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Sunday, 20 November 2016

One More Sustainable Swacch Bharat

Just like other middle-class children we were also busy in playing different kinds of outdoor games. We weren't as civilized as present day children with so many electronic gadgets and plastic toys to restrict ourselves to four walls of homes. But as the days passed on we learnt how to play cricket. That's the first advancement we made as developing children. No limit for our boundaries and sixes!

Meanwhile our locality started evolving gradually into a full fledged colony with a number of civic amenities. Number of pucca houses started sprawling all around to hide the invaluable top soil and to kill underlying soil microorganisms, insects and earthworms.  Concrete roads flanked by drainage canals and dust bins came up. The speed of our cricket ball was also increased and we were pleased to find the cricket ball running so fast non-stop on the solid pitches. But one nightmare started to haunt us. That's rolling down of ball into open drains. We had no option but to take out and reuse the same ball drenched all around with sewage. Anyhow we needn't to bother about hands and clothes getting a smear of that holy water. Later we  came to know the composition of the smear as urine, faecal liquids and bacterial colonies after listening the lesson, "Our Microbial World," taught by our biology madam. After getting enlightenment the pace of making boundaries and sixes also slowed down.

But the situation was quite different in the past before that advancement. We were so poor that we didn't use to let even a bit of garbage to cross across our fences. Garbage was purely biodegradable. Paper, jute fibres, coconut coir, leaves and bamboos were common. Plastics were yet to dominate the garbage component! We were putting the garbage in pits to make compost. We  weren't rich enough to purchase either chemical fertilizers or contaminated fruits and vegetables in the market; instead we were using home made manure to harvest home grown fresh food from the kitchen garden.

Water was more precious than food for us. We neither had an energised borewell nor a tap connection to misuse or waste water as per our greed. We were drawing water from the open well in spells as per the need. So we knew the actual value of water rather than that of water bill! Hence here's careful spending of water. Only one-third of the compound was  under the concrete cage. Naturally a very small concrete space, a few cotton clothes and kitchen appliances needed a very less quantity of water to wash and clean. Less water consumption used to create less drainage!

Even that small quantity of sewage worth a lot for us. We used to divert it to the bog garden in the backyard,  crowded with cannas, spider lilies and plantains. The only thing we used to let go was leftover part from utensils after washing. But the eagerly waiting  insects, fowls, sparrows and crows used to consume that part also. Practically nothing was being wasted. All this because we might be poor and less advanced!

We weren't civilized enough to let sewage or toilet water mix together and enter the mega network of concrete drains. Those days the drains were also not so broad and deep enough to house cockroaches, centipedes and rodents. There's  no any contribution of nitrogenous organic wastes, soap water or liquid shampoos from our homes to cause eutrophication of water bodies. We didn't know how to turn transparent water into black or green through algal blooms. Even we didn't know how to evolve a cool breeze wafting  fresh water tank into a source of evening stink. Neither we were a burden on society nor the society was on us. Retail business was also not fashionably evolved to present toned food in attractive plastic packings. Plastics had no any chance to clog the drains!

The thing what I haven't understood so far is why such a huge web of drainage canals are built and inter-connected?  When so many cheaper and safer methods are available, then why only this costlier and harmful mehod has become our final option? Why should we run gallons of dirty water all along our pathways to dump it finally into ponds, pools, rivers, seas and oceans? Instead we can localize the disposal in a sustainable way. Spending a lot to supply fresh water, to construct drains, to clean drains, to purify water and so on .....   the commercial cycle has been going on unabated.

If construction designs are planned well, the entire refuse can be recycled, and water can be recharged into the ground, at the housing site itself. No need to discharge into society. Even the chances of mixing of dirty water and potable water, through pipe line leakages, can be arrested. A number of water bodies can be let to get the past glory of freshness, and life sustenance for a number of water organisms! So motivating people and instructing architects and builders is the job of the responsible agencies.

The natural soil profile is itself the mega purifier of water. It's also an inbuilt mega water tank on the earth. Only a few inches of grass cover and a few feet of loose soil are required. The soil will start reabsorbing and purifying dirty water, followed by recharge, storage and resupply of fresh water. Or else the thirsty greed of humanity never be quenched; and water bodies will remain mega reservoirs of dreadful diseases, rottening fish and obnoxious stink. Let's the greed for concrete and plastic shouldn't disturb our dream for one more "Sustainable Swacch Bharat!"

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