Why Chennai water crisis should matter to everyone

By Satyavati Berera, Chief Operating Officer, PwC India

It is really no longer about what we can do, it is now a matter of what we should and need to do

For the last few days, news about one of our major cities Chennai running out of water has appeared in the media. Not only the Indian media, even the global news channels have covered the story extensively and Leonardo DiCaprio’s tweet made it an even bigger one.

Closer home, it should really make us pause and think. Chennai, afterall, is one of our biggest cities and it has run out of water with no immediate solution in sight. How many other cities in India are facing that fate in the near future? In a recent report, Niti Aayog says that Chennai is one of the 21 Indian cities that would run out of groundwater by 2020! This fact startled me. That’s just a year away and yet, when most of us read the story, we would have passed it over because we think it doesn’t affect us. It does.

It is really no longer about what we can do, it is now a matter of what we should and need to do. Whatever small or big steps we can take, we must. At home for example, some of us have consciously started harvesting rain water, recycling water as much as possible and being more conscious of how much water we use for daily activities and how. In our offices too, we replaced single-use plastic water bottles with glass bottles, changed normal lights to LED lamps to bring down our electricity consumption and continue to organise various interventions like tree planting and waste management through our PwC India Foundation.

When I look around, I am really heartened to see that our children are so well informed and concerned about these environmental issues. This year when we met for a family gathering to celebrate Holi, some of the younger family members had decided that we would not use water to play Holi. While some elders scoffed at the idea, but the children maintained their stance and eventually we celebrated a dry Holi. Coming to think of it, what seems like a small step actually helped save so much water and it was still just as much fun.

In the end, I will share with you something that Barack Obama said and resonates with me immensely, "We are the first generation to feel the effect of climate change and the last generation who can do something about it."

It’s truer now than ever before and we all need to act on it sooner than later. How do you do your bit for the environment and what other steps do you think we can take in office in this direction?

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