Assam floods affecting millions of inhabitants; water supply situation seems uncontrollable. | Potential of India’s water structure scheme estimated at $270Billion. | Around 96% of water consumed in the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority region is ‘virtual’ water, and only 4% is used directly by people. | Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said most of the river water disputes among states were either in courts or in tribunals.

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Potential of India’s water structure scheme estimated at $270 Billion

July 18, 2019

The natural resource finds a mention in the Union budget, in NITI Aayog’s dire predictions of metros running dry and, now, in the calculations of private sector infrastructure players looking to make a buck.

A report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, released on Tuesday, estimates that India needs to pump in $270 billion (about 18.5 trillion) over the next 5-15 years to meet its ambitions of piped water supply to all homes by 2024, cleaning the Ganga, interlinking rivers to redirect water to water-scarce regions and irrigation projects.

Brokerage firm JM Financial says the government’s Nal Se Jal scheme for piped water supply alone will need 6.3 trillion in investment.

In her budget speech, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the Jal Shakti Ministry—which will combine the operations of the erstwhile water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation ministries—will work with states to ensure every rural house gets piped water by 2024.

For context, only 18.3% of rural households have piped water supply today. The budget— 9,150.36 crore for the National Rural Drinking Water Programme—is a 69% increase in allocation from the previous year.

The investment isn’t going to come without the private sector pitching in. In a July 14 interview to the Indian Express, Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the government is examining the public-private partnership model for water infra projects. This includes BOT (build, operate and transfer), DBOT (design, build, operate and transfer) and the hybrid annuity model (HAM), the last of which successfully brought in private capital and ramped up the speed at which highways were built in India.

Sandeep Garg, managing director and CEO, Welspun Enterprises, said in an interview the highway developer has started bidding for water projects as well.

“We’re looking at projects in sewage treatment, bulk water transmission and seawater desalination, either under the HAM or EPC model. We have already participated in bids for projects in sewage treatment and lift irrigation and we expect to win the first project in about three months.”

“While water is a state subject, there is a very strong presence of the Central government in Namami Gange and the river interlinking projects,” an infrastructure consultant told Mint on the condition of anonymity. “With 13 large projects on the anvil, river interlinking is going to be a huge opportunity but there is no clarity as of now on how this is going to be implemented. If these projects are to happen, river interlinking alone will need lakhs of crores in investment.

“What the private sector is more keen on will be smaller projects with a lot less risk involved,” he said.

Source: Livemint

Assam Floods Hit Food And Drinking Water Supply In State, 5.8 Million People Displaced

July 18, 2019

Many thousands in the state are making do with only the most meagre food supplies and dirty water. At least 5.8 million people have been displaced – a million more than on Monday – and some 30 have died in the past two weeks in the tea-growing state of Assam due to the monsoon rains, local government officials said.

“The water level of the Brahmaputra and its tributaries have started showing a rising trend since midday and flowing above the danger mark in at least 10 places,” an Assam Disaster Management Authority official said.

Many thousands in the state are making do with only the most meagre food supplies and dirty water. “We’ve just been surviving on boiled rice for almost seven days now,” said Anamika Das, a mother at Amtola relief camp in Assam’s Lakhimpur district. She said she was having difficulty breastfeeding her baby boy.

Assam has been the worst-affected part of India. Floods have also hit neighbouring Nepal and Bangladesh. At least 153 people have been killed in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. Parts of Pakistan have also seen flooding. Subhas Bania, also sheltering at Amtola, said authorities had made no provision for the supply of drinking water. “We’ve been forced to drink muddy water,” he said.

The rains in north India usually last from early June to October, with the worst of the flooding usually later in the season. Assam is frequently swamped by floods when the Brahmaputra river, which flows down from the Himalayas through northeast India and Bangladesh, sweeps over its banks. Water levels on the river and its major tributaries were beginning to fall, although they were still above the danger mark, the government said. “We’re trying our best to reach out to the affected people in whatever way possible but yes, the situation is indeed very bad,” said Assam’s Social Welfare Minister Pramila Rani Brahma.

The government has yet to assess the impact of the floods that have battered thousands of settlements. Bhabani Das, a village elder in Golaghat district, who has been living under a plastic sheet for four days, said the flood had swept away his home. “Where do we go from here?”

In the state of Bihar, which has also been hit by severe flooding, beginning last week, officials said that flood waters were beginning to recede after killing 33 people. “Things are gradually becoming normal, people are returning home,” Bihar’s Disaster Management Minister Lakshmeshwar Roy said. Water levels in four rivers in Bangladesh, including the Brahmaputra, were above the danger mark, with some northern parts of the low-lying country flooded. Road and railway links between the capital city Dhaka and at least 16 northern and northwest districts had been severed, officials said.

Source: Huffington Post

Weather variations and Climate Change are causing water problems around different Indian States

July 17, 2019

The biggest challenge at the moment is to make drinking water available for everyone as several parts of India are quickly going dry. The monsoon rains are trying to make up for the deficit due to its delay but there are cities still staring at a severe water crisis soon.

Assam flood: Parts of Assam are reeling under flood as heavy rain has continued over the past three days, affecting thousands of people. Close to 145 villages across eight districts of the state are submerged and nearly 63,000 people have been affected due to the deluge.

Hyderabad running out of water: Monsoon is here but there are still several cities that are yet to receive rainfall. The monsoon rains are trying to make up for the deficit due to its delay but there are cities still staring at a severe water crisis soon. Come August end this year and Hyderabad could lose all its drinking water. According to a report in Times of India, reservoirs are not receiving fresh inflows from the scanty rains in the catchment areas because of which Hyderabad is staring at a severe and extreme water crisis.

Bihar Flood: Six north Bihar districts bordering Nepal were declared flood affected by the state disaster management department on Saturday as torrential rains lashed the catchment areas upstream. As the number of rivers flowing above the danger mark increased from five to six. Flood-affected villagers use a boat to take a patient to hospital from their inundated village at Mithan Sharay in Muzaffarpur.

Nagaland flood: An Indian boy wades through a flooded area at Ragailong colony following monsoon rains in Dimapur, in the northeastern Indian state of Nagaland.

Nagpur Drought: Farmers of Vidarbha are fighting with their backs to the wall due to delayed monsoon in the region. The farmers are reeling under an acute scarcity of rain and are desperately waiting for the monsoon rain spells to bless their parched lands.

Bengaluru water crisis: Chennai might not be the only city that could face a water crisis. Neighbouring Karnataka’s capital Bengaluru too could soon face a similar water crisis. In Bengaluru too, the main reason is the below average monsoons. Karnataka has so far registered a 30 percent rain deficit this year so far. And its effects are already showing.

Mumbai: Monsoon has arrived and Mumbai is receiving heavy rainfall. Normal life in the financial capital has been completely disrupted and like every year, this year too water logging is common and so are the resultant traffic jams.

Lucknow heavy rains: Waterlogging in different areas of city after heavy rain Area-Charbagh. The water level of river Gomti is rising even without substantial rain, scene opposite Chattar Manzil (CDRI) in Lucknow.

 Chennai water crisis: Millions of residents in Chennai, India’s sixth biggest city, have no access to clean water due to worst drought in the states in decades.  The lack of rainfall last year and late arrival of monsoon this year has led to city’s major reservoirs running dry.

New Delhi dust storm: For last few days Delhi experienced haze and high pollution level due to dust storm effect from Rajasthan and monsoon rain paused. 

Prayagraj Heavy rain: Heavy rains have created flood-like situation in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj. Due to continuous heavy rain, roads are submerged in water, affecting the traffic.

Source: The Economic Times

Mumbai sees rain but threat still looms

July 16, 2019

Thane district’s Modak Sagar and Tansa lakes, which provide water to Mumbai, are almost full thanks to the monsoon. In light of the fact that these lakes’ dams are close to the overflow mark, seventy-five villages situated along river banks in Palghar and Thane districts have been put on alert.

The Thane Municipal Corporation Regional Disaster Management Cell issued the alert on the basis of information forwarded by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, which operates the Modak Sagar and Tansa dams in Shahapur area.

“Authorities in both the districts have been asked to alert villagers along the shoreline of the Tansa and banks of the Vaitarna river regarding possible flooding,” a civic official said.

According to the corporation’s statement, the present water level of Modak Sagar dam is 160.842 metres, while its overflow level is 163.147 metres. Also, the water level of Tansa is 126.781 metres while its overflow level is 128.62 metres.

However, the villagers of Palghar and Shahpur say the alert is issued every year as the Vaitarna — on which the Modak Sagar lake is located — and the Tansa overflow after the dams are filled due to which water makes its way into the villages.

Prakash Khodaka, a resident of Shahpur said, “When the rivers overflows, water enters the homes of villagers along the rivers — especially in Ganeshpuri and Vijaynagri. The villagers then shift temporarily to interior areas. The high alert has been issued in advance. The Tansa and Modak Sagar dams have reached above 75 per cent of their total capacity and soon will overflow.”

The Shahpur takula is home to three dams that supply Mumbai city with water everyday.

