Thar Desert, the 9th largest subtropical desert of the world, is spread over an area of some 200,000 square kilometres between India and Pakistan. On the Indian side it is called the Rajhistan or the Great Indian Desert, while in Pakistan it is known as Thar, mostly located in the Sind province and partly in the southern Punjab province, where the Cholistan Desert joins hands with the Thar. Thar in local language simply means “the desert.” The desert mostly consists of large barren tracts of sand dunes covered with thorny bushes.
Like all other deserts, water is extremely scarce and hard to find, especially the potable drinking water. When it rains, the rain water gets collected in small low lying bowl shaped ponds called the “tobas” where men and animals drink together. There are no alternatives as wells digging is not possible. Even if there is a success, the water is so brackish and salty that it cannot be consumed for drinking purposes. Due to the nature of earth with loose sand, deep wells are not possible as the earth gives in during digging and sometimes costs the life of the well diggers. Even if there is a success that brings sweet water, the well soon dries up. For this reason, there are no permanent settlements in the Thar and people roam the desert like nomads and make a temporary abode around a water source till it dries up too.
Potable drinking water scarcity makes living extremely difficult. Due to its almost non-existence, it gives rise to diseases and many disorders for which no cure is available as a semblance of medical aid is only available in larger towns miles away.
It is a pity that while a segment of our population is devoid of this natural gift, we in cities waste water at leisure. While taking showers, we keep the shower running while we soap and shampoo. We keep the tap running in our kitchens while we wash the dishes. We drink the half of the glass and throw the rest in the wash basin. This is criminal and we are doing it at the cost of those who do not have any access to it. It is strange that while more people around the world have cellular phones, more than 2.5 billion have no access to toilet and some one billion without any access to safe drinking water.
The bloggers from around the world join hand today to raise the awareness about access to safe and clean drinking water for almost a billion people around the world, and hope from those reading their posts to extend their cooperation in the noble cause.
Om Parkash Pragani
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