World Water Day was observed yesterday in Bangladesh like elsewhere in the world with a call for ensuring safe water for all. It is said that the next World War will be over water. Water is life. Besides our health care, economic production and social activities depend on water. But due to adverse effects of climate change, pollution and encroachment of rivers and water bodies as well as over-extraction of ground water, our fresh water sources are rapidly shrinking.
The rapid fall in ground water table over the past several years is a major worry as experts repeatedly sounded warnings about its adverse side. Over-extraction to meet the growing need of a growing population is the obvious reason. Some of the extracted water is of course ‘recycled,’ but the amount is far less than lost. The continuous sinking of the groundwater table holds the risk of land subsidence and other environmental calamities.Bangladesh cannot be called a “water-stressed” country. Water is being increasingly viewed worldwide as the most sought-after resource, while this country is reasonably well-endowed with this resource considering that other countries rarely possess such multiplicity of rivers crisscrossing the land. So, if we have become overwhelmingly dependent on groundwater along with burgeoning population, it is leading Bangladesh to a crisis that can be averted only by mass awareness about the proper use of water.
As part of improved water management, rainwater has to be harvested. The wisdom of the ancient people can be a good guide here and rainwater must be made to supplement the water needs. The rivers in and around the city should be maintained properly so that they may be used as source of clean water.
In one word, it is time we became serious about water; if we cannot address the causes responsible for shortage of water right now, the cost of neglect and inaction will be catastrophic. It will hit the economy hard, jobs will be lost as farming and industry will collapse.