Declarations of climate emergency had reached a crescendo, when the pandemic brought us all to a standstill. In the abrupt quiet, we heard the birdsong, and signs that a lesser human footprint could help the environment regenerate itself. But it can't be at the improbable cost of shutting down an intricate machinery of economies and human endeavour. On occasion of the World Environment Day, what then do we hope for this living planet to be?
Residents await a municipal water tanker in Kolkata, India. March 22, 2017
India has only 4% of the global fresh water resources while it has to quench the thirst of about 18% of the world population. Of the total fresh water resources, 78% was being used for irrigation a decade ago. With hardly any effective regulation, the policy of cheap or free power supply for irrigation has led to a situation of near-anarchy in the use of groundwater. In places like Punjab, the water table is going down by a metre a year. Niti Aayog had declared recently that 21 major Indian cities could run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting access for 100 million people.