The land’s people at large, soaked in words of wisdom attributed to sages and scholars of yore, don’t seem to be convinced about the relevance of the message therein with simple-to-follow rules of the game called life and to live in sync with nature, even as its largesse in the form of air, water, soil and greenery has been exploited, stretching beyond limits. The people are being reminded by the country’s multi-lingual media about their misdemeanour and the consequent devastation, virtually committing hara-kiri by denuding forests, mining sand from river beds, fouling environment with debris of mountainous proportions, polluting water bodies with effluents, overuse of various products based on advancing technologies (automobiles, plastics, pesticides, cell phones, drugs and fossil fuels in a short list as illustration). The harm being done to the earth’s ecology, presented as facts in cold print, is dismissed in circles of literati as mere myth. It is business as usual.
While the role of Science and Technology in mitigating human misery and raising the comfort level in life of people cannot be denied by any stretch of imagination, instances of short-term gains thereof merit attention to avoid prospects of solutions to problems worsening the magnitude of problems.
Of the many gifts of nature, water is currently figuring at the top of debates in both circles of the cognoscenti and lay sections of the population. The realisation of mindless acts of human beings resulting in lakes vanishing, rivers drying, ground water table receding, monsoon bringing rain far below long-term average quantity even in regions known for copious rainfall and so on has come belatedly. An article published recently in the prestigious journal Nature, appearing in a section of the Press, has brought out some startling findings concerning water. Only a third of the world’s longest rivers are flowing freely, the study says. The other observation namely “Dams and reservoirs are drastically reducing the diverse benefits that healthy rivers provide to people and nature across the globe” points to the vital link rivers have with land, ground-water and atmosphere.
While economic compulsions are met with construction of dams (about 60,000 worldwide) and assessing their real long-term impacts across an entire basin or region is to be done with generation of data, rivers being the life-blood of Planet cannot be vandalised any longer. Dams, according to experts, should not hurt free-flowing rivers, given their diverse benefits.