Tamil Nadu stares at water crisis as rain fails
“Tamil Nadu is staring at one of its worst water crises. Going by data put out by the public works department, the major irrigation reservoirs in the state have a combined storage of only 15% of its total capacity, which continues to dwindle. The northeast monsoon has been deficient in most districts with the meteorological department recording a 66% deficiency. The state had [already] suffered a deficit rainfall during the southwest monsoon between June and September this year. ‘Both agriculture and water supply will be adversely affected given the present scenario,’ said a senior government official, seeking anonymity.” —Times of India, 16 Nov 2016
India has severe problems with a Monsoon that has become increasingly erratic over the last two decades. Two months after the Winter Monsoon’s regular starting date, 1st October, the local plateau here has seen but a handful of rainy days, only one of which resembled somehow seasonally normal conditions.
Yesterday we had a full-day powercut which low pressure in the hydroelectric powerplants may have contributed to. As the farm is allowed to pump water from the well only every other day, and as – thanks to a biased arbitration decision – we have lost all storage capacity to neighbours who are making no proper use of those, nor of the land we had to hand over to them, this poses a threat to the existence of the place. And it is just the beginning of what seems to be part of a steep decline into global destruction. Forget about food security in a town where the little farming we have receives an abundance of contempt from a society in which a sizeable fraction of the population believes tourists’ money and government grants equal sustainable living.
I know that the Californian drought is going on for more than five years already, causing almonds and nuts shortages and price spikes in farwaway Germany. I know that places on the American plains and elsewhere in the World have been hit much earlier and much harder already than Southeast India, but that newspaper article, which I read only yesterday in the evening drove it home; drove it home to the deeper place where it belongs, beyond the mind.
I read it, and I cried.
I remembered having looked at sea ice graphs and global temperature figures and jetstream projections and polar weather maps just a few hours before, and I cried.
I looked up at the starlit raintree canope in front of my hut, and I cried.
I am not afraid of dying, and I know that all things shall pass; yet I cried for the untimely demise of all that beauty, considering how each of us has contributed – and is perpetually contributing – to its impending extinction. The cows, the crickets; the goats, the grass; the hares, the humans; the paddy birds and the palmyra; this beautiful, garbage-strewn, sun-baked land of India which in the not-so-distant future might face civil war over precious water crossing hate-based state borders.
I can feel how quite a few believe that I’m nuts (likely not those who made it this far into the text; thanks for still being with me). I am very aware of the fact that I am standing in a millennia-old tradition of doomsayers, all of which have been graced with being spared the real thing; 2012, after all, has come and passed not that long ago. And this as well is part of why I am crying: because the writing’s on the wall, in capital letters, everywhere around us, still everyone carries on as if those were just minor glitches on a TV screen. Seen it before; won’t happen to me. It’s a conversation you can’t have unless you seek to run into a wall of escapism, denial, and unfounded hopes.
I have been grieving before and I have been crying before. Understanding the inescapability and necessity of it all leaves no other choice, apart from closing my eyes. I do close my eyes sometimes, though not for a childlike kind of hiding; it is to connect to the joy of being alive, to focus on the love from which right action will come, and to be present for what needs to be witnessed.