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Skewed access to water is more serious than filthy Bagmati

Photo: Munny Pradhan (left) Kantipur (right)

With the economic meltdown since 2008 in the west and the chronic crises in the Euro Zone, the hidden costs of the high growth of the 1990s have started coming in. The current economic model has placed unprecedented stress, to the levels of ‘insult’ often, on the resource base as never before in the history. Over-exploitation and mismanagement of resources caused by high economic growth have degraded the environment and depleted natural resources in many places beyond repair.
This is the emerging environmental and economic crises that the developed world has begun to take seriously. But, it would be a big mistake if one thinks that we are yet on the safer side. In fact, we are on the same bandwagon as any others for the real threat we are all facing in the environmental and economic front.
Increased economic capability and high growth in consumption has put unprecedented stress on our natural resources, but the ones with economic strength hardly care about the impact of their insatiable demand for ecosystem services. The evidence that the increased income gap usually leads to skewed access to resources making environmental problem even more difficult to address, is right here in our backyard.
Here are two pictures taken in May, 2013. The picture of an old well under lock and key is from Panchkhal Valley where springs began to dry progressively since 2006. Panchkhal is now facing the biggest water scarcity it ever felt in the past. Shortage of water has made life quite miserable especially for women and school going girls. They wait until 1o clock in the morning to fill their water pots. The other picture is of a swimming pool with two young ladies enjoying hot summer days. This picture was published by Kantipur daily as ‘summer fun’. Even though, the pictures are from two different areas, the problems of skewed access to this basic resource can’t be more revealing than this.
Ceremonial official programs organized to clean Bagmati River or cleaning major thoroughfares of Kathmandu will never address environmental problems, which is getting serious year after year as depicted by drying springs.