Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Experts wary of water sops, govt hopeful (Hindustan Times 26 February 2015)

Darpan Singh darpan.singh@hindustantimes.com
From page 01 NEW DELHI: The AAP government’s move to supply up to 20,000 litres of free water to every household every month will not cover a vast chunk of Delhi because of infrastructural deficiencies. The water sop will leave out most of those living in slums, resettlement and unauthorised colonies.
Experts also fear that the ‘freebie’ will devalue the scarce resource and lead to wastage and diversion.
The subsidy, which comes with the rider that consumption over 20,000 litres would mean payment in full for the entire supply, will reach all 18 lakh metered households. But AAP’s own assessment says 14 lakh households do not have piped connections.
But the government is hopeful.
“Delhi Jal Board has been directed to speed up the process of setting up infrastructure to provide water to colonies that do not have pipelines,” deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said.
The gover nment plans to crack down on the tanker mafia and ensure water reaches all places with piped networks or metered connections. “We will ensure 100% coverage in the next five years,” said a senior government official.
The government will bear a subsidy of ` 21 crore per month for free water. The cabinet has approved ` 250 crore for the next financial year. “This estimate includes the cost of installing more meters to allow more people to get the benefit of piped water,” said another government official.
But the concern is not only about poor coverage. There is a possibility of wastage and diversion. “Free supply of water is not sustainable. It devalues the resource and makes the user careless. Other cities will make similar demands,” Manoj Misra of NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan said.
Manu Bhatnagar of Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) feels such a supply cannot be more than 10,000 litres. “And it cannot be free. The cost should be realized. Why offer free resources to the rich? It will lead to misuse.”
Due to distribution leakages and faulty fixtures, Delhi faces a shortfall of 265 million gallons per day. “This 20,000 litres per family per month means around 130 litres per person per day. An average person requires 70 litres of water a day. Even if we add 30 litres more per person to meet non-household needs, 100 litres per person per day is enough for a comfortable living,” said Misra.
Experts feel there could be differential rates for different categories of citizens but free supply made it prone to wastage and misuse. “It could even result in a water black market where people getting free water in excess would be more than glad to supply it to the black marketers,” said Misra.

AAP’S WATER TARGETS

Within five years, piped water connections to reach as many as 14 lakh households (50 lakh people) in Delhi
The mandatory annual 10 percent hike in water tariffs will be abolished and any further hike will be made only after due consideration
AAP will crackdown on the tanker mafia and put in place a transparent tanker water distribution system
The water subsidy announced by the party will cover almost 18 lakh households of the capital
For the month of March, it will cost around ` 21 crore

Massive deforestation found in Yamuna floodplains, NGO demands action (Hindustan Times, 25 Feb 2015)

Massive deforestation found in Yamuna floodplains, NGO demands action

  • Darpan Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  •  | 
  • Updated: Feb 24, 2015 11:53 I
If found true, such heavy deforestation may be bad news for Delhiites who are reeling under spiralling air pollution which has triggered respiratory and cardiac problems in the city. The loss of this green zone, if established, will also shrink the groundwater recharge area.
NGO Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan has sent its field report, based on Google Images, to Lt Governor Najeeb Jung and chief minister Arvind Kejriwal “to expose massive deforestation in 25 hectares between 2004 and 2014 in the perhaps only remaining green patch in the upstream of the Wazirabad barrage.”
The river zone (zone o) spread across 9,700 hectares in Delhi is seriously threatened through encroachment and pollution including dumping of municipal waste and debris. But there is also an increasing threat of deforestation of whatever little natural forest is left in the zone o.
“It’s a brazen violation of both the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 and the Forest Conservation Act 1980. We have sought a thorough probe and appropriate action against the violators. We seek action to restore the greenery thus lost at the cost of those responsible,” YJA’s Manoj Misra said. 
YJA has in its report sent to the government on Tuesday indicated that the “brazen” act has been carried out by some government agency since “ordinary people cannot carry out a systematic clearing in the manner done.”
“A perusal of the Delhi master plan and the approved zonal plan for the 54-km-long and a maximum of 3-km-wide zone O, where the site in question is shown as “greens” proves that the said impugned act is in violation of the DDA Act as well,” Misra said.
The YJA has sought to know how the large scale deforestation in the river zone escaped the scrutiny of DDA officials and if in the know then why the relevant officials remained quiet about the act. Google Images in the YJA’s report point out the deforestation at village Sadatpur Gujran upstream of Wazirabad barrage on the eastern bank. “We’re waiting for the government response,” said Misra. 
Despite hundreds of crores of rupees spent, several court cases and government projects, the condition of the Yamuna, which meets Delhi’s 70% drinking water needs, has only worsened.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Sir, removal of greens in North east Delhi is a case of brazen encroachment and violation of DDA laws

24 February 2015
YJA/CORRES/2/15
Sri Najeeb Jung
Hon'ble Lt Governor
Delhi

Sri Arvind Kejriwal,
Hon'ble Chief Minister
Delhi

Sub: Sir, removal of greens in North east Delhi is a case of brazen encroachment and violation of DDA laws


Sir/s,

Greetings from Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan.

Sir, this is in continuation of our e mail of yesterday (23 Feb 2015), where we had highlighted how massive deforestation and loss of greenery in the only remaining green patch in north east Delhi had happened between 2004 and 2014.

