Friday, April 30, 2010

36. The hands of god

Did you notice that piao, the conspicuous little window along the street that used to fill your stretched palm with water, has slowly disappeared from our lives! One could rarely see the person behind the window but the proverbial hands of god would consistently pour the elixir of life. More often than not it would be a woman, silently upholding a rich tradition of serving water to the passers by. At other places, a piao would mean few clay pots filled with water lying under a shady tree alongwith a tumbler for self-service.

Not any more, as societal response to fulfilling individual human needs has few takers. As municipalities restrict the supply of `non-revenue water', a class of water that doesn't generate income, the piao cannot sustain its services. Ironically, such an essential service is clubbed under acts of pilferage - be it through theft or metering inaccuracies - that the municipalities are wanting to curb. No wonder, even community taps have been abandoned at several locations.

Isn't the state's failure to distribute water equitably been the cause for the so-called water thefts? Far from addressing the root cause, the move has been to convert all available resource into `revenue water'. Each drop will have to be paid for, the municipalities want to generate revenue from the estimated 40 per cent `lost' water. Many railway stations stop water supplies minutes before the crowded trains arrive!

Mark my words, the next war will be over restricted supply of `non-revenue water' - an unwritten human right. Amen!

8 comments:

River Research Centre said...

good observation. Infact in Kerala we had the tradition of providing Sambaaram ( diluted curd milk in place of water to passers by )to quench thirst in the heights of summer. Not any more.

Vinay said...

Well Sudhirendar, come to our house and you will see half a dozen Pitchers outside it having cold water round the clock, courtesy our neighbour.

Kuldeep said...

The days of earning 'Punya' through good deeds have long passed. Today Money is the God. So, anything which is available from nature has a price. Someone somewhere put a price to land, then another started selling trees and wood, then fruits and vegetables, followed by milk and its by-products.
However, till two decades ago selling and buying drinking water would repulse most. Today, expensive bottles of drinking water can be found in far off villages.
The day is not far when we would be billed for inhaling oxygen. The hands of Money God are extending beyond imagination.

Vijay Rai said...

The Great MCD and Delhi Jal Board have evolved innovative methods to use (read squander) public money on Ghost employees, in schemes that have spend money with no measurable benefits no anyone; They won't mind half page advertisement in TOI on how to save oneself from heat-stroke but Piaos are out of fashion, or may be they are too cheap. It does not matter if drinking water is not available when you are thirsty in the middle of the road. But I am sure they would expect Pepsi or Coke to do this for them as part of their corporate social responsibility!

-Dr. Vijay Rai

Dr.HC said...

The "Piao" system was the actual need of that time in rural as well as uerban areas perticularily in summer season. Now a days, the "piaos" were replaced by the bottle packed water "Mineral water" also in semi-rural areas but not in the real rural areas. The "Piao" system was also the one of the platforms to share the ideas, experiences and culture in those days as the people used to take some rest after taking water but now, it is disappearing due to the more awareness creation on safe water drinking or becteria free drinking water aspects. If anybody want to see the "Piaos" should visit actual rural areas where these "Piaos" acts as bonding element for the people in Rajasthan.
Dr Harish Gena

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