Chennai And Its Water Woes

Since the time I remember, Chennai has had water shortage. That is, at least since ’70s. There used to be talk of bringing Krishna water to Chennai during those years.Then as I went to college, friends from TN used to narrate the “shortage and water rationing” in Chennai. As water table in our village was between 5m and 10m at the time, I could never imagine that something like water can ever be in short supply. Then I was taught Hydrology as part of the curriculum and I realised that all water shortages are manmade, or more exactly, are because man failed to have manmade arrangements.

In spite of all the chest beating by Environmentalist thugs, we are not short of water. And will never be. Only problem is that water is not where it should be, or it is there when we don’t need it, and not there when we actually need it. So all we need is water storage and water distribution networks. That is dams, and canals. Mention dam and canals, and see the Environmentalists go crazy, tear their hair out, frothing at mouth, refusing to eat, and rushing to courts which are only too happy to look good and saviours of the “environment,” and promptly grant the stay. Now the Environmentalists have their own court: NGT.

And so it is. Farmers in Vidarbh hang themselves as crops fail. TN and Karnataka are on the verge of full scale war every summer. I am sure if given tanks, there would be invasion of Chennai and Bengaluru by tomorrow morning. And all this while, over 3500 mm of rainfall in the Western Ghats flows back to sea within hours of rains. All this water can be dammed and pumped to Vidarbha and TN, and of course to Chennai.This has actually been done by many countries in similar situation. Water is dammed on the rain side of the mountain range and pumped to the rainshadow side.

But for this to happen, first India will have to regain freedom from the Environmentalist mafia, and secondly, India will have to teach its politicians not to win elections using freebies. Water schemes need money. Our states do not have money. They do not allow industries to be set up, so they do not earn tax revenue, and whatever revenue they get, they use on freebies to win elections. Tamil Nadu pioneered freebies-for-vote schemes. It even gives TVs for votes. And Tamil Nadu also suffers acute water shortage. It is not just a coincidence.

When we vote for the freebies, we do not realise that the money so diverted will not be available for essential government functions like roads, schools, hospitals, and water supply & sewage disposal systems. Women of Delhi who would enjoy the free rides granted by Kejriwal will surely spend money so saved on water tankers, and money in terms of time in having to get up early to fill those buckets before taps go dry for the day.

Rajasthan struck bonanza in a new oil field. Gehlot promptly enacted some more freebies, instead of creating water storage and distribution systems for a state with a low rainfall. We only pay for the freebies we get in exchange of our votes, and in many deadlier ways than we imagine.

Do you remember Gujarat, the state with recurrent droughts? Have you heard of a drought in Gujarat after Sardar Sarovar Dam? And do you remember the fierce campaign against the dam? That is what water storage and distribution system achieves.

And a bigger crisis is also looming. Water table in the agricultural belts of Punjab and Western UP are falling rapidly. But the Environmentalist mafia is not allowing dams in the Himalayas, which would both recharge the aquifers and replace well irrigation with canal irrigation. When the hungry and thirsty population of these areas would invade Delhi, Environmentalists and Milords would have no alternative but to flee to Europe, if they manage to reach the airport, of course.