Water Security is National Security
Water resources and how they are managed impact almost all aspects of society and the economy, in particular health, food production and security, domestic water supply and sanitation, energy, industry, and the functioning of ecosystems. Under present climate variability, water stress is already high, particularly in many developing countries, and climate change adds even more urgency for action. Without improved water resources management, the progress towards poverty reduction targets, the Millennium Development Goals, and sustainable development in all its economic, social and environ- mental dimensions, will be jeopardized. UN Water.Org
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Monday, January 21, 2013
In recent weeks, Chinese and western media have been all atwitter over the shocking levels of air pollution inBeijing and a number of other Chinese cities. But it really shouldn’t be all that shocking. After all, in 2007, the World Bank and China’s own State Environmental Protection Administration (now the Ministry of Environmental Protection) found thatthat as many as 750,000 people die prematurely in China annually from respiratory disease related to air pollution. And more recently, Greenpeace Beijing reported that in 2011 in four major cities, more than 8,000 people died prematurely as a result of just one pollutant, PM 2.5. Anyone who spends any time in Beijing knows that the city has not yet found a way to tackle the myriad sources of air pollution from construction to cars to coal.
Ratlam is perhaps the only city endowed with as many step-wells or bawdis,almost one step-well at each step inthe town of little over 200,000 inhabitants.
According to municipal records, some 52 bawdis exist in various stages of neglect. Even the police station and the government hospital have bawdis in their premises. However, indications are that many more may have subsequently been filled-up to pave way for municipal or private usage.
Located on the Delhi-Mumbai railway route, Ratlam has been an important junction which is better known for its range of salt confectioneries. Situated in the north-west part of Madhya Pradesh, better known as malwa, Ratlam was once one of the first commercial towns in central India known for its extensive trade in opium, tobacco and salt.
But the irony is that most of the step-wells in the town -- though heritage structures -- have been taken for granted as waste dumps, earning the municipality flak from the media and the public at large. A preliminary survey revealed that while the Sai Bawdi in Shastri Nagar and the Do Mukhi Bawdi on the main street have been turned into garbage bins by the surrounding habitation, theKashi Viswanath Bawdi, a few yards away, has retained its glory under a samiti headed by a local priest.
Why have bawdis come to endow this town? The town must have had a rich history at the centre of its legacy. It is evident that the bawdis have existed much before the town of Ratlam was founded by Captain Borthwick in 1829, with broadened roads and well-built houses. The town was not only the capital of the princely state of Ratlam, it was an important town on the trade between western and central princely states.
Given the fact that the town is located in a region that receives an average 90 cm rainfall during two months of the year, it might have forced the inhabitants to build the bawdis. Due its proximity to Rajasthan, the traditional knowledge of water storage and conservation may have percolated from the adjoining dry districts. The need for step-wells may have been necessitated due to the large presence of outside traders in the city as well.
Needless to say, the bawdis were in use well after Independence for household water consumption as well as for critical irrigation needs. These were in use till drinking water was sourced first from Gunavad pond and later from a large storage structure called Dolawad. Some 40-45 lakh gallons of water get supplied for daily domestic consumption in the city. More