Source: The Star

Chennai Engineers Develop Nozzles To Cut Water Wastage By 95%, Save 35 Litres/Day

July 16, 2019

In Chennai, meanwhile, a group of engineering graduates from the Madras Institute of Technology (MIT), have already built two types of nozzles for your taps through their startup, Earth Fokus. They claim that these devices can help cut down water wastage by a whopping 95 per cent.

Using atomization technology, these nozzles release water from your tap in the form of a mist-like spray. They can reduce water flow from 12 litres a minute to 600 millilitres a minute.
In other words, you can save up to 35 litres of water a day by simply attaching these nozzles to your kitchen or bathroom taps!

Speaking to The Better India, Arun Subramanian, the founder, describes some of the key features. “These products are made out of 100 per cent brass, not plastic. We wanted to use brass because it works better in terms of quality, and water conditions in our country differ from state to state, and even in areas in the same state. We wanted a nozzle that could sustain hard water (like in Chennai or Bengaluru) for a long time,” says Arun.

Earth Fokus is an accidental startup, claims Arun. He didn’t plan on starting this company. During his time in college, he loved inventing things like smart dustbins. After college, he took a six-month break, during which time, the automobile engineer was approached by his neighbour Najeeba Zabeer, an environmentalist.

Najeeba wanted a water-saving device for her kitchen. She told him that she wanted to save more water than was possible with the regular water-saving devices available in the market. Arun then thought of developing a product which could facilitate atomization, a process that engineers had developed in the 1950s.

Explaining the device, he says, “The nozzle atomizes water into fine gentle mist. By doing that, you save more than 95 per cent of the water, depending on the pressure of the released water. If the water pressure is above 1 bar, you’re saving water up to 98 per cent. If the pressure is 2 or 3 bars, the water savings range from 95-97 per cent.”
Normally, about 600 ml of water is used in a single hand wash. According to the United Nations, about 350 ml of this is being wasted. Now consider that this simple nozzle reduces the water used in a single hand wash to only 15 to 20 ml!
After buying a couple of sprinklers online, he understood how they worked, besides figuring that their water-saving feature wasn’t very great.

“Subsequently, I did some research before I started the company. In six months, I developed my first prototype, which I tested with my neighbours. Initially, they asked me to remove it because the product was terrible. So, I had to fine-tune it. After much tweaking and testing, we finally came to a point where we could wash our hands in the fine mist. After showing it to my Professor from MIT, he suggested that I commercialise it. This was two years back. My mentor (Najeeba) eventually gave me some capital, and told me to start the company in 2017,” recalls Arun.
Eventually, he turned his father’s automobile workshop on East Coast Road in Chennai into a facility which housed their laboratory and office.

Developing this product brought out the environmentalist in him. During his research, Arun understood what water scarcity situation was going to look like in the future. Najeeba had predicted the current Chennai water crisis back then.

Making money from selling these nozzles isn’t a bad thing, but that’s not entirely what his venture was about, insists Arun. “You have to make sure the product sells, and people use it. That’s what motivated me to develop it. That’s why I started this work,” he argues.

So, how do these nozzles work? For example, the barber who sprays water on your hair uses the process of automization. The nozzles that Arun created atomize water by converting one drop into a lot of droplets. Under normal water flow, when you wash your hands, only one layer cleans your hand, while other layers just flow into the drain. Even if we try to be stringent, we end up wasting water.

Atomization creates only one layer of water on your hand. Every drop coming out of the tap is directed towards cleaning your hand and only then does it go into the drain. It’s not only about how much water you save, but also how effectively you wash your hands or clean your utensils.

“With a greater surface area coverage, you can get your utensils cleaned in much less time. Moreover, the force of the mist ensures that tough stains are scrubbed efficiently too,” says the company website.
Following successful demonstrations, many corporations in Chennai began approaching Earth Fokus, starting with Cognizant. They were the first ones to install these nozzles before the water scarcity hit Chennai, and thus, prepared for the current crisis.

“One office building can save close to 7,000 litres a day, and the Cognizant facility alone has three buildings. Thus, one facility can save nearly 20,000-21,000 litres a day. In a year, they can achieve savings of up to one crore litres. That’s the difference,” says Arun.

In a statement, Cognizant claimed, “We have installed special nozzles into washbasin taps that help us make the best use of available water. These nozzles reduce the water flow to a mist, bringing down water consumption by 80% and preventing wastage.”

Earth Fokus has two kinds of products—QuaMist and EcoMist. QuaMist is an easy-to-install nozzle with a cap, which takes about 30 seconds to retrofit into your kitchen or bathroom tap. The installation doesn’t need the expertise of a plumber.

“Twisting the cap will allow you to control the flow of water. The cap converts the mist into a high-pressure steady stream while still saving more than 85 per cent water. The spray radius can be manipulated by slowly rotating the cap anti-clockwise,” says the company website.

The second and more popular product is the EcoMist, a nozzle which goes inside the tap. Once installed, it is difficult to remove. According to the company, the EcoMist can help save around 95 per cent of water, giving only 0.5 LPM (litres per minute) compared to the regular discharge of 10 LPM. This, too, is easy to install.

Learning their long-overdue lessons, many major IT companies are buying Earth Fokus’ products. Thus far, they have sold 8,000 EcoMists which cost Rs 550 per piece, besides 1,500-2,000 QuaMists, which sell at Rs 660 apiece. They will soon move into the incubation centre at IIT-Madras. If you want to save water, buying these nozzles for your home isn’t a bad place to start.

Source: The Better India

Tirupati’s clock ticks away as water starts running out

July 15, 2019

The ticking time bomb is hardly noticed. On the face of it, water scarcity is merely perceived in the form of empty pitchers and women forming queues before water tankers. There is more to the issue than meets the eye. Tirumala-Tirupati is in for a severe shock, as the temple city will run out of water in a month, if the monsoon continues to remain elusive.

At present, the denizens receive water in their taps once in three days. With Kalyani dam reaching the dead storage level, the city’s western parts are also supplied the Telugu Ganga water, which is made available for the eastern and southern parts.

Dwindling fast

Water is currently drawn from the dead storage in Kandaleru reservoir (Nellore district) and pumped into Kailasagiri storage tank near Srikalahasti, from where it is pumped to Tirupati. There is an off-take point near Gudur from where water is also shared to Gudur town, making things worse for Tirupati. Since the Gudur off-take point is nearly 80 km away, laying a full-fledged pipeline to Kailasagiri not only comes at an exorbitant cost, but also does not serve the immediate purpose.

Apart from the requirements of the denizens, it is the arrival of pilgrims that necessitates special attention on dedicated water supply to the city. Water storage in projects atop Tirumala hills is also dwindling fast, leaving no option but to pump water from downhill. The demand for allocation of Srisailam water exclusively for Tirupati, as a special case, has been in the air for quite some time, but never taken forward. Unless the government takes a serious view of the situation, Tirupati is likely to be in deep trouble.

Borewells being dug

On its part, the Municipal Corporation of Tirupati (MCT) has written to the State government, seeking release of additional water from Srisailam and also additional pumping from the Gudur off-take point.

“We are sinking more borewells to address the urgent issue and are keeping our fingers crossed for the monsoon to set in,” MCT Commissioner P.S. Girisha has told The Hindu.

There appears to be no initiative to take forward the Mallimadugu and Balaji reservoir projects. Mallimadugu is almost ready, while the Balaji project is mired in forest clearance hitch.

Source: The Hindu

Nal se Jal’ plan: Water, sanitation may attract Rs 6.3L cr investment in next 5 yrs

July 14, 2019

The investments will be made in the various verticals such as pipes, EPC, water treatment pumps and valves, cement, among others, according to the report.

“Our study of sample projects in water and sanitation and interactions with water-related policy experts indicate per capita investment spending could range around Rs 8,000-9,000 for providing piped water access. This would amount to the spending of at least Rs 5.6 trillion-6.3 trillion over FY20-25, and would be almost double of the spending on water and sanitation over FY14-19,” the report said.

It further said that there are wide variations in the estimated investments across the states and will depend on the quantity of available drinking water, quality of water for drinking purposes, geography and terrain. The cost varied from Rs 18,000 in the hilly state of Uttarakhand to Rs 3,000 in Karnataka.
Besides, east and central states would account for the bulk of investment in the piped drinking water project, the report noted.

In the budget, the Jal Shakti Ministry, which is executing the government’s mission to provide clean and piped drinking water to every household in the country, has earmarked Rs 28,261.59 crore for the scheme. 

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and Ministry of Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation have been merged into the Jal Shakti Ministry in the second term of the Narendra Modi government.

Source: Economic Times

Mumbai’s water stock rises by 6% in one day

July 12, 2019

The total stock in the seven lakes that cater to Mumbai’s water requirement shot up by almost 6% in a single day. On Thursday, the total water quantum stood at 5.47 lakh million litres or 37.8% of the required level as compared to 4.67 lakh million litres (32.3%) the previous day.

Civic officials are, however, not keen on withdrawing the 10% water cut as the total quantum of water stock is still less compared to the last two years-in 2018, the total water stock had touched 5.8 lakh million litres (40.13%) on July 11, and in 2017, it stood at 6.95 lakh million litres (48.06%) on the same day. The seven lakes need to have 14.47 lakh million litres of water by October 1.

