Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Drought & The Scapegoat

Maharashtra is reeling under severe drought. Many water bodies have dried up. People are forced to migrate due to lack of water. Special water trains are being run to ensure supply to the interiors.  Even Section 144 had to be imposed in some parts to prevent water riots (The Hindu)

While the situation is severe, here are some other events which have happened in the interim.

Exhibit A: IPL Matches to be moved out of Maharashtra, declares High Court (Indian Express).

Exhibit B: Tanker Water used to fill Ramkund pond in Nashik to enable pilgrims to have a holy dip. (Indian Express Article)

Why were IPL matches ordered to be shifted. Because the Courts "cannot act as a mute spectator and ignore the plight of the people". Because holding IPL matches consumes a lot of water which the state can ill afford in these drought like conditions. Interestingly, no comment was made whether grounds should be maintained during this time, as if water is not consumed on other days. In fact, grounds are not watered on the day of the game. So in a country which gives high value on tokenism, the ban on the matches was immediately hailed by many. Especially give that it was IPL, considered the source of all evil in the world according to some. We have in the meantime trivialized the entire drought situation by putting it up against a few IPL games.

On the other hand, water was brought in by tankers to fill the dried up Ramkund in Nashik so that pilgrims could have a holy dip. And there is no outrage at all for this waste. Or maybe given that it is a matter of religious beliefs, no one is raising any question. This is certainly more wasteful than the IPL which would have brought in some revenue to the state. Also given that the water was brought in from elsewhere, not sure how holy this dip would have been for those undertaking it.

Amidst all this outrage, where many sports pages have turned into editorial columns, the governments have managed to get a fig leaf to hide behind in this crisis. Even in the 21st century, it is a shame that we are still so heavily reliant on monsoons. Two successive below-par monsoons and we have severe drought. It does raise several questions.

  • Why can't our irrigation systems be improved?
  • What happened to the implementation of the river linking project?
  • Why can't we use sea water treatment like the middle eastern countries? Really shameful that coastal cities have to depend on monsoons for adequate water supply?
  • Why isn't rain-water harvesting being carried out at a bigger scale?
  • Is some of the drought artificial, created due to the nexus between politicians & tanker mafia
Till we find these answers we will continue to be at the mercy of the rain Gods and rely on the power of prayer, while finding convenient scapegoats (like IPL matches) to sacrifice.

A Game of Cricket underway in a dried up lake in Latur 

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