This Earth Day we talk to Jasveen Jairath, an environmental activist and a founding member of ‘Save our urban lakes’, about water woes in the city
What are the main hurdles in terms of environmental protection?
I think, there is zero governance in the city. That is the most important issue that we are facing. No department is taking up any programs to save our environment. Even if taken up, it ends up being absolute anarchy. Water shortage is one concern that our city is facing. We are not realising that water is the most crucial thing in life and we give it least importance.
What do you think is the reason for the situation being such in the city?
The reason that we are in such a position is the unplanned chaotic construction activities, which have really thrown the life in the city out of gear. Do we even know how the water will come up for these projects. Currently, the city is in chaos. That is why everyone wants to take advantage of this situation and use water very irresponsibly in isolated circumstances. It is these circumstances that mafias are made and they survive. There is overuse of water by the effluent classes which leaves very less water for the economically backward classes.
What do you think will be the outcome of the Biodiversity meet that is due to be held in the city later this year?
Outcome of such meets is usually very indirect and slow. They are like jamborees. They succeed in putting the issues on the table. But in terms of action, I think they are very weak. Such occasions should be used to spread awareness.
What do you think about the low water levels in Osmansagar and Himayatsagar?
It is very frightening to know about it. Last year was a drought year. We started off with less water levels this year. The administration should have taken some steps, but since they haven’t, we’ll have to face the consequences now.
How do you think the people can help?
Firstly, people should be very conservative and wise in using their water. Things like street committees and mohalla committees should be formed by the people in order to impact their immediate environment. This then has to be followed by the people coming together and putting pressure on the government. The key here is that it has to be the power of the collective. The people have to raise their voice like the Anna Hazare and build pressure. We have to demand water justice.
What is Save our urban lakes’ current project?
Currently we are working on the issues of various lakes in the city like the Yellamma cheruvu, Lake Banjara and many more.