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Exploring a Topic in Depth

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Samuel Coleridge wrote this extraordinary piece at the dawn of the eighteenth century (1798). After over two hundred years, these lines still echo. A geography teacher tells that, though 72% of the earth is covered in water, 97% of it is saline and unfit for drinking. So the fresh drinking water becomes a very precious resource. Are we using it judiciously enough, then?

An inspired teacher asked this question in her class. In answering this question, students came up with a water charter – the do’s and don’ts of using water prudently. This charter was made into beautiful posters and pasted in the school and the students’ own localities.   

With the rise in population, there is also a rise in the demand for consumable water. According to the Indian Government, the per capita availability of water has come down to 1,545 cubic meters by 2011, from 1,816 cubic meters in 2001.

Come 21st March and the most colourful festival of Holi will be celebrated, as is every year. Tons of gallons of water will be wasted again in Holi. It is estimated that around 20 million litres of water is wasted in a small city; leave the quantum of water loss in big cities. Our friend teacher is planning to ask her students to think together on a series of questions. Do we really need water to celebrate Holi? How can we minimise the wastage of water during this festival? She is also planning to discuss how to celebrate dry Holi with organic colours made from fragrant flowers, dry leaves, fruits, stem, etc. Our friend again gave students an exciting opportunity to make organic colour by themselves. It was a healthy practice for health, environment and also saving water.

Eminent scholar, environmentalist and author, Anupam Mishra spent his life finding about the water wisdom of Indian people. Advocating the conservation of traditional water structures of India, Anupam Mishra has been leading a silent but permanent revolution in the areas of water conservation and water management. He has authored landmark works in the field of water conservation, which includes Aaj Bhi Khare Hain Talaab (Ponds Are Still Relevant, 1993) and Rajasthan Ki Rajat Boondein (Radiant Raindrops of Rajasthan, 1995). Take a look at this amazingly simple and inspiring Ted talk by him on the same subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJCTAXb_BWs&t=34s

Anupam Mishra found out that there were more than six hundred big or small water bodies in Delhi around the mid nineteenth century. Most of them have disappeared as they were encroached upon in the name of development and deliberately filled with construction waste. What are left are just names like Tal Katora (a pond like a bowl), Dhoula Kuan (corrupt form of Dhawal Kuan meaning a well which has sparkling water) or Lal Kuan, etc. Well known historian, academician and filmmaker, Suhail Hashmi also points out the worsening condition of water sources. He says that over the last one hundred and thirty years, all the tributaries of Yamuna that carried fresh water once have now become its largest pollutants. (For reference, see the link: https://thewire.in/urban/is-the-yamuna-river-really-delhis-dying-lifeline)

An inspiring teacher can lead students to take up some interesting projects for exploring the state of water bodies in their locality. For this, students can take up heritage walks, conduct interviews with elders, do some internet research, document the present state by taking pictures and chalk out plan of action or prepare a memorandum to be submitted to the concerned department.