In the 12-hour period ending Thursday 8.30pm, the IMD Colaba observatory recorded 3.8mm of rainfall and the IMD Santacruz observatory 2.6mm. The IMD has forecast a few spells of rain with heavy showers at some isolated spots for Friday. Tulsi and Vihar lakes, that are located within the city limits, recorded marginal rainfall on Thursday as compared to the bigger lakes in the nearby Thane and Shahapurdistricts. In the 24 hours between July 10-11, Bhatsa recorded 179mm rainfall, Upper Vaitarna 175mm, Middle Vaitarna 159mm, Modak Sagar 126mm and Tansa 101mm, while Tulsi recorded 87mm rainfall and Vihar 25mm.

Source: Times of India

First 50-Wagon Train Carrying Water For Chennai Arrives In Parched City

July 12, 2019

Based on slots available for movement of these trains the capacity could go up,” said a railway official.

Southern Railways will charge Chennai Metro Water Rs.7.5 lakh for each trip. The Tamil Nadu government has allotted Rs. 65 crore for this project.

Officials say the trains took around five hours to reach Chennai’s Villivakkam, 220 km away, from where water is being pumped to the Kilpauk Water Works, the pumping station that distributes water to localities in the city.

However, the water supply by train would not increase supply to Chennai. It will only ease the pressure on the state government to ensure a minimum supply of 525 million litres to residents against the requirement of 830 million litres a day.

A 3.5-km-long pipeline was laid connecting the Jolarpet railway station with a pumping house. A trial run of the supply line was carried out on Wednesday.

Around 100 pipes installed near the railway tracks would be used to supply 2.5 million litres of water from all the wagons to a treatment plant, said an official of Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, news agency PTI reported.

After treatment it would be sent for distribution. This arrangement has been made for the next six months until the (advent of the) north-east monsoon,” PTI quoted the official as saying.

Blaming four parched drinking water reservoirs outside Chennai due to inadequate monsoon last year, Chennai Metro Water has cut piped water supply by 40 per cent. In many areas, residents don’t get piped water at all.

Chennai Metro Water has deployed 900 tankers for street supply. Many families say they get five pots of water daily from the tankers. Private water tankers have doubled the price since April. The Madras High Court has criticised the Tamil Nadu government for not doing enough.

Chennai is one of the 21 Indian cities that the government think tank NITI Aayog has said would run out of water by 2021.

Source: NDTV

Darjeeling: why is there rain but no water?

July 9, 2019

At the heart of Darjeeling’s thirst lie several questions. Why is it that Darjeeling, which is among the highest rainfall receiving regions in the country, has endured a water crisis for over three decades? Why is it that in spite of the myriad attempts made by several governments, the people of Darjeeling continue to depend on non-municipal sources of water for their daily life? If water is available, why can’t people drink it?

It is this question that, Rinan Shah, a PhD researcher working in Darjeeling with the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment hopes to answer. “Darjeeling receives among the highest rainfalls in the country, it is comparable to the Western Ghats. But that is one aspect, even if aspects such as climate change or the growth of population are making things worse, the crisis has existed. These factors are making an existing problem worse,” she said.

The Eastern Himalayan Region (EHR), of which Darjeeling is a part, is one of the highest rainfall receiving region nationally and has among the highest per capita and per hectare “availability of water”. The issue of water scarcity has typically been viewed through a narrow paradigm – a shortage viewed as physical, economic or institutional scarcity.

But Shah argues that the crisis is not simply a paradox, but a “conundrum” and the result of several factors, ranging from political differences between the Left-led and then TMC-led Bengal government and the regional institutions at Darjeeling to insufficient investments.

“It is important to look at how the state is providing water. Are you (the state) even working towards getting water for everyone? What is the process? Which are the institutions involved?” she added.

Shah points out that governmental responses to address Darjeeling’s crippling water crisis have primarily been “high cost”, “high energy”, engineering solutions and not those that are more local.

“The average person in Darjeeling consumes around 30 – 40 litres per day…even in rural parts of India, this is several times higher,” she said, adding that this led to communities not fully understanding the extent of their disenfranchisement.

“Instead, there is an idea that we should make do with whatever water we have. But if you are depending on two or three sources for water, and if those were to dry up then what?” she added.

On the face of it, a centralised formal water supply exists in Darjeeling town from municipal sources. But, quite simply, the administration isn’t able to meet the water requirements of the communities living in the town. The result: water scarcity is countered from different informal sources, ranging from water tankers to springs. “Right now, the focus is on understanding the nature and extent of the problem. If it is not understood properly, it doesn’t matter…many proposals have been made, and the government has given money multiple times,” she added.

A review of the different proposals made by the Centre and the state government indicate a pattern: a focus on augmenting the water supply and providing engineering solution. “But the reality is that a lot of the work that needs to be done by the government is done by the common people of Darjeeling,” said an official of the state administration, who didn’t wish to be named.

The official admitted, “Even when it comes to public health, issues related to water there are different groups which take the initiative.”

In an article, published in the Official Journal of the World Water Council, Shah drew a parallel between Darjeeling’s emphasis on engineering solutions to the global experience and wrote, “Success rates of such augmentations have been low and have not been enough to close the gap between increasing water demands and augmented supply. Low success rates show the need to look at aspects of both harnessing and supplying water. An acknowledgement of natural, social and traditional knowledge is needed to provide better solutions and water rights and, in this case, existing systems such as springs and the array of private water suppliers should not be left out.”

Source: News18

In parched Chennai, residents shell out fortune for water

July 9, 2019

Rampant unplanned development, deficient monsoon last year coupled with inadequate urban planning has brought Chennai to its knees.

In the small hours, bicycles and push carts can be seen lugging water in jerricans, and by 7 am government and private tankers are busy supplying water to neighbourhoods across the city.

People rush to fill their vessels from a water tanker following acute water shortage, in Chennai. PTI

At 4.30 am — at least an hour and 15 minutes before daybreak — it’s already rush hour in KK Nagar, a working class neighbourhood in Chennai. Local residents can be seen jostling for space in a serpentine queue leading up to a water tanker. KK Nagar’s 300-odd families may go without a drop of water should they fail to stand in the queue. The state government-run facility is available every alternative day, and the timing of the supply is also erratic.

Kesar Basha, a KK Nagar resident, describes his water woes. “One person has to carry minimum seven pots of water. Most days, a section of the neighbourhood goes without water because the supply isn’t enough for all of us. I’m incurring severe financial loss because I haven’t been able to go to work on time. The state government needs to take immediate action to resolve the crisis,” he says.

Zahura Begum, a resident of Royapettah, too, blames the state government for their pitiable state of affairs. “The tankers are supplying water at an exorbitant price. We are spending Rs 300 a month on our water bills. Our monthly expenses on water have gone up so much that we can no longer afford two square meals a day,” she says.

Chennai’s water crisis is playing out in the middle class neighbourhood of T Nagar as well, albeit on a different scale. The arrival of a private tanker, carrying 12,000 litres of water, to T Nagar is greeted with relief. The state government-run tankers arrive rarely once in 10 days, but the cost is far cheaper at around Rs 800 compared to private ones that charge around Rs 5,000. At T Nagar, the availability of water for daily life may not still be a struggle, but a severe impact is being felt during functions and special occasions.

B Chandrashekar, a resident of T Nagar, says: “Water is our first priority. My son is getting married this week, and I’ve been flooded by calls from my relatives, whether there would be enough water or not.”

Water, or the lack of it, has proven to be the great leveller in Chennai. The tony Boat Club Avenue is lined up with private tankers every morning. Local residents — many of the city’s wealthiest industrialists — fork out as much as Rs 12,000 per private tanker. The rich may be tiding over the crisis, but its tell-take signs are hard to miss.

P Rajavel, who drives a private tanker that supplies water to Boat Club Avenue, says people like him are “at the receiving end because it’s humanly impossible to deliver 24,000 litres on time. We are often roughed up by angry locals, if we fail to meet the delivery deadline”.

Chennai, a port city and an industrial and information technology hub, relies mostly on surface water as rain-fed water bodies are its lifeline. But, this summer all its four reservoirs have run dry. To make matters worse, the Chembarambakkam reservoir has only 1 million cubic feet of water, or 0.027 per cent of its normal storage capacity. Experts say de-silting of the four reservoirs is the need of the hour.

Jayaram Venkatesan, a social activist and convener of Arappor Iyakkam, a people’s movement that works towards building a just and equitable society, says, “Reservoirs have run dry because of rampant encroachment. Consequently, when it rains, the maximum amount of water doesn’t flow into these water bodies, but spills on the streets and is directly diverted into the sea.

In parched Chennai, some residents are putting up a brave fight. They have turned to rainwater harvesting with water canals on terraces and along boundary walls of their apartment blocks. These channelise rainwater to local wells, which helps recharge the groundwater. Their innovative bid has ensured that many of them aren’t dependent on water tankers for their daily chores.

Senthilvel, a resident of Abhiramapuram, says, “Rainwater harvesting is the key for our sustenance during summer.” V Pitchumani, a resident of Alwarpet, agrees. “Our housing society isn’t dependent on water tankers. We use ground water in all the 24 flats, and have requested tenants and owners not to waste water and recycle it.”

