The Texture of Drought | india | Hindustan Times
Today in New Delhi, India
Mar 26, 2017-Sunday
New Delhi
  • Humidity
  • Wind

The Texture of Drought

india Updated: Apr 08, 2013 01:20 IST

This is the Government of India's Water Week. In Marathwada, it continues to be No-water Week.

Mohammed bin Tuglaq discovered this soon after he shifted his capital here in 1327, but few residents of the region have benefited from this insight, reinforced time and again.

I just spent a few days in the relatively better-off urban and per-urban Aurangabad. Clean water was the most elusive drink for most locals. In the municipality, taps flow for a couple of hours every alternate day. Typically, water costs about a hundred rupees for a thousand litre drum. Since supplies depend on others not buying the entire water before you do, neighbours pool in and buy 3,000 litres, which they store in several smaller drums. This way, the water dalal knows he has a secure market and buyers are assured regular supply. There is little choice. Bore wells are nearly dry. Some baoris have water, and surplus is sold to the water contractors. In more rural areas, a worker complained, a water-dalal sometimes won't sell the water in anticipation of higher prices elsewhere.

A relatively affluent farmer complained he had only one crop last year, since there was no rainfall at all.

Water harvesting-not the only solution in any case-is only just starting. Everyone who can is purchasing water. It is as much about scarcity as about distribution. The situation underscores how perverse markets can be. And how ill-equipped governance is to handle an old environmental crisis.