An important aspect of health is the concept of development. People are often surprised that Punjab is experiencing such a large burden of disease, considering it is known to be one of the most prosperous states in India. Recently, it was even named the best state by India Today. This is all surprising to me, especially since evidence suggests that unemployment rates are at its highest, suicide rates are increasing, mental health and substance abuse issues are still prevalent. There has recently been much attention given to the water crisis occuring in Punjab that is leading to the a decrease in the development of the area. At the Spinning Wheel Film Festival, a short film by Navdeep Singh Kandola was screened, "Eco Punjab - Five Rivers Run Dry" which discussed the topic. Punjab relies heavily on agriculture and without an adequate water supply, the whole economic and development of the state is in question. When the development of a community is compromised so is their health. It has been shown through public health efforts that without a clean water supply, illness is inevitable.
According to the World Watch report, the mythic ‘Land of Five Rivers’ will be a desert in 20 years.
Here are some points made in a recent article from SikhSangat news:
The situation is more pitiful in southern districts of state in Malwa region, but situation is fast becoming all most same in entire Punjab. There are news of public demonstrations, road-blocks, dharnas and civil unrest on the issue of water. Students boycotting the classes and even an engineering collage near Malout have forced to declare vacations for three days as there is no water supply to the institute in April 2006. Students at ITI Moga went on strike to protest against non-availability of drinking water.
Water crisis is so pitiable that village Buladewala with population of 6000 is getting water from 2 hand pumps only. Situation is so grim that in urban and sub-urban areas people are forced to install expensive submersible pumps to fetch water. More is the depth more it costs on drilling and then it needs further higher capacity motor to fetch water and more power bill; it is unending process now in most parts of the Punjab.
Even villagers' drinking water from sub-human system has no other option left "It is better to drink unfit water then die of thirst- says Barjinder Singh a farmer from village Malsingh wala.
It is irony that water is selling in that very land which has abundance water resources once and it is more tragic that this commercialization of water is done not by any company it is being commercialized by villagers themselves. This is erosion of value-system related to water. It is new trend that now farmers in Punjab are committing suicide as their tube wells are going dry. As water level is going down drastically day by day the farmers are forced to spend money to get water from new depth. In some of areas this is very common phenomenon. This also adds more debt burden on Punjabi farmers.