WHAT CAN THE GOVERNMENT DO IN A DAY ZERO SITUATION?

Written by: JAHANVI JAJOO, NATIONAL LAW UNIVERSITY, JODHPUR

WHAT CAN THE GOVERNMENT DO IN A DAY ZERO SITUATION?

The pace at which urbanization, population, development is growing it is creating a huge impact on the Environment. We know there are limited resources available, yet we choose to exploit them as if these resources are available infinite times to us. The day is not far away when people will start killing each other for food and water. And we know that without water there will be no food as in India majority of the population is vegetarian and prefer soil grown food.

We know what Day Zero means after what happened in Cape Town in 2018. Day Zero means when the taps are expected to run dry, and severe shortage of water will hit us. Imagining that one day we will have to face this day gives goosebumps. It is just a nightmare, but we have to face the reality and the reality is that if we go with this pace of utilizing water, the day is not far.

In 2018 the government of Cape town announced that the city is going to face Day Zero in coming three months. The news was all over but suddenly this news disappears. What exactly happens? For obvious facts in such situation the whole of the society has to actively participate to overcome the problem. The government of that country has to actively try to nullify the upcoming situation. Now the question arises is what can the Government do in a Day Zero situation?

The first and foremost thing that the government can do is to impose tax on whoever exceeds the threshold of using water. Higher the water usage higher be the fine on it. The government should restrict the use of water for unnecessary purpose like swimming, lawns, garden, etc. India also faces this acute problem of its people cleaning there houses now and then. And when they clean their house, they waste water in huge amounts. The government should take steps to spread awareness regarding less wastage of water used for cleaning purpose. In sub-Saharan Africa, women and girls spend an estimated 40 billions hours a year collecting water.[1] In India, in most remote parts of Rajasthan there are still women going to water community wells to collect water, where they travel long distances to collect water for the upcoming week. This is the prevailing situation in today’s time also. So, the governments should is the households that exceed the limit face hefty fines, or having a meter installed in their home that shuts off their water once they go over. The writer find the latter approach a better one since what happens is when there are such crises in the air people have the mentality of storing more whatever be the price (this is what we saw in current coronavirus pandemic people started stockpiling things even if they had to pay more but didn’t pay heed to the fact of sharing and leaving commodities for others that is the down trodden who don’t have an excess to it). When the meter will automatically shut the supply that will help save water. What the Capetonians started doing is that they started showering standing over buckets to catch and re-use that water, recycling washing machine water, and limiting loo flushes to once a day. This action can be recommended by the government in their campaigns.

Campaigns should be sponsored by the government informing the citizens the steps that should be taken to conserve water, informing them about the level of water that is left in the reservoirs, dams and the rivers that hold water. The government can start a program the citizens can form a chain in there respective blocks and in these chains they give badges to each other whoever helps in conserving water and spreading awareness about it. This will involve people in the drive and help in spreading the importance of the issue.

This crisis will also hit the farming culture in India. The government can do is ask farmers to save as much water as they can. They can do so by growing only food that is required for staple diet. The government can ask the farmers to grow only those crops which require less amount of water. The farmers will have to abandon their crops, tens and thousands of job will be gone in this fray. But no body has choice. The government can provide steps to farmers such as water-saving hacks like night-time irrigation, mulching and concentrating water around the trees’, crops’ roots systems.

The government can also think about ideas like the one Saudi Arabia since long has been planning. Saudi Arabia plans to tow a 100-million-tonne iceberg from Antarctica. The government can also think of the of cloud seeding, harvesting water from the air.

The government can exploit its relations with other countries by buying additional water supplies from other water reservoirs in other regions. The government can even work on looking into water desalination plants, though new but can help India to use the geographic feature of being surrounded by three oceans.

As global temperatures continue to rise, cities around the world will have to figure out how to do more with less water. The Western Cape’s multi-pronged response to its water crisis – from farming innovations to reducing urban water use to diversifying water supply sources – could serve as a blueprint for cities that find themselves, like Cape Town, looking at near-empty dams. In India, Bengaluru faces acute shortage of water supply. “the number of waterbodies in Bengaluru has reduced by 79 per cent due to unplanned urbanization and encroachment- while built-up area has increased from eight per cent in 1973 to 77 per cent now,” claimed Down to Earth, the magazine that Centre for Science and Environment(CSE) helps publish.

Besides Bengaluru, other cities facing similar situation include Beijing (China), Mexico City(Mexico), Nairobi(Kenya), Karachi(Pakistan), Kabul(Afghanistan) and Istanbul(Turkey).[2]

The move will meet with a heady mix of relief and exasperation. All the actions are to be done to prepare for ourselves that we never have to see Day Zero.

[1] UN Women, Collecting and Carrying Water, burdensome reality for women: 2014 Update https://bit.ly/1ShoPzy

[2] ‘Water crisis: Bengaluru might head Cape Town way’. Read more at: https://www.oneindia.com/india/water-crisis-bengaluru-might-head-cape-town-way-2663174.html

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