Thursday, July 2, 2015

We need to involve children from all walks of life when it comes to the crucial issue of water (Hindustan Times, 3July 2015)

AMEETA WATTAL, Principal, Springdales, Pusa Road

NEW DELHI: Involving children in campaigns on water conservation is of prime importance, says National Progressive Schools’ Conference president Ameeta Wattal. She is also the principal of Springdales School Pusa Road, one of the first institutions in Delhi to have a rainwater harvesting plant.
Do you think children today are being
involved in campaigns, especially around water conservation, the way they should be?
I think that a lot of things have gone completely off the radar vis-s-vis children. We are in a place these days where we are only talking to adults about issues. A strange culture has developed where children have got marginalised and even the Central Board for Secondary Education has gone silent when it comes to awareness campaigns involving children. Schools and NGOs are making efforts on their own but these are not institutionalised. It is supressing the activism of thought in children.
Why is it important to involve school children in the dialogue around water conservation?
We recently held a session in school where we discussed the water map of the country and the children were shown the real picture of water availability. Children need to be involved and be made aware of the immediate danger they are in terms of water availability. We are talking about Digital India, but there is no focus on water. These are very important things. The kids will be effecting and influencing attitudes and policies about this issue.

Save water, convince others to conserve (Hindustan Times, 3 July 2015)

The capital needs a mass awareness programme on water conservation to tide over the shortage and ensure a better future

NEW DELHI: The city might be living on borrowed water but the indiscriminate use of this precious resource does nothing to betray this fact.

Delhi lacks vigorous campaigns when it comes to water conservation.
Leaving taps open, pipe leakages, switching on water pumps and forgetting to switch them off and even leaving the tap running while brushing your teeth are indicators of how far we have to go when it comes to developing a water culture among the people of Delhi.
According to experts, the reason people don’t value water is that it is a cheap commodity. Most people are either pumping free water from the ground or paying what are among the lowest rates for water in the world, making is a highly valuable commodity that comes cheap. Added to that, the government has announced 20,000 litres of free water per household per month.
Water activist Manoj Misra feels there is a need for sensitisation. “We have taken water for granted. People should understand that one day we might open the tap and there might be no water. It is scarce resource and there is a clear-cut possibility that there may not be any left one day. We have to learn to live within limited water,” Misra said.
A draft policy has been prepared by the Delhi Jal Board, which will have detailed aspects of demand management, reduction of consumption, conservation, utilisation of recycled water and yearwise targets, along with a possible water commission. This might be a reality in a matter of months. But is the city missing out on public participation when it comes to water conservation?
Take for example an innovative campaign by a Los Angeles advertising agency Omelet, which offers residents the signage, ‘I am conserving water! Won’t you join me’, declaring their preference for water conservation over prim and proper lawns. By choosing to be a part of this out-of-the-box and smart campaign, dead grass on the lawn showcases a homeowner as someone who uses water for survival rather than maintaining outward appearances in the form of a lush, green lawn. According to a proenvironment website, the simplicity and genius of the campaign has clearly struck a chord with Californians, with demand for the signs outpacing supply.
Back home, the regular advertisements before a movie screening or between TV shows showcases an ailing Mukesh suffering from oral cancer due to chewing tobacco.
A similar shocking campaign is missing when it comes to water conservation.
The Delhi Jal Board says it is doing its bit to make sure people are aware of what needs to be done.
“The DJB has been carrying out awareness campaigns through various communication channels such as print media, posters, OOH advertising and FM channels and so on, to sensitise and educate the citizens of Delhi about water conservation and rain water harvesting. We have launched a Facebook page where all the subjects pertaining to water including water conservation are promoted regularly. We have also created a mascot called ‘Jal Dost’ which is being used in its communication strategies,” a Jal Board official said.
These campaigns, however, have not remained with the people.
Jyoti Sharma, president of Forum for Organised Resources Conservation and Enhancement (FORCE) feels residents need to be partners for conservation efforts to be successful. “When agencies initiate a campaign, if people don’t participate these won’t work.” Sharma said.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


NEW DELHI: Living on borrowed water, Delhi should not hope to get any more water, at least not for the coming 10 years.
As per Delhi Jal Board CEO, SS Yadav, relying on dams upstream of the Yamuna is not something that the city should be doing.
“We have to understand that this is all the water we will get, at least for the coming 10 years. Dams upstream may come up and whenever they will come up we will see what we get. This, however, is what we will have to make do with for now,” Yadav said.
Experts told HT that managing Yamuna is not something that Delhi can do alone. “There are a lot of states and authorities involved. Only one state can’t take decisions about the river alone,” said Manoj Misra, convener, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan.
SA Naqvi, convener, Citizens for Water Democracy said that a one-stop body that takes the final decision in favour of the river is needed.
Delhi, however, still has to be the torchbearer. “This city has to lead the way in the river’s restoration by setting welldefined targets by which it will return water to the river,” Misra said.

