Sunday, June 12, 2005

Water supplies run dry in modern India :: Telegraph

The shortage facing myself, my wife and six-month-old baby was resolved some time after midnight when a water-tanker driven by two furtive looking municipal employees reversed into the driveway and discharged 5,000 litres of precious water into tanks beneath the house.

The cost - including the "chai paani" or "tea money" as a sweetener is known - is 400 rupees (£5), a paltry sum on the face of it, but a small fortune when compared with our annual water bill of 924 rupees (£11.55).

According to Hindu tradition, the world will have entered its final stage or ''Kalyug'' when natural commodities like water, once considered the birthright of all men equally, are bought and sold.
. . .
No one seems ready or able to heed the advice of the environmentalists and moderate their consumption.

It is a water time bomb: ever-rising demand, ever-dwindling supply.

No one knows when the water will finally run out, but for a mere 400 rupees, those worries can be left for another day.
I'm a bit thick, so I can't really tell if the author understands that it is the lack of a market in water that is the source of the problem. He comes so close to saying so, but instead seems to endorse the notion that if water has a price then the end of the world is near. If prices don't signal cost, then there is no incentive for individuals to conserve water for highest and best uses.
It may be true, of course, that the authorities fear the wrath of the populace will come down on them if the price of water is increased to reflect its real costs. Understandble, yet delay in adopting a market solution is accelerating the approach of the end time, not delaying it.

Link found at Tim Worstall.

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