Water, Water Everywhere

We the citizens of Kathmandu have had a long wait for adequate water. Initial thought was during King Mahindra’s reign and later King Birendra’s, to supply with the waters of the Melamchi.

April 6, 2021, 1:57 p.m.

We, living at the bottom of the Himalayas in this land of Lord Pashupatinath have the belief that water flows out from the top of the head of Lord Shiva and flows down through our land on its way to the ocean. This water is liquid gold and saviour of us Nepalis. Maximum use should be made before it leaves our borders. We boast of our hydropower potential though utilising only a miniscule of the actual capability for our benefit. Yes, the waters of our rivers the Koshi, Gandaki, and Mahakali hurtle down the plains of India to reach the ocean carrying the rich topsoil of Nepal. Following the initial agreement of the Sharada Canal others have been signed for Koshi, Gandaki and Mahakali rivers on terms not amicable for us. Experience has shown that it is Nepali land that is inundated with water and sand because of obstructions to the passage of water from Nepal. Only lately has this dawned on us and perhaps because of PM Oli’s prodding, visions of transporting goods and passengers down the Narayani River have been floated. More recently the Chief Minister of Pradesh 1 visited the Kirat Heritage Rock Khuwalung with plans to run steamer services along the Arun, Timor and Koshi Rivers. Thus, the gliding of our panijahaj down our rivers is no longer an ‘Akash ko Phal’.

Reading Indian history one learns that Akbar the Great (1542 – 1605 CE) had his Mughal capital at Fatehpur Sikri from 1571 to 1585. The Emperor is said to have shifted the capital to Delhi because of the shortage of water at Fatehpur Sikri! I recall reading about three decades ago a newspaper article which stated that water shortage at the Indian capital may be so severe that people may even have to put locks on their water taps! This was of course a very negative view but the fact is that many householders of certain designated areas of New Delhi are currently recycling their used domestic water.

This reminds me that about an incident some 25 years ago when I was in Indonesia, a country surrounded by water. Seeing my taxi-driver with a bottle of drinking water in his hand, I asked him how things were. His reply, “Life is hard. Drinking water costs more than petrol in our land.”

Yes, this is a current situation about which, we the present generation, do not seem to be paying any heed. Water, a precious commodity, a giver of life to all living beings including us humans will be in short supply in the future. We humans, maximum users and imbibers of water, are the same beings who are polluting it the most and making it unfit to drink. We, the so called intelligentsia should be the ones ensuring the purity of water for drinking for four-footed cannot do so! Future reality is that humans even now, in some parts of the world e.g. Singapore and Gulf countries are desalinating sea water for drinking and household use!

We the citizens of Kathmandu have had a long wait for adequate water. Initial thought was during King Mahindra’s reign and later King Birendra’s, to supply with the waters of the Melamchi. PM Krishna Prasad Bhattarai, directed to start implementation during his first term, could do so only during his second stint. It has taken a total of 22 years for that dream to be somewhat fulfilled, for though the water has arrived its proper distribution is still lacking. What the effect of this water diversion on those living in the watershed of Melamchi is unknown. How long the water will suffice for an expanding Kathmandu is unknown?

About five decades ago in London I remember reading about an enterprising Irish entrepreneur who exported ‘Pure Irish Air’ in small tins from Dublin to the US for the Paddies / Irish there to buy at a Dollar a piece. They would then open the tin and inhale the air of the home country! Similarly, could we not export pure Himalayan water in bottles or tins to the Sheikhs of Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, and others? After all brands of ordinary or mineral water brands from European sources e.g. Volvic, Perrier, Evian and Nestlé’s Water products are already in the market. Beer based on Himalayan waters will certainly be in great demand in Europe. Current Nepali producers of bottled water could upgrade their facilities and in collaboration with known established brands produce items for sale and consumption in countries of Asia. Demand is always there for potable water i.e. amrit, specially following natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods and fires.

A new development that seems to be a hush-hush occurrence in the finding of uranium that apparently had been stored in Nepal for years and suddenly saw the light of day. Where was its origin? A claim was made that this substance, possibly Uranium 238 and weighing 2.5 Kg had been brought by a relative who had worked in a uranium mine in India. Four persons are currently in custody in this connection. Fact is that the Dept. of Mines & Geology had explored for uranium in Upper Mustang in 2014. A rumour at that time was that the Chure Range may also be a site as traces of the element were found along a river in Makwanpur. Hush hush activities are regular in this land of ours? One recalls that some time ago a non resident Nepali living mostly in foreign lands was said to be manufacturing Bitcoins in Nepal? Was this just a whistle in the wind?

The country wide dadhelo at 437 sites in 54 zillas at March end has created breathing difficulties for many. Thankfully April Showers have lessened it. What we, all around the world are seeing, with the global warming taking place is the melting of icebergs and its effect. Severe hot spells, forest fires and extensive rain with massive floods are occurring in Europe, Asia, Americas and Australia. Is it a time of Apocalypse, or Doomsday or Kaliyug, call it what you will? In the midst of all this will the Covid-19 epidemic which has had up to three waves in some countries suddenly become more deadly and severe to kill off the human race? It’s a harrowing thought!

Dr.Hemang Dixit.jpg

Hemang Dixit

The author writes fiction under the name of Mani Dixit. Website: www.hdixit.org.np. Twitter: @manidixithd

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