Around 100 million people are facing water crisis in India. According to NITI Aayog 2018 report, 21 major cities in India are heading towards groundwater extinction by 2020.

Recently Chennai, India’s sixth largest city was gripped in the foes of water scarcity. Throngs of people have to wait every day in line to get a bucket full of water. This is what it has come to.

With Niti Aayog’s warning on the forefront of everyone’s mind, Narendra Modi launched a new product “Piped Water for All by 2024” where he vowed to supply water to every rural area by 2024. He created ‘Ministry of Jal Shakti’ to oversee water management, going strong on his promise made in the election campaign. While this seems like a plotline for Mission Impossible, at least steps are being taken in the right direction.

Where did it all go wrong?

Ancient times witnessed traditional water saving methods like water harvesting, ground water refilling system, etc. which seems to have diminished over time. A huge boost in the population over the years has also diminished amount of water per person. People have become unaware and ignorant of the water crisis staring at us right in the face. Ineffective utilization of water management has also contributed towards the emerging water crisis.

Crisscrossing of sewage and water supply lines lead to a lot of water loss. Many causes reiterate the same problem—Is it too late?

What can be done?

Traditional methods may be forgotten but they are nevertheless very effective in getting the job done. One such method called Rainwater harvesting is gaining popularity due to the recent emphasis on water crisis. It is a sustainable renewable resource for storing water.

Another one, Katta is a temporary structure made by binding mud and loose stones available locally. It’s built across rivers and streams and slows down the flow of water in addition to storing a large amount (depending upon its height) during the dry months. Sand bores, madaks, bawdi, etc. are some other traditional methods that can be followed.

Many upcoming technologies could be the answer to solve this water crisis or minimize it to a manageable level. One of the most renowned products is WaterSeer which claims that its machine can pull moisture from the air, producing up to 11 gallons of clean drinking water per day in semi-arid conditions. The device blows wind into an underground chamber, which eventually condenses and becomes water. While there are many critics who are of the opinion that this invention is impossible in the name of science, many case studies are being conducted to prove otherwise.

Another is Mini Water Filtration System from Sawyer company. It provides 0.1 micron absolute filtration — removing 99.99999% of all bacteria, such as salmonella, cholera and E.coli, removing 99.9999% of all protozoa (such as giardia and cryptosporidium), and removing 100% of microplastics. Though it cannot be used on a large-scale basis, everyone can use it for their own daily consumption.

Startups are also rising to manage this cumbersome problem. In India, AMRIT (Arsenic and Metal Removal by Indian Technology), provides nanoparticle-based water technology that is making arsenic (metalloid) free water a reality in India. Kheyti, a Hyderabad based start-up provides some relief for farmers by developing a “Greenhouse-in-a-box” – an affordable, modular greenhouse equipped with full stack services that use 90 per cent less water, grows 7 times more food and gives farmers a steady dependable income. Waterwalla, Vassar Labs, Nextdrop, etc. are other social ventures which are fighting tooth and nail to minimize this crisis.

Conclusion

With water on the brink of running out, numerous other problems like widespread diseases, infections, food insecurity are starting to creep up. While the government is taking steps for avoiding this major catastrophe, the situation in Chennai speaks for itself. With population density giving no sign of diminishing, things are starting to get serious. At this point of time, a mix match of traditional and new technologies can bridge the gab between a hopeful future. Technologies can pave way to a sustainable future. We have dug a hole for ourselves and it remains to be seen if we’ll climb out or drown.­­­

Written by Sonal for The Connectere

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