But, truth be told, there has been a massive depletion of ground water levels in Chennai because of deficient monsoon last year and also an excessive dependence on deep bore wells that have accentuated the crisis. Monsoon hits Chennai only in October. Hence, the crisis is likely to prolong for another few months. The state government is set to unveil a third de-siltation plant, and is tapping new farm wells — theses measures may be too little and too less for a parched Chennai as it expectantly waits for the monsoon.

Source: Firstpost

Every household in India to get water supply by 2024 under ‘Jal Jeevan’ Mission

July 5, 2019

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced in her maiden budget speech that the newly set up Jal Shakti Ministry will work with states to ensure that every rural house gets water by 2024 under the Jal Jeevan Mission. Her pledge of “har ghar jal”  got massive applause at the Lok Sabha this morning. This promise came soon after her promise that every single rural family, except those unwilling to take connection, will get an electricity and LPG connection by 2022.

Of course, pre-Budget speculation was rife that Sitharaman would focus on ‘jal’  or water to bring smiles to rural India through the Modi 2.0 government’s flagship Nal se Jal scheme that aims to provide piped water supply for every household. The scheme comes under the ambit of the Jal Shakti Ministry, which has merged the ministries of water resources, river development and Ganga Rejuvenation with the Drinking Water and Sanitation portfolio. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat took charge of this new ministry on May 31.

The Jal Shakti Ministry has been set up at a time when a heat wave is currently sweeping north India and the delayed monsoon has delivered 38 per cent lower-than normal rainfall since the start of the season on June 1. The future looks far more dire. By 2020, India will be formally categorized as a “water stressed” country, one where per capita availability of water is less than 1,000 cubic metres or less. A June 2018 Niti Ayog report grimly forecasts water demand will be twice the present supply and India could lose up to 6 per cent of its GDP.

So the new ministry – which also take on issues ranging from the byzantine Namami Gange project and the controversial river linkage programme to the national mission on irrigation for providing water to every field – has its work cut out.

Source: Business Insider

Swachh Bharat Mission 2.0 to focus on rural solid waste management

July 5, 2019

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech on July 5 announced the government’s plans to scale up Swachh Bharat Mission to a new level through sustainable solid waste management in every village. The government intends to ensure 100 percent disposal of liquid waste, with an emphasis on faecal sludge management and reuse of wastewater.

Sitharaman also stated 9.6 crore toilets have been constructed, and more than 6.9 lakh villages open-defecation free since the launch of the scheme close to five years ago. She also announced that a Rashtriya Swachhta Kendra would be inaugurated at Raj Ghat on October 2, 2019.

To accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put focus on sanitation, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on October 02, 2014. With two Sub-Missions, the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban), the initiative aims to achieve Swachh Bharat by 2019, as a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.

In rural India, this would mean improving the levels of cleanliness through solid and liquid waste management activities and making villages open defecation free (ODF), clean and sanitised.

Under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Grameen), the government has declared that over 5,66,248 villages or 94.27 percent of all villages in India as open defecation-free. The National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey (NARSS) 2017-18, which was conducted by an independent verification agency supported by the World Bank, had confirmed that rural toilet usage in India had reached 93.4 percent. The NARSS team had visited over 90,000 households across more than 6,000 villages before releasing their findings.

The government’s plans include the use of latest technologies to transform waste to energy and wealth in a major mission.

Source: Money control

Proposal for interlinking of rivers is erroneous: Mihir Shah

July 4, 2019

Mihir Shah, erstwhile member of the Planning Commission and head of several committees on water reforms, says political compulsions may push the new government to do something substantial on water. Excerpts from an interview:

A committee helmed by you had made a slew of proposals to reform India’s water policy in 2016, including regulation on groundwater use. Is there any hope for their implementation?

After a recent interaction at the new Jal Shakti ministry, I feel renewed hope that the recommendations of my committee will indeed see the light of day. I think the crisis on the ground is providing a very useful wake-up call for the government. The creation of the Jal Shakti ministry is itself a positive first step forward in the direction of overcoming hydro-schizophrenia that has beset policymaking on water in India for so long.

Piped drinking water for all by 2024 is a flagship promise of the present government. What do you make of the scheme?

I think the scheme is a response to the need to the hour. But it can be a success only if certain preconditions are met. One, clear understanding of the aquifers to be used for water supply. Two, a user-friendly communication of this information to the primary stakeholders. Three, ensuring that drinking water and irrigation are planned for together—history teaches us that sources of drinking water have soon got exhausted whenever the same aquifer is used for irrigation. Four, the entire water supply system is operated and managed by local institutions specifically dedicated to this purpose. These should be led by local women, adequately empowered to do so. They should decide upon tariffs for this water in an open, transparent and collective manner. Only then can these systems become sustainable and overcome historically inherited gender, caste and class inequities.

Should India consider even a limited interlinking of rivers plan as part of this renewed push for water security?

Rivers are not human creations like roads and power lines to be twisted and turned at will. They are living eco-systems that have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years. The proposal for inter-linking of rivers (ILR) is based on a series of erroneous presumptions. In the sub-continent, given the dependence on the monsoon, the periods when rivers have “surplus” water are generally synchronous. And a recent study finds a significant decrease in monsoon rainfall over water “surplus” river basins in India, thus raising questions about the basic presumptions of the ILR project.

What is truly ironic is that, given the topography of India and the way the links are envisaged, they might totally bypass the core dryland areas of central and western India, which are located on elevations of 300 to 1000 metres above mean sea level.

We must also recognise that the ILR could profoundly impact the very integrity of India’s monsoon system. The continuous flow of fresh river water into the sea is what helps maintain a low salinity layer of water with low density in the upper layers of the Bay of Bengal. This is a reason for the maintenance of high sea-surface temperatures (greater than 28 degrees C), which create low-pressure areas and intensify monsoon activity. Rainfall over much of the sub-continent is controlled by this layer of low-salinity water. A disruption in this layer because of massive damming of rivers under the ILR and the resultant reduction in freshwater flows into the sea could have serious long-term consequences for climate and rainfall in the subcontinent, endangering the livelihoods of a vast population.

Source: Livemint

The new plan to solve India’s water crisis

July 4, 2019

As men streak past on bicycles and motorbikes en route to work every morning in the busy, narrow lanes of south Delhi’s Sangam Vihar, 45-year-old Poonam Kumar steps out, bucket in hand. Her day usually begins in a huddle of 20-odd people, all waiting for a Delhi Jal Board water tanker. “On most days, we get just two buckets of water (about 20-25 litres),” she says. In the blistering Delhi heat, that’s supposed to sustain a family of four. And this tanker comes only three times a week.

Delhi is ground zero for the country’s water policy architects. The brand new water ministry—Jal Shakti—is based in the city. The national capital also gets priority access to resources, with only 18% of the city’s households outside the piped water grid (among the best in the country)—still leaving out roughly 200 residential colonies, such as the one Kumar lives in. Despite the many advantages, the degree of water stress in Delhi is indicative of the magnitude of the challenge facing the country. Delhi goes into a tailspin each time canals carrying water from hundreds of kilometres away, in Haryana, go dry.

“Nothing much has changed,” says Avinash Mishra, adviser, water resources, at NITI Aayog, which put out a report in the summer of 2018 that contained a set of dire warnings about the future of the country’s water security. “In most parts of the country, it is business as usual.” With a stalled monsoon finally beginning to spread and even submerge parts of India, including Mumbai, K.J. Sohan, a former mayor of Kochi, says “rainwater harvesting is already being forgotten”.

However, there is one thing significantly different about the summer of 2019. The central government on Monday launched a water conservation drive that will last the entire period of monsoon, targeting over 250 of India’s most water-stressed districts (covering roughly a fourth of the country’s landmass). “The teams are going out now,” says Parameswaran Iyer, secretary, drinking water and sanitation. “They are going to make an assessment in consultation with local officials and set a baseline. The idea is to intensify and accelerate water conservation activity. We have a fluid list of about 1,200 officials. Pretty much one person from every ministry is going,” he adds.

The idea of rainwater harvesting has been discussed forever in Delhi’s policy corridors. It has been made mandatory for every building in the capital to install the rainwater harvesting system at least since 2001. Yet, a Mint Right to Information query last year revealed that a majority of government buildings in Delhi, including important ones like the Supreme Court and NITI Aayog, don’t have rainwater harvesting system. In his Mann Ki Baat radio address on Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said only 8% of rainwater gets saved in the country.

The latest water conservation push may or may not result in lasting change. What is undeniable, however, is that India’s first major climate crisis is already at its doorstep. And it’s in the shape of water.

Dry promises

Perhaps the best indication of the dystopian reality that Chennai had entered this summer can be found in the hand pumps that have come up on the sands of Marina Beach, in the vicinity of the red-and-white lighthouse. Under pressure from residents of the nearby fishing village of Nochikuppam, the Chennai Metro Water Board dug the 15 feet deep borewells last month—without the approval of the state environment department. “The water tastes fine, so we drink it,” says B. Sunitha, who lives in Nochikuppam with her family of five.

