Water

World Water Day 2019: Positive Stories from India

As we are celebrating world water day 2019 with the theme[1] ‘Leaving No One Behind’, two United Nation’s reports release in this month have underlined the growing water crisis on the watery planet. While the WaterAid report[2] has raised alarm over rapidly falling groundwater table in South Asia, the sixth edition of ‘Global Environment Outlook’, has warned of growing pollution of freshwater sources[3] and resultant impact on human health.

The situation this year in India indeed warrants wide attention as about 50 per cent of the country is facing drought[4] condition. With rapid fall in groundwater table, wells, tanks and streams are turning dry in most part of central and south Indian states. The farming, riverine and village communities are particularly at the receiving end of compounding water crisis. 

The cities of Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Pune are facing severe water scarcity which will turn worse in the coming days. The Cauvery river in Kodagu, Karnataka has registered unprecedentedly low flow[5]. The water level in Jayakwadi dam in Aurangabad has reached dead storage[6] and Mettur dam has been falling[7] sharply.

In a remedial but surprising move, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike has set up a team of water marshals[8] to act against water tankers charging exorbitantly from residents. Before this, Nasik district administration has formed patrolling squads[9] to protect canal water from theft by farmers. Tribal areas in Siddipet, Telangana are reeling under dearth[10] of potable water. The forest fire[11] and increasing summer has forced wild animals move towards human populated areas.

However, on positive note, many individuals, groups and communities have silently been investing efforts in water conservation works. Many have yielded positive out-comes. Many other institutions including some initiatives at government level have also set an example before others in preserving the water resources and treating and reusing polluted water. Also, there are a number of remarkable water conservation efforts by farming communities across the country. This compilation tries to put together some of the positive water actions in India during the past one year. 

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Dams · DRP News Bulletin

DRP News Bulletin 10 September 2018: NIDM Lecture on Role of Dams in Kerala Floods

National Institute of Disaster Management, Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt of India invited Himanshu Thakkar, Coordinator of SANDRP,  to speak on the topic at IHC on Saturday. At the packed hall with participants that included members from Central Water Commission, National Disaster Management Authority, Embassies, Media and Civil Society,  the speaker explained how unwise and  unaccountable operation of dams, violating all norms, hugely contributed to the proportions of the Kerala flood disaster. Giving the example of Idukki dam, he showed, how if the dam was operated as per rule curve,  its contribution to the floods could have been reduced by over 50%. Similar is the story of other dams in Kerala.

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Dams

WORLD WATER DAY 2018: INDIA’S POSITIVE WATER STORIES

On occasion of World Water Day 2018, SANDRP put together reports of remarkable water conservation work done by individuals, villager community and organizations across the country.

Good that UN report this WWD says[i]: “The efforts by local communities in India to improve water availability have been lauded in a UN report that highlights the importance of finding nature-based solutions to meet global water challenges…. The report notes that reservoirs, irrigation canals and water treatment plants are not the only water management instruments at disposal. It also cited the example of China’s Sponge City which aims to recycle 70 per cent of rainwater.”

Image result for un wwd 2018 nature based water solution report

But the UN report[ii] does not mention that local options should be the top priority and should be exhausted before going for large projects. Unfortunately, Indian water resources establishment’s priority is Large dams and river linking. The UN report also does not say that local systems are bound to be neglected and destroyed in the shadow of large projects and where the governance is top down, unaccountable, non transparent and non participatory.

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Dams

Smart Urban Water options: Recycle waste water

Recycling and reuse of wastewater is an important aspect of water management providing a way to increase available water while also preventing pollution of water bodies by sewage.

An estimated 62,000 million litres per day (MLD) sewage is generated in urban areas across India, according to the Environment Minister, while there is treatment capacity for only 23,277 MLD as of Dec 2015. A CPCB report further reveals that the actual amount of sewage treated stands at 18,883 MLD as only 522 out of 816 sewage treatment plants listed across India were operational, as of March 2015 (even this claim of 81.1% capacity utilization seems HIGHLY exaggerated). Thus, at least 70% of sewage generated in urban India is being dumped in rivers, seas, lakes and wells, polluting water bodies and contaminating fresh water sources. Partially treated or untreated sewage is responsible for large part of the pollution in streams and water bodies. Up to 80% of water bodies could be polluted.

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