Guest Blog by: Nirmala Gowda
Diverting sewage and desilting are cornerstones of all lake rejuvenation today. Some important questions loom large. Doesn’t this push the problem downstream to the next water body? The lake filled with sewage and other questionable effluents is a problem for residents around the lake. Quite understandable so: The Mosquitoes, the intolerable stench, garbage piling up along with the recklessly growing vegetation. So, sewage gets diverted and garbage get thrown in someone else’s backyard. This apparently, is called Nimbyism. Continue reading “Brewing Farmer Crisis in heavily polluted, frothing Byramangala Tank Region”
Blessings, like disasters, are complicated. Blessings come with a lot of attachments. And if you cannot manage them, you could invite disasters.
India is a blessed country in so many ways as far as water endowment is concerned. Our monsoons, rivers, aquifers, the Himalayas, the rich traditional techniques and management systems, to name a few. But the impacts of accumulated mismanagement over the last several decades are now coming out in the form of crisis in multiple ways. Continue reading “India’s Water Management Crisis”
The Urban Water footprint in India is increasing in multiple ways. Rapid Urbanisation predicted by experts is just unfolding. Per Capita Demands are going up.
The City water managers are looking at big storages for dependable source of water, such big storages are necessarily far off from the cities. Cities are also generating sewage equal to 80% of the water they consume. Such storages created behind Big Dams have huge social, environmental impacts, besides massive economic costs and increased disaster risks. There is competition for water allocation from such sources, either existing, under construction or to be constructed. Such allocations for long distance cities thus creates conflicts, and potential disruption for cities, like the ones Delhi frequently faces, including in Summer of 2018. Continue reading “India’s water unsmart cities operate in policy vacuum”
“If you love Shimla, please do not visit” is one of the viral messages in social media this season, encapsulating the water crisis in the hill city this summer. The current round of severe water crisis in Shimla possibly had some roots in what happened here in Dec 2015-March 2016. In winter of 2015, Shimla faced severe water quality issue[i], out break of hepatitis lead to huge reduction in water use in Shimla from Ashwini Khad. Thousands suffered from the outbreak and dozens of people died. The poorly functioning Malyana Sewage Treatment Plant, was releasing the effluent in the same Ashwini Khud from where the Hill city was taking a significant part of water. That water supply was then reduced, but nothing has been done to improve the situation. The Himachal Pradesh Chief Secretary has also told media[ii] that water available from Giri and Gumma streams have hugely reduced currently. Continue reading “Shimla water crisis: How smart are we getting?”
In the conference, “Dialogue on Urban Rivers of Maharashtra”, experts on water and rivers from all over the country strongly expressed their views and unanimously agreed that, “Pune River Front Development Project is certainly going to cause a disaster.” The conference also underlined the need for and decided to work for Urban Water Policy for Maharashtra and India.
The conference was jointly organised on 20 and 21st April at YASHADA by Indian National Trust for Art Culture and Heritage (INTACH – Pune Chapter) and South Asian Network for Rivers Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP). Experts from Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and various parts of Maharashtra attended the conference. Continue reading “India Urgently Needs Urban Water Policy: River Front Development Kills the Rivers”
The health and future of our country is critically dependent on the health of our rivers. To compromise upon our rivers’ health is to endanger our own existence and future. Most of the urban rivers in Maharashtra are in poor state affected by problems like pollution, with little or no biodiversity, little or no flow during most of the year, encroachment, dumping of waste, concretization and sometimes even mining. Water pollution from Urban Industrial effluents is a serious problem for the river, floodplain as well as ground water. With unplanned development, as the floodplains and riverbeds are being encroached, we are experiencing increased intensity and frequency of floods and flash floods. This can lead to an increasing possibility of water scarcity, depletion of groundwater levels and drought in spite of rains. Continue reading “Pune Dialogue on Urban Rivers of Maharashtra on April 20-21, 2018”
“I swam in the Barton Springs 20 years back. Austin saw explosive growth in these years and is one of the fastest growing cities in the US currently. I can still swim in the Barton Springs. I think this is the single biggest contribution of the Watershed Protection Department.”-Denise Delaney, Environment Program Coordinator, Watershed Protection Department, Austin, Texas.