The city also recently shut down air-conditioning on its swanky new metro rail trains to save water. Now, the plan is to bring in 10 million litres of water from Jolarpet, about 200km away. The first train load is supposed to come into the city on 7 July. The irony is that the villages which dot the source point of this water train, in many instances, get government water supply only once in 10 days. India’s water ecosystem is full of such ironies. Chennai gets most of its regular water supply from 30km away; Bengaluru relies on piped Cauvery water from 86km away; and Delhi gets its supply from 230km away. Parts of India remain in perpetual drought to keep the taps flowing in these major cities.

That is one of the reasons why the government’s marquee promise of providing piped water for every Indian by 2024 has caused a certain degree of alarm among water activists. Since water is not priced to contain demand, past experience shows that the reservoirs would only go dry quicker once piped water supply expands. “They will buy pipes and put them in every house, but what is the point of the pipe when there is no water,” asks Rajendra Singh, an environmentalist from Alwar who goes by the moniker “waterman of India”.

Restoring water bodies

That is why there is now a growing clamour about the second major common-sense reform—restoring waterbodies, which would stop the reliance on distant water sources. After having spent over 4 trillion on dams and other engineering-heavy solutions which haven’t shown results, Manoj Mishra, convener of the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan, says: “The need is to focus on replenishing our natural dams—the aquifers and catchment areas. Let the rivers run free.”

The failure to preserve natural aquifers and catchments is most evident in the rate of groundwater depletion, which is the only fallback. “There has been an alarming decrease in the groundwater levels in the northern region in the last two decades,” says V.M. Tiwari, director of the Hyderabad-based National Geophysical Research Institute.

By 2009, the region was losing groundwater at a rate of 54 billion cubic metre per year, which is roughly equivalent to all the water stored in the Alaskan glaciers, Tiwari says, adding that it is probably the largest rate of groundwater loss in any comparable-sized region on Earth. “This has only gotten worse since then.” Evidence shows that India’s economic development, in fact, only accelerates water stress—with the percentage of districts with overexploited groundwater levels increasing from three in 1995 to 15 by 2011, according to the Standing Committee on Water Resources.

Since much of that water is guzzled by India’s farms (nearly 90% of freshwater withdrawal each year is by the agriculture sector), there may also have to be a serious reckoning on what India eats and how it is grown. “Agriculture is going to be the key part of the package to set right the mess we are in,” says Amarjit Singh, a former special secretary at the erstwhile ministry of water resources. “If you look at Maharashtra, 60% of the water is used for growing sugar cane when we are getting sugar much cheaper in the international market than in the domestic market. Even in Latur, they grow sugar cane. In the case of rice at least (takes about 3,000 litres to produce a kilogramme of rice), we get about $25 billion as export earnings,” he says.

Ultimately, the problem is that we really do not know what is happening to water, Singh says. “There has to be a proper (annual) audit on water… where is it coming from and where is it going. We should be measuring how many litres we spend growing crops as often as we measure the yield per acre,” he says. “The cropping pattern should be according to the availability of water (in the area),” he adds.

With renewed national attention, many of these pre-existing proposals and solutions may finally gain the attention they deserve, say experts. The Delhi government, for example, rolled out plans this week to create water catchment ponds on the Yamuna floodplains. “A plan for the (city’s) lakes is ready and should be rolled out in the next 12-18 months,” said a Delhi Jal Board official, requesting anonymity.

In conclusion

The key is yearly action prior to the monsoon, rather than the odd major initiative. In Chennai, for example, despite the city’s widely commended push toward making rainwater harvesting mandatory in every building, the absence of its main proponent, erstwhile chief minister J. Jayalalithaa, has led to significant slip back. A recent audit found that 40% of buildings had systems that weren’t really collecting water and most government buildings did not have any such systems, says Sekhar Raghavan of Rain Centre, a non-governmental organisation.

But Avinash Mishra of NITI Aayog insists the difference this time would be a “mission-mode” mindset. “Water will be to this government what toilets were to the previous government,” he says.

Meanwhile, the exodus of Delhi bureaucrats into water-stressed India will begin in a few days. Manish Thakur, a joint secretary in the Union government, is preparing to make his first visit to a district in Rajasthan. “We are hoping for a long-term change,” he says. “The initial focus will be on installing rainwater harvesting systems in group housing societies and every government building. We are building a central dashboard to track progress.”

It won’t be about theory but actionable points, he promises. “It’s not gas. The plan is to restore at least one defunct waterbody in every city and town,” Thakur says. By the end of September, as the southwest monsoon winds down, the tall promise of delivering piped water to every Indian would have met its first real test.

Source: Livemint

Centre working with states to improve water situation: Minister

July 1, 2019

The government aims to reduce the time frame fixed by United Nation for providing tap water to all households in the country from 2030 to 2024, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat informed Rajya Sabha on Monday.

The minister said emphasis is being laid on improving water level in water-stressed districts of the country and steps are being taken to recharge water by treating waste water.

“The government aims to provide tap water to all households by 2024, reducing the time frame from 2030 as per the United Nations Resolution in this regard,” the minister said.

“Till the time the ‘Jal ka Andolan’ turns into a ‘Jan Andolan’ the things would not improve,” he told the house.

He said according to the NITI Aayog’s ‘Strategy for New India @75’, the per-capita water availability has decreased from 1,816 cubic metre in 2001 to 1,544 cubic metre in 2011.

“While water is a state subject, the central government is working with the states to improve the water situation.

“In rural areas, under centrally sponsored National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), the central government provides technical and financial assistance to state for improving the coverage of safe drinking water in rural habitations,” the minister said in the written reply.

Shekhawat said as reported by states on Integrated Management Information System (IMIS) of Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation, out of total 17,25,808 rural habitations, infrastructure for providing safe drinking water as per the existing norms has been created in 13,98,292 rural habitations (81.02 per cent).

“Out of total rural population of 9182.58 lakh, 7001.42 lakh (76.25 per cent) have the infrastructure to provide more than 40 litres per capita per day of safe drinking water,” he said.

He said under the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP), states are empowered to utilise up to 25 per cent of NRDWP funds to mitigate the drinking water crisis in areas in their states by taking water scarcity mitigation measures.

He said in order to sustain drinking water sources, artificial recharge of groundwater and rain water harvesting are being implemented under various schemes like Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).

He said the Ministry of Jal Shakti has been created in Government of India, integrating the erstwhile Ministry of Water Resources River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.

The aim is to integrate water resources management so that the issues relating to water requirement for various sectors viz irrigation, drinking water, sanitation and rejuvenation of the river Ganga etc. are dealt with in a holistic manner under one umbrella.

He said a meeting of state ministers of water resources and water supply was held on June 11 chaired by the Minister of Jal Shakti for a comprehensive review of activities taken up by the states for addressing the concerns arising out of the current situation

The minister said the Prime Minister has personally addressed letters to all Sarpanches (village heads) in the country motivating them to take up water conservation activities like de-silting and cleaning of water bodies, rain water harvesting etc. with people’s participation.

Source: Press Trust of India

Reservoirs are starting to die out, where are heading?

June 28, 2019

The live storage available in India’s 91 reservoirs for the week ended June 27, 2019, was 26.272 BCM (billion cubic metres), which is 16 per cent of total live storage capacity, the Central Water Commission (CWC) reported on June 27.

As compared to last week’s figure of 27.265 BCM, this week’s storage dropped by 3.66 per cent.

Last year, the live storage available in these reservoirs for the corresponding period was 29.612 BCM and the average of the last 10 years’ live storage was 30.708 BCM.

Thus, the live storage available in 91 reservoirs as on June 27 was 89 per cent of the live storage of the corresponding period of last year and 86 per cent of the storage of the average of the last 10 years.

Out of 91 reservoirs, 29 reported more than 80 per cent of normal storage, while 62 reported 80 per cent or below of normal storage. ‘Normal storage’ means average storage of the last 10 years.

All southern states as well as the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat remain to the most severely affected by the water crisis. 57 reservoirs in these areas (27 in western India and 30 in southern) hold less than 40 per cent water.

The water shortage of Andhra Pradesh has risen to worrisome levels at 84 per cent, and similarly in Maharashtra, water deficiency is reported at 77 per cent.


The major rivers in the southern and western zones like the Sabarmati, the rivers of Kutch, Godavari, Cauvery and the west-flowing rivers of southern India are flowing dry, with minimal to no water storage in them, the CWC said.

The Tapi and Krishna are witnessing massive deficits of about 82 and 62 per cent respectively.

Rivers in the eastern states of Jharkhand, Odisha, West Bengal and Tripura do not paint a very positive picture either. The total live storage available in the reservoirs in these states is 2.83 BCM, which is 15 per cent of their total live storage capacity.

On the other hand, the basins of the Indus, Narmada, Mahanadi and neighbouring eastern flowing rivers have witnessed a better than or close to normal storage position.

While the situation in the majority of large reservoirs is very grave, 19 reservoirs have increased storage as compared to last year. Twenty-one others hold storage more than the average of the last ten years.

India has so far received only 92.4 mm rainfall against a normal of 144.3 mm — an overall deficit of 35 per cent.

