Bhopal: “Soch Aur Samwad” – A think tank spearheaded by a group of leading ladies in the State capital – organised a brainstroming session at Bhojpur Club here on Friday, 7 June 2019, to address the issue of water. The marathon discussion revolved around the theme “Boond Boond Jindagi, Jeevan Amrit” (life in every drop, water- the elixir of life)
Ajit Sonakia, a 1979 batch Indian Forest Service Officer, who has retired as Principal Chief Conservator of Forest M.P. and is a former Director Kanha, Bandhavgarh, Madhav and Sanjay National Parks delivered the keynote address. He spoke about Climate Change and said that water is an integral part when we talk of the crisis of global warming.
Sonakia laid special stress on the need to plant trees and underscored the importance of proper and controlled use of water by one and all. He was particularly critial of those who live in posh government bungalows and use water recklessly to wash their vehicles and pavements. This is in sharp contrast when it comes to the common people who are being denied even the basic supply of water.
At the outset, Ms. Arti Sharma, the progenitor of “Soch Aur Samwad”, a not for profit social organisation devoted to addressing and suggesting solutions for issues confronting the people, had set the tone for discussion.
Water is a natural resource. We cannot manufacture but only conserve it. – Arti Sharma, founder of Soch Aur Samwad
Ms. Sharma said water is an essential requirement. It is not possible to think of the food we eat without water. Our population is growing at a rapid pace and we are unrelently using water and at times, instead of saving, wasting it, she observed.
Continuing, she said, it is wrong on our part to think that it is the government’s responsbility to find ways and means to conserve water. It is actually our responsibility – no matter which sector we belong to, whether one is running an industry or one is a housemaker, it is everyone’s duty to save water.
Ms. Sharma spoke about the importance of water bodies and rivers and drew attention to the river valley civilisations of ancient times. All big cities over several millennia were built along major rivers, she said undescoring the importance of water. It is uinfortunate that we are wasting this precious resource.
Ms. Sharma cited the example of the drought affected region of California in the US, where she had the opportunity of staying for some time. She especially noted that in California, two types of piped water is being supplied to the citizens – one is potable water that’s fit for drinking and other other is untreated water thats used for watering the plants. Even the supply of non-potable water is rationed and days are fixed when one can water the plants there, she informed the audience.
Ms. Sharma focused attention on the use of a basic technology to save water and said special taps are being used in developed countries to ensure wate flows with such force that a very little volume can serve the purpose and this helps in saving water. Utilisation of water in the proper way is vey important, she emphasised.
Well-known conservationist, Meera Das said that more than two thousand years ago, the neighbouring Vidisha district had taken the lead in water harvesting. There are Buddhist archeological sites in this area depicting the progress that made in building reservoirs and structures to conserve water in ancient times, she said and gave the example of the fifth Century Ganga Devi idol associated with the Gupta period. This reflects their sensibilities with regard to the need to conserve water.
Professor at Indian Institute of Forest Management (IIFM) Dr. Madhu Verma threw light on special reservoirs that have been built to collect natural water from the catchment areas and supply it (without any treatment) as drinking water to the residents of New York City.
Dr Verma cited the example of China to underscore the importance it gives to preservation and conservation of biodiversity. She said that development projects are shelved if they threaten the biodoversity. She also focused attention towards some communities of Meghalaya State in India that do not interfere with the ecosystem.
Senior journalist and environmentalist, Abhilash Khandekar laid stress on the need for everybody to save water. He said that experts and a large section of the media has been raising the alarm about the water crisis and all connected environmental issues for a long time. It is important for people to realise that if they fail to act now, the future of humankind would be gravely threatened.
Lalit Shastri, Editor-in-Chief Newsroom24x7 and founder president of CREW, an NGO devoted to conservation of environment and Wildlife, who also addressed the gathering said it is important to have an understanding of the different factors responsible for depletion of forest cover, especially in the catchment of rivers and water bodies. NGOs working for environment should lobby for the cause of future generations at the decision, policy and law-making levels, he said and went on to underscore that such organisations should be ready to speak up what may be “politically incorrect” but is necessary for saving the forests, biodiversity and the future of not only humankind but all species and forms of life.
Vice Chief of Army Staff Lt General (Retired) Milan Naidu, spoke about the need to treat grey water for serving recreational and sporting purposes. He gave the example of the golf course at the Local Army area in Bhopal in this regard.
There was a special presentation on the “green building” constructed by the NGO – Eklavya – with locally available material and scrap procured from the Railways. This building has been designed in such a manner that it reduces the temeperature inside by 4 to 6 degrees. Its highwater mark is the especially built water harvesting tanks and the greay area treatment plant.
The audience had a special word of praise for a poem on water recited by Arti Agrawal.
School Kids – Mishti Sharma and Ishan Jatti, distributed seed balls to the participants on behalf of Purple Turtle with the message “Save Environment for Us”.
The programme was conducted by Sana Khan.