Kurush Canteenwalla’s documentary made as part of the Infochange Media Fellowship 2009 starts in thirsty Delhi and travels to the lush, green Renuka valley in Himachal Pradesh. Some 550 families in 17 panchayats here are to be thrown off their fertile picture-postcard land to make way for the Renuka dam that will supply water to Delhi. Those living in the area –mostly farmers - point to the many crops they grow and from which they make a decent living, and expose the falsehoods of government officials who claim this is a barren and treeless area.This is shocking.
Journalist Ravleen Kaur points out that Delhi does not suffer from shortage of water but from unequal distribution, with sarkari Delhi getting more than 10 times the water of some other areas, and writer Anupam Mishra produces a 200-year-old map that shows how thoughtless and greedy city planning has caused Delhi’s ponds and rivers to disappear so that it now has to reach out 300 miles away to slake its thirst.
The government justifies the dam in the ‘national interest’ but the video leaves one wondering just how Delhi is in the national interest and the Renuka valley is not.
A friend asked - So what is the solution?
My response was - Like the CWG, it is an issue of having vision and managing its execution. With out thinking the quick fixes or the solution that will give most kickbacks.
Specifically, Better management of leakage and wastage.
We are currently having availability of 300 liters / day / resident in Delhi. Cities having just 100 liters / day / resident do a better job of supplying. Almost 30 % water gets lost in Delhi in leakage and wastage.
Secondly our traditional sources of water harvesting like wells and baoli need to be preserved. (Remember Khari Baoli - there used to be a baoli in OLD DELHI with hard water).
The concretization of entire city has meant greatly reduced capacity of land to recharge. That needs to be corrected. But is unlikely.
Look at CWG apartments sanctioned by the Courts - on the Yamuna ji's bed. And what grounds ?? - It is wrong, the Court said, but it is late, so lets' sanction, environment be damned. Meaning - we delayed it, but you pay for the environment impact.
Without naming names, it is common consensus amongst Supreme court lawyers - that a particular retired Chief Justice of India is worth 250 crores. No, he did not win the Lotto.
Corrupt judiciary, even more corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, and an emerging plutocracy - you are looking at ever factor that can lead to collapse of a nation / society.
Public opinion can do wonders - look at what Medha Patkar was able to accomplish for the dam displaced. But the apathetic civil society and biased media make that a game of chance.
So NET NET - the rampant corruption afflicting the arms of democracy and public apathy - both have a common cause. Decline in character of people.
For correcting that, the RSS Shakha is one route.
Other routes might include reviving the moral education and a highlighting those who walk the talk in living a life of integrity. Religious / civil society movements are the only solution I can see.
Bringing about Transparency helps reduce the loot and tilt the balance in this fight.
When a nation's character disappears, the nation collapses. The tragedy is that we have got into this situation in less than 70 years.