Drinks for all   (15 May 2009)

A recent Supreme Court judgment notes that the right to clean drinking water is part of the right to life as guaranteed by article 21 of Indian constitution. Now, Supreme Court has stepped into enforcing this right and ensuring that continuous supply of clean drinking water is available to all Indians. Their judgment has directed the central government to form a new committee composed of eminent scientists, with the mandate to do scientific research on a war footing to resolve the water shortage crisis in India. The court has even directed the committee to take this task as patriotic duty and not shy away from taking help from NRIs and even foreign experts. The members have been asked to work for inventing cheap solutions for converting saline water into fresh water, harvesting rain water and also managing flood waters.

The historical SC judgment by Justices Markandey Katju and HL Dattu observes that access to clean water is something not even the rich and the priviledged living in the biggest cities in India are blessed with. A basic utility that most citizens of developed nations take for granted is a lifelong struggle for most Indians, who have to toil everyday to get clean water. The worst, unfortunately, is yet to come as rivers and ground water table across India are drying up at an alarming rate. If drastic measures are not taken, there will soon be too less water for the billions of teeming Indians.

The Supreme Court judgment is the first credible step towards solving one of the biggest problems we are facing. The court has even resolved to regularly monitor the progress made in this direction and directed the committee to provide an update every alternate month. People say that wars will soon be fought for water, but the Supreme Court might have already pre-empted the imminent calamity.

Rajeev Shukla