Client / Financial Support:Winrock International/Ford Foundation Duration: 32 mins
The present water crisis is largely a crisis of our own making. It is not about failing monsoons or about the fact that parts of India are naturally prone to scarcity. Areas that were formerly water-surplus, today have an acute and chronic shortage of water. This transformation has come about largely because of changing patterns of water use. Cropping patterns have altered across the country, with less water-demanding pulses giving way to water intensive cash cropping. Two crops a year have been replaced by three crops a year, probably necessary to meet the growing food requirements of a hungry nation. But there are changes which defy logic. The growing number of private swimming pools in big cities, rain dances and water amusement parks offering ridiculous water-intensive sport such as ‘Snow Valley’.
Much of the additional demand for water has been met from tube wells that have mushroomed all over the Indian landscape. In parts of northern Gujarat, water is now available 800 feet below the surface. With the water table falling at 30 feet a year, water supplies simply will not last.
There is a social dimension to this environmental crisis. Inevitably, rural India, and within rural India the very poor, have had to face the brunt of the water shortage. Water is pumped or diverted from the rural countryside to meet the unending needs of India’s urban population – for drinking purposes, but also, to wash cars, to fill swimming pools, to ensure adequate water in water amusement parks or simply to flush. With a plummeting water table tube wells and hand pumps have gone dry. More and more of the rural poor are now forced to migrate – in search of work, but also, simply in search of water.
Hunting Down Water looks at the conflicting uses of water in our everyday lives – both rural and urban.