Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hindu festival of Holi in India...

A chronic water shortage will put a dampener on the Hindu festival of Holi in India today after revellers were warned not to use dangerously low drinking supplies for traditional rain dances.

Water consumption in Mumbai soars during the annual festival of colours. The causes are twofold: first comes the celebratory soaking that accompanies dancing in the streets; later, millions of gallons are used to wash away the coloured powders flung at each other by worshippers marking the arrival of spring.

Last year India suffered its worst monsoon rains since 1972. Water levels in the six lakes that supply the commercial capital plunged and Mumbai, like many other cities, now only receives mains water for part of the eachday.

“As the city is reeling under a water shortage people should avoid using drinking water for non-potable purposes, especially rain dances,” a local government official said.Mumbai’s Mayor, Shraddha Jadhav, called for a change in the law to make the misuse of water a criminal offence. The authorities plan to send out teams to monitor Holi parties.

Experts fear that such crisis measures will become more common. India’s water needs are expected to double by 2030 as the population expands, the agricultural sector strains to supply enough food and more people acquire proper plumbing.

A study published in Nature, the science journal, warnedthat shortages could trigger social conflict. Already, street skirmishes regularly occur in Mumbai as crowds wait for tankers with daily supplies.

In December one person died in the city during a protest calling for an end to water cuts. Only a fifth of households have their own mains supply, a recent study found.

Similar shortages blight much of the country. In the northern state of Rajasthan officials are preparing to send emergency tankers to 10,000 villages in the coming weeks.

The issue also holds geopolitical implications: last month, Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said that the resolution of water disputes between India and Pakistan was one of the most pressing concerns in the region.



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