Source: Down To Earth

British High Commission releases new paper on solid waste Management: strategies under works

June 28, 2019

British High Commission’s approach paper on ‘Solid Waste Management in Hyderabad’, which was released on Friday, made some suggestions to strengthen the existing system of collection and segregation of waste, in alignment with global policies and principles associated with circular economy.

Prepared by Ernst & Young and commissioned by the Foreign and Common Wealth Office of the United Kingdom, the paper launched at the ‘Knowledge Dissemination Workshop’ organised by the British High Commission, recommended a ‘Basic+ level’ of waste segregation at source, which could maximise resource recovery and recycling potential of the material recovered, for reduction of green house gases and reversal of climate change.

The Basic+ level segregation envisaged separation and recovery of dry waste at source, and reduction in cost of transportation, said representatives from Ernst & Young. Though dry resource collection centres exist in the city, they need to be made more effective and more numerous, says the study.

Another recommendation was for GHMC to improve market linkage for recycled products from construction and demolition waste. The study has also suggested that GHMC set up an incubation centre with focus on developing solutions with a suitable partner.

After launching the approach paper, British Deputy High Commissioner Andrew Fleming said the project was part of wider UK-India engagement in urban sector, through a programme ‘Technical Assistance on Waste Management and Circular Economy’. As part of the programme, international experts would be brought to Hyderabad to share best practices through a series of workshops. Director, Municipal Administration, T. K. Sreedevi, explained various initiatives by the Telangana government towards improving sanitation.

Source: Water World

Plugging the gaps in Swachh cities through effective landfill management

June 27, 2019

The Swachh Bharat Mission – Urban (SBM-U), launched on 2nd October 2014 aims at making urban India free from open defecation and achieving 100% scientific management of municipal solid waste in 4,041 statutory towns in the country.

The objectives of the mission are mentioned below: 

  • Elimination of open defecation
  • Eradication of Manual Scavenging
  • Modern and Scientific Municipal Solid Waste Management
  • To effect behavioral change regarding healthy sanitation practices
  • Generate awareness about sanitation and its linkage with public health
  • Capacity Augmentation for ULB’s
  • To create an enabling environment for private sector participation in Capex (capital expenditure) and Opex (operation and maintenance)

The Mission has the following components:

  • Household toilets, including conversion of insanitary latrines into pour-flush latrines;
  • Community toilets
  • Public toilets
  • Solid waste management
  • IEC & Public Awareness
  • Capacity building and Administrative & Office Expenses (A&OE)

The targets set for the Mission, which have to be achieved by 2nd October 2019 include:

  • Construction of 66.42 Lakh individual household toilets (IHHL);
  • Construction of 2.52 lakh community toilet (CT) seats;
  • Construction of 2.56 lakh public toilet (PT) seats; and
  • Achieving 100% door-to-door collection and scientific management of municipal solid waste (MSW).

To ensure a continuous engagement and higher awareness among the citizens, a participatory approach for implementation of the Swachh Bharat Mission is being planned in form of theme-based Cleanliness drives on regular intervals, which are specific to a sector. Theme-based interventions are conducted, targeting core city spaces and areas. Depending upon the specific theme, relevant government departments and entities are engaged to facilitate the implementation of the drives and participation by relevant stakeholders.

Watch more:

Source: Swach Bharat Mission Urban, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

June 27, 2019

The Kochi Corporation plans to step up measures to ensure proper segregation of solid waste and cut down the use of plastic.

“We are monitoring the segregation of solid waste on a daily basis. The Mayor has requested the co-operation of residents’ associations and merchants to minimise the use of plastic,” said Anu R.S., Secretary, Kochi Corporation.

On the deadline fixed by the National Green Tribunal’s State Level Monitoring Committee, Ms. Anu said the last date for submitting tender for road work at the Brahmapuram plant was July 3. The work on arriving at an estimate for laying slab over the leachate drain is progressing, she added.

On the committee’s observation on waste dumping along roads recommended as ‘zero waste roads’, Ms. Anu said the corporation was looking at various options to ensure zero waste along the 10.5-km stretch between Edappally and Thykoodam bridge.

The civic body has sought the support of the Cochin Port Trust for turning the BOT bridge-Alexander Parambithara Road green. Steps have been taken to ensure zero dumping at the four remaining roads as recommended by the committee, she said.

Source: The Hindu

Freshwater discoveries are going a long way along the Atlantic Coast

June 26, 2019

Thousands of years ago, glaciers covered much of the planet. Oceans receded as water froze in massive sheets of ice blanketing the North American continent. As the ice age ended, glaciers melted. Massive river deltas flowed out across the continental shelf. The oceans rose, and fresh water was trapped in sediments below the waves. Discovered while drilling for oil offshore in the 1970s, scientists thought these “isolated” pockets of fresh water were a curiosity. They may instead prove to be a parched world’s newest source of fresh water.

As told in the latest issue of the peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports, scientists from Columbia University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution spent 10 days on a research ship towing electromagnetic sensors from New Jersey to Massachusetts. By measuring the way electromagnetic waves travelled through fresh and saline water, researchers mapped out fresh-water reservoirs for the first time.

It turns out the subterranean pools stretch for at least 50 miles off the US Atlantic coast, containing vast stores of low-salinity groundwater, about twice the volume of Lake Ontario. The deposits begin about 600 ft (183 m) below the seafloor and stretch for hundreds of miles.

“We knew there was fresh water down there in isolated places, but we did not know the extent or geometry,” said lead author Chloe Gustafson, a PhD candidate at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, according to “It could turn out to be an important resource in other parts of the world.”

The size and extent of the freshwater deposits suggest they are also being fed by modern-day runoff from land—and may exist elsewhere with similar topography. The water is not pure terrestrial fresh water, which contains salt concentrations of less than one part per thousand. Near land, the undersea aquifer has concentrations close to pure fresh water. Toward its edges, it may reach 15 parts per thousand (about half that of seawater). That’s still valuable. Desalination plants could easily turn that into drinkable water.

Source: World Economic Forum

Reuse Brew: a new innovation in recycled water

June 26, 2019

Over 2 billion people live in countries experiencing high water stress and about 4 billion people experience severe water scarcity during at least one month of the year. As this situation intensifies, global water technology company Xylem, is working to advance the conversation on sustainable water supply strategies. As part of this effort, Xylem has partnered with Berlin water utility Berliner Wasserbetriebe and the Kompetenzzentrum Wasser Berlin (the Berlin Centre of Competence for Water) to produce “Reuse Brew” – a beer made from purified and treated wastewater. The beer was showcased at the International Water Association (IWA) International Conference on Water Reclamation and Reuse in Berlin, alongside a range of Xylem’s water reuse solutions.

Jens Scheideler, Global Reuse Product Manager at Xylem said, “Through creative partnerships, we are focused on shining a light on global water challenges and the opportunity to address issues like water scarcity with recycled water. The reality is that water scarcity is an issue facing communities in every corner of the world but solutions exist to tackle this challenge.

“Accelerating adoption of reuse technologies requires a combination of smart water policies and education. A survey of California residents commissioned by Xylem found that 87 percent of survey respondents are willing to use recycled water in their daily lives and the majority support public policies to promote the use of recycled water. We must spread the word that it is water quality that counts, not its history,” added Jens Scheideler.

“With the Berlin Reuse Brew, we want to demonstrate that the technical possibilities of turning wastewater into drinking water are almost limitless,” said Ulf Miehe, Kompetenzzentrum Wasser Berlin.

“With additional treatment steps, we are taking wastewater treatment in Berlin to the next level using new, innovative technologies,” added Regina Gnirss, head of research at Berliner Wasserbetriebe, “We will also continue to produce our drinking water sustainably from groundwater, because nature by itself also has immense purifying power. Here in Berlin, we know that water reuse can support the regional water balance, especially during dry periods.”

About the water purification process: In Germany’s sewage treatment plants, there are three, sometimes up to four treatment steps of wastewater. The so-called fourth purification stage is used for the removal of micro pollutants such as medical residues, biocides or other chemicals. The combination of ozone and activated carbon is an established process that Xylem offers in an integrated solution, called the Oxelia process. Ozone oxidizes harmful micro pollutants and kills germs and bacteria. After this, biologically activated carbon filters are used to eliminate substances that are oxidized by the ozone and removed by microorganisms. The water is then of adequate quality to be released back into rivers and lakes.

To achieve drinking water quality, additional treatment is required. After the Oxelia process, the water is passed through a further activated carbon filter, which absorbs substances not removed by ozone or microorganisms. Reverse osmosis (RO) further enhances water quality.

In order to guarantee the highest possible quality and consumer safety, the water undergoes a final treatment stage: the Xylem MiPRO process with ultraviolet (UV) light and hydrogen peroxide. This “Advanced Oxidation Process” (AOP) brings the water to the highest possible purity level.

Source: Water World

Chennai is living in a man-made water crisis

June 26, 2019
Residents don’t have enough water to drink, bathe or wash clothes. People are working from home; malls have closed their bathrooms; and restaurants have shut their doors.

