One big problem in India is that everybody thinks they are environmentalists just because they read a newspaper article or they saw something on the television for two minutes. Right now, we are obsessed about pollution because America and Europe talk about pollution. We have this ailment that whatever is said in Europe or America, Indians want to repeat. This has become fashionable. This is a huge problem with the English speaking people in this country. Whether it is a journalist or even a so-called environmental scientist, it is so difficult to get even one simple point across, because Europe and America are dancing in their heads all the time.
Fundamentally, we have a misunderstanding that a river is a source of water. No. A river, pond or lake in this country is not a source of water. There is only one source of water, which is monsoon rain. Rivers, ponds, lakes and wells are all destinations for the water, not the source.
Pollution is not the real problem. We must understand that if sewage water stops going into the rivers, most rivers will not flow. Take Yamuna for example. Ninety percent of the water there is sewage water. If you stop all the sewage water, there will be no Yamuna.
The realities of a tropical nation are very different from a nation which has temperate climate. For the latitude in which we are and the kind of land we have, it is very different. Fundamentally, we have a misunderstanding that a river is a source of water. No. A river, pond or lake in this country is not a source of water. There is only one source of water, which is monsoon rain. Rivers, ponds, lakes and wells are all destinations for the water, not the source.
The monsoon rains every year shed around 3.6 to 4 trillion tons of water, approximately, on this land. When this was a lush rain-forest or a tropical forest, we held a large part of it in the land as groundwater and let it out slowly, so rivers flowed. In the last hundred years, there has been no significant dip in the volume of water that the monsoons are shedding on the subcontinent. But all the rivers on an average have depleted over forty percent. Krishna has depleted over sixty percent. Narmada has depleted over fifty-five percent. Ganga has depleted over forty percent.