative, to be achieved by 2030. Known as the Global Goals, SDGs are meant to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all enjoy peace and prosperity. There are 17 Goals set by the UN build on the Millennium Development Goals, while including new areas such as climate change, economic inequality, innovation, sustainable consumption, peace and justice, among other priorities. Water conservation is an important aspect the scheme of things.

 

In India, the NITI Aayog has thought of a quantifiable list and has worked out an inter-state comparison for SDG. However, to consider SDG India Index as a composite measure for the whole nation can be misdirecting as every state/ union territory faces a separate problem.

Water conservation was originally not a part of the SDGs as Goal #6, which calls for clean water and sanitation and Goal #13, which calls for climate action. “This now creates a good atmosphere for water due to the discussion, dialogue and the training. But we need the water literacy movement”, he says and adds, “Without water literacy movement, you cannot reach the goal because one has unequal distribution of water and unequal management of water. If you can create a water literacy movement, the water can be used in a disciplined manner,” explains Singh.

 

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Goal #6.1 explicitly says that by year 2030, nations including India should “achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all”, and according to Goal #6.2, countries should also “achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.”

Singh, also known as the ‘waterman of India’, previously worked for the people who were displaced from Gopalpura as there was no water, food or livelihood. The issue in these areas was that water was being collected from the wells that led to the depletion of ground water. He, with the help of traditional methods of water conservation, established water bodies and till date there are more than 11,800 water bodies in 1200 villages. Rest is history.

 

He believes that the real need of the planet is to respect water. “If you are moving without having any love or affection for water, then you reach nowhere. You are creating scarcity (of water). You are creating a disaster”, he says. More than 40 countries are without water in the continents of Asia and Africa. He then says that if the water problems are resolved, then only can the matter of water literacy can proceed. He also suggested that there is a need to have skill development in efficient use of water resources.

“India is facing the worst water crisis in the history and the situation is expected to get a lot worse by 2030. Considering this grave situation, there is a dire need to explore solutions to mitigate growing water scarcity in India,” Rajneesh Chopra from VA Tech WABAG Limited, a leading pure-play water tech company involved in safe drinking water and waste water treatment infrastructure.

 

While the governments around the world have done their bit by signing the Paris agreement for climate change and now it is the turn of the citizens to work on the issue.

Singh comments, “They (the governments) have given their suggestions and solutions but it is not the solution for everywhere.” He says that the solutions would be found locally. “The SDGs are a global policy but we need the local solution and action. If you are making a change globally, you start locally. You start with the indigenous knowledge system, traditional wisdom”, he says.

On a concluding note he says, “If you do not give respect to nature, you are only doing for your benefit. If we can see a common cause, a common future and move on the path of a common future, we can reach the real SDGs.”

 

Tags: water conservation, niti aayog