This year's World Water Day theme, 'Water and Climate Change' could not be more appropriate because the two are inextricably linked. Roughly two-thirds of the Earth's surface is covered with water, yet people in many parts suffer from acute water crisis. The reason is simple: the seven billion inhabitants on this planet have already proved too many to share its resources, including water, rationally. Also, most of the sea and ocean water known for salinity is unfit for human consumption. It is the sweet water that is in great demand. Again much of natural sources of sweet water is so heavily polluted as a result of indiscrete human actions that this life-sustaining element is now short in supply or unevenly distributed the world over. Consequently, states within a country such as in the United States of America and India are locked in a battle over sharing waters from interstate rivers. The problem is no less acerbic, if not more, between nations of a region.
No wonder, wise people have predicted that the third world war will be fought on sharing water. Even if the prediction does not come true, it highlights the gravity of the crisis the human race is likely to encounter over the issue of water sharing. True, man cannot be blamed for water shortage in deserts like Sahara where condition has been so from time immemorial. But when forest covers are destroyed for logging on a scale unseen before in human history or plastic junks, polythene and industrial waste -both solid and liquid -get deposited in agricultural land, river and sea beds, it is not only water quality that deteriorates but also marine life is threatened. Over the years, decades and centuries, the Earth's health has thus been vitiated and today the environment has become more vulnerable than any time before. The polar ice caps and the Himalayan glaciers are melting at a precariously faster rate on account of global warming.
No wonder, the United Nations has taken the same theme for both the World Water Day (observed on March 22 every year) and the World Meteorological Day for observance. But will this effort prove enough for driving the message home for headstrong heads of government in some rich and developing nations with natural resources such as forests and fossil fuel reserves? The world has resources, proper utilisation of which can guarantee enough foods and secure living for every human being. But unfortunately some wallow in luxury and still explore new frontier of comfort and consumerism while billions eke out a miserable life.
At home also such avarice is taking its toll on poor people's lives. In large swathes in the country's south-west and hilly east, water scarcity has been a major cause for their poverty. Little or no access to pure drinking water and irrigation has left a terrible impact on health and financial well-being. Socio-economic inequality is not only getting perpetuated but even widening because of maldistribution of resources like water. At the same time, it has terrible adverse impacts on the environment, courtesy of shrimp enclosures that is responsible for saline water intrusion and arsenic invasion. Man's tinkering with Nature has gone much too far and the latter now returns the backlash.