FINDING A WAY OUT (Hindustan Times, 1 July 2015)

Key problems related to the water crisis in Delhi were discussed by a panel of experts at HT House. Here are some of the issues that were taken up along with the proposed solutions:
ONE-STOP AUTHORITY There should be a one-stop authority to look into water issues as a whole. All authorities that deal with planning and water should come under it. PLUGGING LEAKAGES According to DJB, it is not earning revenue on 45% of the water in its system. Some of this is lost to leakage, some to theft and pilferage. COMMUNITY OWNERSHIP Conservation and optimal use of water available is the responsibility of authorities as well as the people. Unless people feel ownership towards water and its sources. BETTER USAGE Reusing treated water that is collected from drains or sewage, thereby reducing the usage of drinking water for all non-drinking purposes. PLANNED DEVELOPMENT Projects planned without the consent of authorities that are responsible for water supply create problems. Delhi has seen Dwarka and Vasant Kunj as a living examples of this. STRICT ACTION Punitive steps need to be introduced as campaigns about the need to reduce, reuse, retrofit and recycle of water have not had much impact. REAL CHALLENGE Even though some policies are in place, getting steps for water conservation implemented have been nothing short of an uphill task for agencies and activists.
DJB isn’t the only authority that controls water. It controls supply but doesn’t have control over the source. Since Yamuna flows through different states, a body that can also solve disputes related to river water is needed. Expansion of Delhi Jal Board’s piped water supply network is needed so that people are not forced to steal water in the national capital. In the interim, the water utility is installing water meters at various points on their lines to gauge and stop leakages, theft and pilferage. These areas are called District Metering Areas. A large-scale awareness campaign should be started where reaching out to people should be key. Even on the banks of Yamuna, reaching the river bank should be obstacle-free and easy so that citizens’ connect and ownership of the river increases. Reuse of treated water for non-domestic purpose will reduce dependency on potable water. The DJB is already planning a colony-level waste water management programme, where the colony will be allowed to manage its own water requirements according to the availability from one bulk connection. A bureau of water efficiency on the line of the bureau of energy efficiency can be formed. This body can issue ratings as per to efficiency. Policy on development should follow water availability. The smart sub-cities shouldn’t come up as separate entities as they will not be sustainable. Instead, illegal colonies should be turned into smart cities and all amenities should be extended there. There must be action against those who are not doing rainwater harvesting. The DJB plans to charge 1.5 times of the water bill from industrial units which are yet to install rainwater harvesting mechanism. If people do not take sewage connections, despite the utility making the cost more affordable, they should be heavily penalised. Discourage usage of non-efficient fittings by making them more expensive. For successful implementation of rainwater harvesting across the national capital, one nodal agency should be made responsible. To make sure the groundwater gets recharged, decentralised rainwater harvesting plants are required in every corner of the capital city, where a hand pump is or was active. Water efficiency must be encouraged and promoted by making efficient fittings less expensive by the concerned authorities.

Experts push for creating water culture (Hindustan Times, 1 July 2015)

Water utility likely to set up Bureau of Water Efficiency and make efficient water fittings cheaper

NEW DELHI: The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) may soon rate your bathroom fittings for water efficiency.
SONU MEHTA/HT PHOTOWater activist Manoj Misra, one of the experts, speaks at the panel discussion on water problems at HT House.
The utility is planning to start a Bureau of Water Efficiency, along the lines of the Bureau of Energy Efficiency, which rates electrical appliances. All appliances in India must have a rating from the bureau.
“We are looking at promoting more efficient fittings and we want to set up a Bureau of Water Efficiency. We are already looking at encouraging efficient fittings by making them cheaper. Conversely, making inefficient fittings more expensive is also a way to make sure less water is wasted,” said Delhi Jal Board chief executive officer, SS Yadav.
So aerator faucets, which mix 50% water with 50% air but give the feeling of good water flow, will become cheaper.
Yadav was reacting to ‘Dry Daze’, Hindustan Times’ month-long series on Delhi’s problems of water supply. HT invited the DJB CEO, Manoj Misra, convener, Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, Jyoti Sharma, president, Forum for Organised Resources Conservation and Enhancement and SA Naqvi, convener, Citizens for Water Democracy to discuss the various issues around the availability, supply, use and reuse of water in the city. During the discussion, which lasted over two hours, various problems and suggestions to tackle them were shared.
Yadav highlighted how DJB was planning to reduce water consumption by 10 litres per person per day in 10 years and this would happen progressively.
“The target has been set to reduce consumption by 10 litres per capita per day every 10 years,” Yadav said.
Delhi, however, attracts around 5 lakh migrants every year and only 30% of the city has grown in a planned manner.
“We have to practice self sufficiency if we need to make sure that citizens are getting water for their needs... In 2050, it is projected, Delhi’s population will stabilise and till then we must have the basic requirements in place,” said Sharma.
The international example that Delhi needs to follow to become self sufficient is Singapore, experts said.
“The small country has made massive leaps from being completely dependent on others for water to being completely self-sufficient,” Manoj Misra said.
Delhi’s policy on rain water harvesting has been weak on implementation. The DJB has now decided to fine all establishments that are bigger than 500 square metres if they do not practice harvesting.
Another area that DJB needs to look at more closely is the non-revenue water. This is water that runs and bleeds through the utility’s pipes but on which no revenue is earned. It includes water that is leaked or stolen, or provided free in areas that are not covered by DJB pipelines.
“We are looking at earning more revenue to fund our own projects in the coming few years,” Yadav said.
Private water tankers and bottling units often benefit using non-revenue water, giving rise to water mafia.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Unprepared for disaster: Ten of city’s 11 districts prone to fires, building collapse looms in 9 (Indian Express, 29 June 2015)