When I came into Austin, the state Capital of Texas, Indian rivers were firmly on the mind. Pune River Restoration Plan was kicking up. The legal battle against a road inside the Pune riverbed was getting a favourable order from NGT. People of Delhi were fighting their long-drawn battle for protecting the floodplains of Yamuna. A huge People’s rally was held in Mumbai to protect the Dahisar River, which to some would appear beyond redemption. Bangalore Lakes were on fire again. People are looking for solutions, but transparent responsive governance around rivers seems like the biggest missing piece in the puzzle. Continue reading “Watershed Protection in Austin: Governance structures we can learn from”
While more than allocated and more than enough water supply from Khadakwasla Project Complex steals the water supply show in Pune, water below the ground remains pretty much out of sight and out of mind for Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and everyone else. Roughly estimated use close to one thousand million cubic feet (TMC) remains not just ungoverned but completely unacknowledged. Though groundwater use forms an important component of non-potable water use in the city total quantity of the groundwater extracted remains unassessed. Drilling of borewells has been going on unregulated and groundwater level has been falling at the rate of quarter of a meter per annum. Neither PMC nor any other State agencies like Maharashtra Water Resources Regulatory Authority (MWRRA functioning as State Groundwater Authority) or Groundwater Survey and Development Agency (GSDA) is governing the resource and have taken any concrete steps for its conservation. Continue reading “Groundwater of Pune: An Over-exploited and ungoverned lifeline”
Above: Dying rivers, as they leave Pune Photo: Parineeta Dandekar
In May, decision of Pune’s Guardian Minister and head of canal committee of releasing 1 TMC (thousand million cubic feet) water from Khadakwasla Dam to downstream regions of Daund and Indapur saw huge protests from the city’s political parties and civic administration. Ensuring that Pune suffers no further water cut, even when downstream regions face historic drought, seems to have become the Mayor’s crusade. Keeping urban areas insulated and away from a terrible water crisis has its own major equity issues.
Pune is a water surplus city in upper riparian region of Krishna Basin. In a report “Reimagining Pune: Mission Smart City” submitted to Urban Development Department by Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), it is admitted that Pune has water availability of 219 lpcd (liters per capita per day). Even so, the city has been much reluctant to share its water with downstream villages. it has seen barely 20% water cuts since last October.
While discussions and debates about drought revolve around sugarcane, industries, rural water use, irrigation management etc, etc., the growing, unjustified footprint of urban areas generally is left scot free and Pune is a classic example if this.
Here, we take a brief look at PMC’s water supply approach with its monomaniacal supply-side focus. While sourcing much more water than allocated from four upstream dams, PMC has been shirking from its responsibility of treating waste water before releasing it for the downstream. PMC has taken the upstream dams for granted and is planning for expansion of water supply system with 24×7 water supply in near future, relying on more water from these dams. Continue reading “Consume more, Pollute more, Pay less, Ask for more Dams: Pune City’s water policy”
In city after city wetlands are being built over, for houses, markets and offices to meet the demands of an increasing urban population. As agriculture is being rendered unviable because of soaring costs of inputs, declining prices of farm products, lack of water arising from water diversions and drought conditions and low support prices, there is increasing scale of urban migration. Availability of cheap, migrant labour alongwith the government’s policies to invite investment in the manufacturing sector, opening up of more sectors for foreign direct investment and weakening of labour laws have led to ‘development’ of many suburbs into industrial corridors, manufacturing hubs and economic zones. This suburban expansion has translated into a take over of wetlands which, until recently, were tilled by farmers or were the abode of birds or covered by mangroves. The development of the suburb is usually accompanied by a property boom in the new area which leads to complete destruction of the local ecology and construction of offices, residential complexes, shopping malls, educational institutions, parking spaces and other infrastructure for the urban elite and middle class.
Continue reading “Urban Wetlands and Floods”