My heart goes out for Mumbaikars! They face the worst of crisis time and again, despite being in the midst of plenty. Mumbai is our industrial capital and India’s richest live there. People come to Mumbai from all parts of India with dreams in their eyes to strike it big. Not that all of those dreams come true – 40% live in the slums of Mumbai. Yet, many strike it big and dreams do get fulfilled. More importantly, everyone is on the move and working hard – rich or poor. It’s in their culture. But then, from blasts to water clogging, issues just keep testing them and trying to slow them down – the latest one being their unending month-long water crisis, which is hitting everyone in the city, rich or poor.
In the biggest and swankiest of buildings, there is hardly any water and people are now going to work very often without taking bath. Water comes from tankers and that too for a few hours only. The whole day, taps have no water. Tankers too are not easily available and there are offices where the lavatories haven’t had water for a week and are stinking! Overall, the situation is very bad. The lakes nearby from where water can be obtained are at near empty levels with hardly any water that can be taken out. And now, if the monsoon is delayed by even a week, the city will be facing its biggest challenge ever... Of course, the fact that now all society water tanks have high lead content thanks to the tankers – which themselves are high in lead content – doesn’t make things easier. With water coming to its lowest level around Mumbai, finding clean water has become near impossible. Needless to say, there will be a significant rise in health related problems cropping up soon.
As usual, the government sits and gapes and is always caught unawares. Every year during rains, water floods the streets – people die. Still, the condition of the roads doesn’t become better. There is no process of seeing to it that one year down the line, the same issues don’t crop up. That doesn’t happen. It’s the same with water. Millions of litres of water are wasted because of leaks and theft s. Rain water harvesting is not something that has ever been encouraged or has any public awareness. The situation looks quite helpless. People are somehow managing, but the worse could just be round the corner. In Australia, where drought is common in the biggest of cities, the water conservation drive is so huge. But such drives in India are hardly there.
In the middle of this huge water crisis, one after the other IPL matches were held in Mumbai. And the last two – it is even suspected – were shifted in a schemed manner. What should have left many Mumbaikars fuming – had they had the real knowledge – is that at a time when Mumbai is a parched desert, each IPL match is estimated to have consumed a whopping 2 lakh litres of water for ground preparation, maintenance and other services! But planning, doing things logically is something that we never did – especially around the IPL.
IPL is just one issue that happened – though looking at the current situation, it actually looks shocking. The key issue is, when would our governments learn urban development and big city management; and more specifically, crisis management? The entire situation of Mumbai really makes me wonder – will it finally take a Chief Minister to say, “Let people drink mineral water or Coke if they don’t have water,” to trigger off the much needed people’s movement? Because like the French Revolution, India desperately needs a people’s revolution to set things right. Else, soon, the theme of Shekhar Kapoor’s long pending project ‘Paani’ will turn into a reality and Mumbai and many other Indian cities will be hit by something never before seen in past.
- 06 May 2010 |