Written by MAYURA JANWALKAR | New Delhi | Updated: June 29, 2015 4:55 am

While all of Delhi is vulnerable to earthquakes, a risk and vulnerability assessment carried out by the Delhi government shows that 10 out of city’s 11 revenue districts are vulnerable to fires and nine are prone to building collapses.

The analysis is part of the Draft Disaster Management Plan for Delhi 2014-15 prepared by the Revenue department. “Vulnerability is thus the liability of a community to suffer stress or the consequence of the failure of any protective devices and may be defined as the degree to which a system or part of a system may react adversely to the occurrence of a hazardous event,” the plan states.

The draft plan, submitted to the LG-led Delhi Disaster Management Authority, also gives an account of Delhi’s disabled population under the head “societal vulnerability”. It states: “Persons with disabilities are not a heterogeneous group… and will have needs in a disaster or emergency situation.”

Citing the 2011 Census, the draft plan gives an account of the 2.94 lakh disabled people in the capital. Underscoring the hindrances in reaching services to the disabled population, the plan lists 15 types of “possible disabilities that may arise from any disaster leading to major chaos”.
They include development disabilities, psychological, respiratory, spinal cord, physical or instinctual disabilities, loss or amputation, risk of development of new disabilities, among others. The hindrances in delivering services to the disabled in the event of a disaster, as mentioned in the plan, include health and education disarrangement, resource scarcity, inaccessible to relief even if evacuated from a disaster area and “discrimination by other survivals in temporary shelters”.

“As per the disability population data of NCT of Delhi, preparation and response actions and strategies are to be incorporated and arranged in all the 11 districts of Delhi and also included in each district disaster management plan,” the draft plan states.

The strength, weakness, opportunity, threats (SWOT) analysis carried out by the authorities states: “Soft alluvial soil around Yamuna poses risk of high damages during earthquakes and floods. A high population, high residential and industrial density, scattered slums and JJ clusters, living in poor housing conditions along with poor preparedness and administrative response aggravates the risk and may lead to colossal losses to lives and property during emergencies.”

“If one plants a pencil on a mound of sand and shakes the platform under it, the pencil won’t stand on it. But if the pencil is planted in tighter soil, it will stand despite all the shaking under the mound. The soft soil acts like a sand mound during an earthquake. It is prone to liquefaction, thus making structures standing on it prone to collapse,” a senior government official explained. “Mainstreaming disaster management into development planning may be ensured by regulating land-use zoning according to the exposure of risks, updation and enforcement of building bylaws as per the disaster resistance codes and retrofitting of lifeline buildings and other important buildings. Such practice may help in reducing risk by improving the condition of existing buildings and new constructions,” the draft plan suggests.

Three months to get sewer, water at 80% discount (Indian Express, 29 June, 2015)

Delhi Jal Board on Sunday notified the massive cut in new water and sewer development charges it had announced weeks ago. The one-time, 80 per cent reduction has come into force immediately and will last till September 25, government officials said.
While the sewer development charges have been slashed from Rs 494 per sqm to Rs 100, water development charges have been reduced from Rs 440 per sqm to Rs 100 as well. The move will provide relief to lakhs of residents living in about 1,600 unauthorised colonies in the capital.

Elaborating on the manner in which the scheme was finalised, a senior DJB official said, “For quite some time, residents of various unauthorised colonies were asking for relief in payment of sewer and water development charges, as they predominantly belong to economically weaker sections and therefore unable to pay development charges of Rs 494 and Rs 400, respectively.
This is an opportunity for these people to get water and sewer connections.”

The government has also launched another scheme to regularise unauthorised water connections – existing unauthorised connections can be regularised at subsidised rates of Rs 3,310, instead of the earlier cost of Rs 18,000.

“We have simplified the process of obtaining new water and sewer connection and payment of development charges. Special arrangements have been made in all the zonal revenue offices of DJB to receive and scrutinise the applications quickly and grant new connections. Consumers can even apply online at their zonal revenue office,” the DJB official said.
Meanwhile, the DJB has launched a drive to penalise water consumers who do not have an authorised water and sewer connection or are misusing their connection for commercial purposes.

“The enforcement drive will be intensified and those who do not take a legal connection from DJB will be prosecuted,” the official said. So far, around 1,000 consumers have been booked.