United Nations reports have documented in various forums that climate change is one of the many forces contributing to the water crisis. The report released by UNICEF in March 2017, “Thirsting for a future” indicates that by the year 2040, almost 600 million children are projected to be living in areas of extremely high-water scarcity.
Goal 6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, aims to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.” It clearly outlines targets to manage water under rare conditions, maintain water for ecosystems and improve management of wastewater.
Most of the villagers of Mudukulathur taluk of Ramanathapuram district in Tamil Nadu, India, are virtually dependent on private drinking water sources, supplied through water tankers and cans. They sell a canister (18 litres) of water for INR 5 and a can of RO plant water (20 liters per can) for INR 30.
In the past, pond was not only a natural resource but also a point of high social exchange. It would serve as a meeting place for the many that have migrated into the village newly and was integral in preserving the social and cultural milieu. In the past, women would carry water pots weighing a minimum of 25 litres on their heads and had long-drawn conversations. It is left for us to wonder as to why these incidents do not take place in other locations but by the side of the pond.
At this point, it is best to revisit the unique practices of rural India and southern part of Tamil Nadu (India), Ramanathapuram district in particular. They separate ponds have been demarcated based on the need: ‘Ooranie’ used for drinking purposes and ‘Kanmoi’ used for other domestic activities.
However, today this culture of ‘I, me, and myself’ has paved the way for unsustainable development and the villagers have fallen prey to standards of the people living in the big cities. Using ponds were not the modern culture of people in cities; instead, getting water from the taps is the attractive modern culture of the people in the towns, borrowed from other countries. However, commercially and economically vibrant cities fail to unify people for a social cause. Unlike the rural community, the city needs an arranged social function to gather people for interactions.
The need to safeguard ponds has been pushed back, and taps have become the order of the day. Ponds and later open-wells on the bunds of ponds had the least maintenance. Bore-wells and street pipes have actively been the alternative mode among the villagers. People who used to gather at the ponds for fetching water are not more united due to taps from cities. Hence, water taps have eventually stolen the unity of villagers.
By Arul Durai S
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