The natural instinct is to blame the situation on climate change and, indeed, the last monsoon’s rains were especially weak. While that’s certainly played a role, however, Chennai’s is largely a man-made disaster – one that more Indian metropolises are soon to suffer no matter the weather.

According to a study by the federal government think tank NITI Aayog, 21 Indian cities will run out of groundwater by next year, including the capital New Delhi and the information technology hub of Bengaluru. Two hundred thousand Indians already die every year because they don’t have a safe water supply, the report said. A shocking 600 million people face “high to extreme” water stress.

That Chennai should have run dry first is instructive. Less than four years ago, the now drought-ridden city was inundated  by devastating floods. Though located on a flood plain, the city had paved over the lakes and wetlands that might have helped the process of recharging the water table. As a result, heavy rains couldn’t percolate into aquifers under the city. Water pooled and surged aboveground. That reduced the resources available to deal with a crisis like this year’s.
Elsewhere, demand is the issue. In theory, India receives enough rain every year to meet the needs of over a billion people. According to the country’s Central Water Commission, it requires at most 3,000 billion cubic meters of water annually and receives 4,000 billion cubic meters of rain.

But too much water is wasted thanks to inefficiency and misuse. The situation is particularly dire in India’s northwest, irrigated by the great rivers that rise in the Himalayas. Indians are taught to revere the “green revolution” of the 1970s, when the northwest became India’s granary thanks to canals and tube wells that pumped out groundwater. That revolution, however, has turned out to be unsustainable. In 2011, 245 billion cubic meters of water were withdrawn for irrigation — a quarter of the total groundwater depletion globally that year.

North-Western states should be growing less water-intensive crops; areas in the east of the country that receive much more plentiful rainfall should take their place as the bread baskets of India. But shifting cultivation patterns around is politically problematic. Farmers in the northwest don’t just expect to continue to grow water-intensive crops, they also want free or subsidized power with which to run the tube wells that pump out their rapidly depleting groundwater.

Climate change activists have long argued that water will be the political flashpoint of the 21st century. Water-stressed India will likely be one of the first places to test that theory. The state of Tamil Nadu complains that it doesn’t receive its fair share of the waters of the Cauvery River; recently, the authority that nominally manages the river accused the government of neighbouring Karnataka of holding onto water that it should have allowed to flow down to the Cauvery delta.
Things might get even testier up north, where more than a billion people depend upon rivers that rise in the Himalayas. Bangladesh and Pakistan feel that India is being stingy with river water. Indian strategists constantly worry that China will divert water from the Himalayan rivers that rise in Tibet to feed the thirst cities in its own north.

The floods in Chennai are a warning. As the world warms, the rains on which India depends have become erratic: They frequently fail to arrive on time, and they fall in a more disparate and unpredictable pattern. The country can no longer afford to waste its dwindling resources.

A rapidly urbanizing and developing India needs to drought-proof its cities and rationalise its farming. Water-harvesting must be a priority, alongside mechanisms for groundwater replenishment. As it is, every summer is hotter and less bearable. If Indians run short of water as well, one of the world’s most populous nations could well become uninhabitable.

Source: Economic Times

Turkey gets a hefty amount from EBRD for Waste Management

June 23, 2019

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is providing a 57.5 million Turkish Lira loan (9 million euros) for waste management. The 200,000-strong population of Çanakkale will benefit from the money for the development of a modern, efficient and sustainable waste management under a private-public partnership scheme in this historical province, the development bank said in a statement. Çanakkale province, which stands on the Dardanelles Strait connecting the Sea of Marmara and the Aegean, is the location of ancient Troy.

The EBRD loan will be extended to a local venture between the French utility SUEZ Group and the Turkish waste management firm ALTAŞ. The two partners have won the international tender to provide waste collection, transportation, recycling and disposal services under 29-year concession in five towns: Çanakkale, Lapseki, Kepez, Çardak and Umurbey. The consortium is contributing 38.3 million liras of its own funds to the project.

The EBRD loan will finance the construction of a mechanical biological treatment plant which combines a sorting facility with biological treatment such as composting and producing energy from waste. The funds will also be used to refurbish a landfill and upgrade a plant that treats leachate, a water-polluting liquid.
The project will help reduce the amount of solid waste sent to landfill, extend the landfill lifetime by 20 years and increase waste recycling, in line with EU standards. The new approach is based on circular economy and will minimise the negative effects of waste on the environment and people.

Nandita Parshad, EBRD Managing Director for Sustainable Infrastructure, said during a visit to
Turkey: “At the EBRD we are strong supporters of public-private partnerships as an effective tool to deliver better services. Together with our partners from SUEZ we aim to demonstrate how effective waste management by private companies can benefit people and the environment.”

With 90 000 people on the five continents, SUEZ is a world leader providing water and waste management solutions. The Group recovers 17 million tons of waste a year, produces 3.9 million tons of secondary raw materials and 7 TWh of local renewable energy. It also secures water resources and wastewater treatment. SUEZ generated total revenues of 17.3 billion euros in 2018.

ALTAŞ provides solid waste management services in the Turkish cities of Izmir, Istanbul, Ankara and Mersin and is also active in the Lebanese capital Beirut. The EBRD is a leading institutional investor in Turkey and has invested over 11 billion euros in 283 projects in the country since 2009. The overwhelming majority of EBRD investments in Turkey are in the private sector. One half of the bank’s portfolio in Turkey constitutes investments that promote sustainable energy and resource use.

Source: Hurriyet Daily News

Relying on neighbourhood aquifers is costing Chennai:

June 17, 2019

Even as Chennai is again in the spotlight for its severe water crisis, an analysis of its civic history reveals that the city has often preyed upon its neighbourhood for meeting its never-ending demand for water.

Groundwater is the lifeline of the city and its neighbouring areas. The official water is sourced from water wells.

Chennai has over 0.42 million wells according to Excreta Matters, 2012, a research by Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment. Of these, only 27,000 are open wells, which extract 150 million litres per day (MLD) of groundwater — with the average rate of extraction at about 400 litres per well per day says the study.

Over and above this, around 66 per cent of households in the city have their own private wells. This has led to a general fall in water levels as well as a decline in average yields per well.

Between 1991 and 2002, groundwater levels fell at a rate of a little less than one metre a year; between 1999 and 2004, the level fell at a faster rate of close to two metres a year. The study also adds that there has been an increase in the number of borewells and many open wells have dried up.

The city has tried to bring forth several legislations to save its groundwater. The first of these was the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Act, 1978.

According to a 2018 research paper published in the journal World Development, Chennai Metro Water Board strategised the purchasing of riparian water permits.

The Board bought the riparian rights in neighbouring Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts as early as the 1960s.

However, given the shared nature of groundwater aquifers and the continued dependence of many small and marginal farmers, who drew water from these aquifers for agriculture, the strategy had led to significant tensions between rural communities and Chennai, and among rural communities themselves.

“On one hand, enterprising farmers have converted their riparian rights into a profitable water trade, but on the other, many others have been negatively affected, producing conflict both within rural communities and between rural communities and Chennai,” the research explains.

According to surveys conducted in the Magaral and Palayaseevaram villages, agricultural production had been negatively affected by excessive groundwater extraction on the part of the Chennai Metro Water Board, adds the study.

SE’s 2012 research talks about the village of Velliyur, 50 kilometres from Chennai, in the basin of the Araniyar-Kortallaiyar rivers, where groundwater extraction was started as early as 1969 by the Board. About 11 borewells were installed to pump water from the village common lands to supply 16 MLD to nearby industries and Chennai city.

By 2000, nine borewells had failed. Chennai Metro Water Board then signed up 75 farmers to source 40 MLD. But by 2004, the water supply from the wells had declined to 17 MLD and more wells were going dry.


As water stress grew, tension over withdrawal also rose. People wanted the local panchayat to issue orders banning the export of water from the village.

The council declined. When aggrieved farmers went to court and got a stay on the sale of water, Metro Water intervened and supported those farmers who were selling water.

Agricultural output declined and the people had no option but move to sand mining in the riverbed. But this had an adverse impact on water recharge and soon, the water-selling farmers protested.

Metro Water used its influence to ban sand mining. By August 2004, tensions had reached a flashpoint and violence broke out as people stormed the local Metro Water office. To buy peace, it was agreed that water sale would be stopped within a month.

But this promise was not kept, as the powerful lobby of water-sellers and city officials obtained a stay from the court on the settlement. The conflict grew. By mid-September 2004, the entire village came together to block the roads and in the ensuing agitation, public pipelines were damaged.

People were arrested. A case was filed. The court asked the villagers to compensate Metro Water. This left the people protesting against the water withdrawal dispirited and dejected. Water sales started again. Metro Water even put up a notice soliciting water from farmers.

This year, according to news reports, the aquifer along Tiruvallur has dried up and the Board has moved towards the Thamaraipakkam area in Tiruvallur district which is considered rich in groundwater.

The urban water needs have won over the rural rights. It is now time to look into the implementation of the Acts once again, say the experts.

Source: Down To Earth

With Reservoirs Bone-Dry, How Is Chennai Dealing with Water Crisis?

June 14, 2019

With Chennai metro water supply cut by 40%, water is available in most areas for hardly an hour leaving everyone at the mercy of water tankers. Almost all reservoirs are bone-dry with pipes empty.

