We, the Citizens
By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer
The latest gaffe made by a senior legislator is revealing. It shows the regressive tendency of those mysterious High Commands to choose blind loyalty over knowledge and ability. It also red-flags the inappropriate decisions taken by such legislators leading to civic unrest and condemnation. The USA never ruled India; Covid is still a growing menace in our country; and that band of righteous moralists should study history before asking our womenfolk to wear saris in the “traditional’ way!
Alternatively, netas suffering spasms of Foot-in-Mouth Disease should appoint savvy PR experts to curb their politically-incorrect burps!
Now, to more serious matters. It is, in fact, the most serious matter affecting our planet, humanity, and our beautiful little state in particular: WATER. Since our current crop of netas seem to place enormous reliance on blind loyalty, and very little on knowledge and reason, here are some elementary lessons that should open their eyes.
All life, as we know it, needs liquid water. The robotic Rovers, which have been landed on the Moon and Mars, were tasked to look for evidence of liquid water on our orbiting satellite and the closest neighbour in our Solar System. (If this is beyond your comprehension, ask your kids: they know that there’s more to life than blind obedience!)
As many children can tell us, most of the water on our Earth is in the oceans. Much of the rest is tied up in snow and ice in the two Polar Regions and in the highest peaks of our great mountain ranges. The greatest of these ranges is our own Himalayas: literally, “The Abodes of Snow”. This is why scientists have now taken to referring to them as The Third Pole. Much of the snow and ice in these Three Poles is locked up in enormous, slow-moving, rivers called glaciers. As our sluggish, white, Himalayan glaciers descend to lower levels in the mountains, they melt into water and transform into some of our greatest rivers: the Ganga, Jamuna, Brahmaputra and Indus. Many of the others, particularly the sacred rivers of Southern India, start as springs. The great Kaveri begins as a little spring in a place called Tala Karveri in the Ghats in Karnataka. These Ghats form the edges of the great central plateau of our land. At their base stretch the coastal plains washed by the ocean.
Water from the ocean evaporates when our earth tilts on its axis towards the sun, and summer warms us and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere. Hot air from the northern plains rises and cold air carrying evaporated moisture from the ocean rushes in. High over north India, huge black clouds of evaporated sea-water start covering the sky. Then these rain-laden clouds hit our High Himalayas. They are stopped. And the South-West Monsoon deluges down on us as snow and rain. If this torrent from the heavens falls on bare earth, it runs off in gushing streams and silt-filled rivers, washing away the fertile earth till it exposes the bare, barren, rock beneath. If unchecked this could create deserts.
But if it falls on forests, a magical thing happens,
The leaves and branches of trees break the force of the lashing rain. Reduced to a gentle shower, the rain wets the forest floor. This floor, carpeted with a thick rug of fallen leaves, further softens the force of the rain and lets it trickle into the soil. There it filters through our porous limestone till it reaches a layer of hard rock. Unable to go deeper into the ground it creates a soaked layer, like a water-sodden sponge. This water-heavy layer is called an aquifer. When aquifers cannot hold any more fresh water, they burst out as springs.
Virtually all of Mussoorie’s water comes from its springs.
Cemented roads, concrete constructions, and felled forests make rainwater and snow run off instead of soaking into the forest floor. Our springs begin to die. According to the Jal Sansthan, Mussoorie’s springs are drying.
The loggers and ’developers’ are murdering Mussoorie. Sadly, ignorant netas help them in their criminal activities. If you don’t bother to know the facts, netaji, then every time you open your mouth, you put your foot into it!
(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 half-hour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who is a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.)