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Budget 2015
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Renowned water conservationist predicts forced migration
By TOG News Service
Jun 21, 2018

TOG News Service, NEW DELHI, JUNE 21, 2018: IN the midst of water shortage and related problems from different parts of the country, renowned activist Mr Rajendra Singh, expressed his fears of a forced migration from the country within the coming seven years. Also nicknamed as the 'waterman', Mr Singh predicted such a grim future should measures not be taken, on an urgent basis, to save available ground water & also replenish the same. He also pitched for preventing the wasteful use and draining of rain water.

Almost 90 cities and towns in the country have been facing situation of 'Day Zero' with taps running dry for days, as around 2.5 villages or settlements are in the want of safe drinking water and more than 72% of the areas in the country are overdrawing ground water and heading for early crisis of 'Day-Zero,' when there would be no water available, the Magsaysay award-winning crusader stated.

Government authorities at the level of the Centre, states and the rural and urban local self government bodies, have demonstrated total apathy to their role in protecting resources and replenishing water table, Mr Singh, whose NGO Tarun Bharat Sangh had been successfully revived several streams and water bodies at different places, he said. The apathy is evident from the fact that an allocation of Rs 1,600 crores was made for aquifers mapping in the country three years ago, however, the concerned agencies and authorities failed to do so or even utilise fully the fund allocated.

Presently, people are migrating from problem prone rural areas to urban towns aggravating the situation there but within seven years the situation might worsen and the country might witness forced migration from the country as being witnessed in several countries like Syria, Sudan, Palestine, the Waterman predicted, sharing experience during his visits to over 35 crisis prone countries in Africa, Europe and Central Asia. Syria has virtually faced water war as Sudan is confronted with waterborne diseases, he pointed out.

Referring to water woes in the national capital of New Delhi, Mr Singh said that contamination of ground water due to high concentration of fluorides, nitrates and even poisonous arsenic are also caused by over exploitation of ground water as it triggers more mixing of minerals from the rocks. In this regard, he stated that the top most priority for the government is to ensure conservation of the aquifers and urgent and effective measure to replenish and recharge ground water by way of total rain water harvesting.

He further advised preventing wasteful draining of rain water, tapping every drop of it and fully returning to the earth through water harvesting structures, he elaborated. Thereby, if earnest and concerted steps were taken, the situation could improve within next 4-5 years. There were instances, when some countries averted crisis by way of their sincere efforts. He gave the example of Cape Town in South Africa which succeeded in its efforts, when the authorities and people there managed to push back the Day Zero, the apocalyptic day when taps could run dry, to 2019.