There is a Ganga in the sky and it doesn't cost much to link to it.
E F Schumacher overhearing an expert declare "Technology is the answer", famously asked, "What was the question?". That retort is appropriate for the current times when many of India's leading minds are advocating linking of our rivers.
If the question was about water shortages, the answer probably lies in local solutions, micro successes, raising awareness, involving people and altering collective behaviour. The attempt to engineer river linking would be a tragic folly were it not an undoable feat. For a fraction of the money that the State will waste chasing that chimera and fail, citizens and groups are attempting simple, common-sense solutions in water gathering and succeeding.
Little drops of water, says the hackneyed verse, make a mighty ocean;likewise, these small efforts will aggregate to a grand solution someday. And deliver a slap on behalf of Schumacher.
Tamil Nadu leads:
If ever water conservation becomes an urban citizens' movement in India the state of Tamil Nadu will have triggered it. For a long time, builders had been required to put in roof-top rain water harvesting systems [RWH] in new constructions. But recoiling under two years of drought, the government in July 2003 got pro-active: it proclaimed an Ordinance that gave three months for all city buildings to retro-fit RWH systems. Most commendably, all government building had to fall in line as well. Widest publicity was given across the state. Civil servants were asked to make RWH their number one priority. School children marched through most streets urging citizens to act. There was also a stick: if a building missed the October deadline, it's services were liable to be cut and have RWH systems installed by the state, with costs to owners. Things began to happen in quick time.