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Where do we go from here?

Water issues have again dominated the headlines this summer. Despite progress, why are we not able to manage our water needs satisfactorily? These questions remain as we bring down the curtains on Water Voices. We hope it has been able to highlight the water-related issues, and give a voice to all who felt strongly enough to write in.
PTI | By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 17, 2003 06:04 PM IST
The centrality of water in India's lives yet again got underscored this summer, tragically for some.

More than a 1,000 people died of drought this summer. Floods have already claimed more than a hundred lives and many more are expected to be lost as the monsoon intensifies over different parts of India. Water-related epidemics are creating havoc in different parts of the country. To top them all, inter-state disputes over water have seen people give up their lives.

Clearly water, or the lack of it, is enough to induce people to kill themselves. And this is a phenomenon on the rise as more and more farmers commit suicides in different parts of India.

Through a large part of this summer, Water Voices has looked at the various aspects of water in India - and tried to get across to you the importance of water and its conservation and management in the current context.

Water issues: Can we manage water better? Is a more equitable distribution possible? Can floods be foreseen and people warned? Can the effects of drought be mitigated? Can water be cleaner? Can there be less wastage?

This sight, found across Indian cities, has perhaps come to represent Indian summer more evocatively than any other.

These are all questions that face the country today - water shortages, both in urban and rural in India, water pollution, misuse of water, the role of weather and topography - which leads to almost annual floods and drought, and more lately, politics of water, which is worsening relations within the country. 

The issues do not end here. The question of displacement of people by mega water projects remains, and this has socio-economic parameters. Pricing and privatisation of water is exercising a lot of minds, especially those who foresee large profits from the process. Falling water table and over extraction have resulted in many agricultural areas being rendered fallow or otherwise unusable. Water translates into livelihood for millions - and yet, whenever they are affected, by means natural or by policy implementation, they usually stand to suffer.

And perhaps the quirkiest of all, the religious use of water - which is both prayed to and sullied (feminists will note the analogy with glee) - almost simultaneously, and with equal vigour.

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