The recent puja conducted by the Port Blair Municipal Council (PBMC) at Dhanikhari Dam to bring rain has left many Islanders feeling disheartened. Voters who elected the councillors expect practical measures on the ground to address Port Blair city’s water crisis rather than relying on traditional rituals.
While we recognize the significance of invoking divine blessings to bring rainfall, relying solely on such rituals to deal with the severe water shortage faced by the public is irrational. In the last decade, the PBMC has not undertaken any significant projects to ensure adequate water availability for the municipal region, in contrast to many other cities that have established substantial seawater desalination plants.
It is essential for the PBMC to be proactive in addressing the water scarcity problem by digging more wells or constructing ponds to collect rainwater for the dry season, rather than relying on traditional rituals.
In addition, water wastage from PBMC pipelines is a major concern that needs immediate attention. Unconfirmed reports suggest that nearly 15 – 20% of water from the PBMC pipelines is lost due to leakages, which is a substantial amount. The PBMC must be transparent about the actual percentage of water wastage and take corrective measures to repair leaks and encourage water conservation practices.
Across the world many civilizations follow various rain calling rituals. Who knows tomorrow PBMC may go for other rituals too in case rain is delayed, such as the Rain Dance of the Native American Plains Tribes; The Varuna Yajna Ritual; The Frog Dance of the Australian Aboriginal People; The Chanting of the Monks; The Vodou Rain Dance of the Haitian People and The Mayan ChacChac Ritual.
While there is nothing wrong with conducting puja, it is essential for the councillors to first establish basic infrastructure for water conservation and management. The PBMC must concentrate on establishing a sustainable and efficient water management system that caters to the needs of the region’s citizens.
Port Blairians urge the PBMC to take immediate and concrete steps to ensure that they have access to adequate water throughout the year, prioritizing the development of a sustainable and efficient water management system. While traditional beliefs and practices are respected and appreciated, it is time for the PBMC to adopt a more pragmatic approach to address the water scarcity problem.
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