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Source: The Quint, YouTube


Cleaning up Ganga: The heroic task yet to be accomplished:

June 7, 2019

The deadline for cleaning up the national river Ganga has been revised again. With the third extension, the deadline has now been extended to 2021.

In not a very subtle announcement of the same, new minister of the Jal Shakti Ministry, Gajendra Shekwat, said that the Ganga would be cleaned in two years.

Incidentally, when the Namami Gange mission was first announced in the 2014 budget speech by the Narendra Modi government, it was claimed that the Ganga would be made clean by 2019.

However, the then minister of Water Resources, Nitin Gadkari, clarified that while 80 per cent of the river would be cleaned by 2019, the entire process would be completed by 2020.

Whether even the 80 per cent target was achieved or not is a matter of debate. With the latest revision, Shekhawat still has a number of challenges ahead if the target is to be achieved within next two years.

Till April 2019, projects worth Rs 28,451.29 crore had been sanctioned under Namami Gange. Work on these projects has not even been completed for one-fourth of the sanctioned costs. The total expenditure done (on these projects) till April 30, 2019 stood at Rs 6,838.67 crore. In terms of numbers, only 98 projects had been completed as against sanctioned number of 298 till April 30, 2019.

The biggest investment was made on creating seweage infrastructure. Out of Rs 23,540.95 crore-sanctioned projects, only projects worth Rs 4,521 have been completed.

Has the health of the river improved?

According to the latest information available with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the Ganga water is not fit for drinking in the entire stretch of Uttar Pradesh (except for Bijnor), Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Out of 70-odd monitoring points, the water is fit for drinking at only three points in Uttarakhand and Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh.

As far as bathing standards are concerned, the water was fit only at places in Uttarakhand, two places upstream in Uttar Pradesh and two in Jharkhand. Otherwise the entire stretch is unfit for bathing.

As against the upper limit of faecal coliform number of 2,500 per 100 millilitre (ml), it was 11,000 per 100 ml in Allahabad, 32,000 per 100 ml in Kanpur and 22,000 per 100 ml in Varanasi in April, according to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board. UP is one among the five Ganga belt states where the government has put maximum thrust under the Namami Gange mission.

In West Bengal’s Uluberia, the faecal coliform number was 50,000 per 100 ml. The main source of faecal coliform is human excreta.

A 2018 CPCB report, however, said that the river water quality did not improve between 2014 and 2018. “In the Uttar Pradesh stretch, biological water quality is consistently moderately polluted during the period 2014-18… In Bihar, the river at Patna city was heavily polluted during 2015-16, while all other points were moderately polluted,” it said.

While experts were skeptical that the river would be cleaned by the original deadline of 2019, now it seems that even the revised deadline would be difficult to meet.

Source: Down To Earth

A survey on water by United Nations

June 7, 2019

In order to better serve its constituents, UN-Water has designed a survey to learn more about people’s knowledge of water and sanitation and what they think about its communication. The ‘quizurvey’ – a hybrid between a quiz and a survey – takes around 10 minutes to complete and is available in the six official UN languages.

Please clink on the link below to take the survey!


Source: United Nations Water

Govt. forms ‘Jal Shakti’ Ministry by merging Water Resources and Drinking Water Ministries

May 31, 2019

Shekhawat took charge of the ministry on Friday, a day after he was sworn in as minister. During the election campaign, Modi had promised to form an integrated ministry dealing with water issues.

“All the water related works will be merged under one ministry,” Shekhawat said after taking the charge.

The ambit of the Ministry will encompass issues ranging from international and inter-states water disputes, the Namami Gange project, the flagship initiative to clean the Ganges, its tributaries and sub-tributaries and provide clean drinking water.

In the first Modi government, the project to clean the Ganga was moved from the Ministry of Environment and Forests to the Ministry of Water Resources. With a greater push and much larger monetary allocation, the Namami Gange project was launched.

The Minister said as promised in the party manifesto, the priority will be to provide clean drinking water to everyone.

Rebutting the charge that nothing was done under the Namami Gange project, Shekhawat said the Ganga river has been cleaned to a large extent and now the priority will be to clean its tributaries and sub-tributaries.

Rattan Lal Kataria will be the Minister of State in the newly formed ministry.

Source: Business Line

Researches from MIT have a new take on desalination

February 20, 2019

The rapidly growing desalination industry produces water for drinking and for agriculture in the world’s arid coastal regions. But it leaves behind as a waste product a lot of highly concentrated brine, which is usually disposed of by dumping it back into the sea, a process that requires costly pumping systems and that must be managed carefully to prevent damage to marine ecosystems. Now, engineers at MIT say they have found a better way.

In a new study, they show that through a fairly simple process the waste material can be converted into useful chemicals — including ones that can make the desalination process itself more efficient.

The approach can be used to produce sodium hydroxide, among other products. Otherwise known as caustic soda, sodium hydroxide can be used to pretreat seawater going into the desalination plant. This changes the acidity of the water, which helps to prevent fouling of the membranes used to filter out the salty water — a major cause of interruptions and failures in typical reverse osmosis desalination plants.

Sodium hydroxide is not the only product that can be made from the waste brine: Another important chemical used by desalination plants and many other industrial processes is hydrochloric acid, which can also easily be made on site from the waste brine using established chemical processing methods. The chemical can be used for cleaning parts of the desalination plant, but is also widely used in chemical production and as a source of hydrogen.

Currently, the world produces more than 100 billion liters (about 27 billion gallons) a day of water from desalination, which leaves a similar volume of concentrated brine. Much of that is pumped back out to sea, and current regulations require costly outfall systems to ensure adequate dilution of the salts. Converting the brine can thus be both economically and ecologically beneficial, especially as desalination continues to grow rapidly around the world. “Environmentally safe discharge of brine is manageable with current technology, but it’s much better to recover resources from the brine and reduce the amount of brine released,” Lienhard says.

The method of converting the brine into useful products uses well-known and standard chemical processes, including initial nanofiltration to remove undesirable compounds, followed by one or more electrodialysis stages to produce the desired end product. While the processes being suggested are not new, the researchers have analyzed the potential for production of useful chemicals from brine and proposed a specific combination of products and chemical processes that could be turned into commercial operations to enhance the economic viability of the desalination process, while diminishing its environmental impact.

“This very concentrated brine has to be handled carefully to protect life in the ocean, and it’s a resource waste, and it costs energy to pump it back out to sea,” so turning it into a useful commodity is a win-win, Kumar says. And sodium hydroxide is such a ubiquitous chemical that “every lab at MIT has some,” he says, so finding markets for it should not be difficult.

The researchers have discussed the concept with companies that may be interested in the next step of building a prototype plant to help work out the real-world economics of the process. “One big challenge is cost — both electricity cost and equipment cost,” at this stage, Kumar says.

The team also continues to look at the possibility of extracting other, lower-concentration materials from the brine stream, he says, including various metals and other chemicals, which could make the brine processing an even more economically viable undertaking.

“One aspect that was mentioned … and strongly resonated with me was the proposal for such technologies to support more ‘localized’ or ‘decentralized’ production of these chemicals at the point-of-use,” says Jurg Keller, a professor of water management at the University of Queensland in Australia, who was not involved in this work. “This could have some major energy and cost benefits, since the up-concentration and transport of these chemicals often adds more cost and even higher energy demand than the actual production of these at the concentrations that are typically used.”

The research team also included MIT postdoc Katherine Phillips and undergraduate Janny Cai, and Uwe Schroder at the University of Braunschweig, in Germany. The work was supported by Cadagua, a subsidiary of Ferrovial, through the MIT Energy Initiative.

Source: Water World

Mr. Bachchan doing it the right way. Are you?

February 15, 2019

No matter who the person, be it a celebrity or a person from the slums, we should realise the integrity of our lives and how climate change is affecting our planet. Doing the simplest thing can make a great difference in the long run and it should start from the periphery of our homes.

Source: YouTube

Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all

October 25, 2018

Too many people still lack access to safely managed water supplies and sanitation facilities. Water scarcity, flooding and lack of proper wastewater management also hinder social and economic development. Increasing water efficiency and improving water management are critical to balancing the competing and growing water demands from various sectors and users.

  • In 2015, 29 per cent of the global population lacked safely managed drinking water supplies, and 61 per cent were without safely managed sanitation services. In 2015, 892 million people continued to practise open defecation.
  • In 2015, only 27 per cent of the population in LDCs had basic hand washing facilities.
  • Preliminary estimates from household data of 79 mostly high- and high-middle-income countries (excluding much of Africa and Asia) suggest that 59 per cent of all domestic wastewater is safely treated.
  • In 22 countries, mostly in the Northern Africa and Western Asia region and in the Central and Southern Asia region, the water stress level is above 70 per cent, indicating the strong probability of future water scarcity.
  • In 2017–2018, 157 countries reported average implementation of integrated water resources management of 48 per cent.

Based on data from 62 out of 153 countries sharing trans boundary waters, the average percentage of national trans boundary basins covered by an operational arrangement was only 59 per cent in 2017.

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Source: United Nations, YouTube