Now we learn that this brazen act has been carried out by some agency (since few persons cannot carry out a systematic clearing in the manner done). 

A perusal of the MPD 2021 and the approved zonal plan for Zone O, where the site in question is shown as "greens" (Please see the enclosed report) proves that the said impugned act is in violation of the DDA Act as well.

We thus request:

a) It may be determined as to which agency is behind this illegal and brazen Act  
b) How has this large scale deforestation in river zone (Zone O) escaped the scrutiny of the DDA officials and if in the know then why have the relevant officials in the DDA remained quiet about this illegal act
c) Strict action may kindly be initiated against the all concerned
d) Urgent steps be taken to remove the said encroachment and to restore the said greens in its natural manner. 

With warm regards,

Manoj Misra
Convener  


CC:
Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change - For your kind information and necessary action please.

Secretary (Forest & Environment), Govt. of Delhi – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Chief Secretary, Govt. of Delhi - For your kind information and necessary action please
Sri Balvinder Kumar, Vice Chairman, Delhi Development Authority – For your kind information and necessary action please.


Sir, massive deforestation in Zone O (river zone) in north-east Delhi - Please direct DDA and Forest Dept for appropriate legal action and greenery restoration

23 February 2015
YJA/CORRES/2/15
Sri Najeeb Jung
Hon'ble Lt Governor
Delhi

Sri Arvind Kejriwal
Hon'ble Chief Minister
Delhi

Sub: Sir, massive deforestation in Zone O (river zone) in north-east Delhi - Please direct DDA and Forest Dept for appropriate legal action and greenery restoration

Sir/s,

Greetings from Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan.

Sir, it is well known that the river zone (Zone O) in NCT of Delhi is gravelly threatened through encroachment and pollution including dumping of MSW and debris. 

But it is little realised that there is also an increasing threat of deforestation of whatever little natural forest is left in the Zone O. 

Please permit us to bring to your kind attention the enclosed report (based on google images) that provides an instance of massive deforestation spread over almost 2,50,000 sq m between 2004 and 2014 in the perhaps only remaining green patch in north east Delhi upstream of the barrage at Wazirabad. 

Sir, this appears to be a brazen violation of both the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act, 1994 and the Forest Conservation Act 1980. 

We thus request you to kindly get the said site investigated and if a legal violation is found then appropriate legal action may be initiated against the said violators. We also request for actions to restore the greenery thus lost at the cost of the people / agency that might be responsible. 

With warm regards,


Manoj Misra
Convener




CC:

Chief Secretary, Govt. of Delhi - For your kind information and necessary action please
Secretary (Forest & Environment), Govt. of Delhi – For your kind information and necessary action please.

Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change - For your kind information and necessary action please.

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Govt. of NCT of Delhi - For your kind information and necessary action please.

Sri Balvinder Kumar, Vice Chairman, Delhi Development Authority – For your kind information and necessary action please.






Friday, February 20, 2015

Class is out, smart is in (Down to Earth, 20 Feb 2015)

Class is out, smart is in

Author: Manoj Misra 
Posted on: 20 Feb, 2015 (Down to Earth)

For a city like Delhi to become truly smart, there must be focus on essential systems like transport, power, water procurement, distribution and disposal and the management of the city’s refuse
There was a time not very long ago when the city planners wanted Delhi to become a world ‘class’ (whatever that meant) city. But today talk is of having a ‘smart’ (again whatever that might mean) city. Let us attempt a common sense understanding.
Smart would be something that looks great and works great. For a city to look great would obviously need an ambience that is pleasing to the senses and to work great it would need enhanced systemic efficiencies with low energy needs and zero pollution. It might be tempting to see as to how could this possibly play itself out in AAP ki Dilli (AAP’s Delhi)?
There is what could be termed ‘essential’ systems and then there are ‘dependent’ systems that go to make a city, smart or not.
‘Essentials’ would include systems like water procurement, distribution and disposal; citizenry’s means of transportation; power (procurement and distribution) to brighten up as well as to move man and materials and finally the management of the city’s refuse (solid and liquid). The ‘dependent’ would include systems that subsist on the ‘essentials’ like the residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, heritage and the recreational spaces within the city. 
Clearly for a city like Delhi to become truly ‘smart’, focus must start from first making smart its ‘essential’ systems.   
Which in practical term means ‘smarting’ Delhi Jal Board (DJB) as the city’s waterman, Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and Delhi Metro as its transporters, the various power utilities as its power producers, procurers and suppliers, and the three MCDs as its managers of refuse?   
Once ‘smarted’ enough what would Delhiites expect?
Adequate piped and stand posted (where pipelines do not exist) fresh water to each household and treated gray water for non house-hold facilities; total separation and efficient management of city’s sewerage, industrial and storm drainage; efficient and comfortable public transport on roads where pedestrians and cyclists have as much freedom to move; electric power increasingly sourced from renewable (solar) with fossil fuelled backups a thing of the past; swaccha (clean) Dilli (Delhi) which by implication is also a swasthya (healthy) Dilli.  
It is efficient, transparent and participatory management that would usher in smartness. Something that is hard to achieve no matter computerisation and mechanisation due to the unmanageable sizes of the facilities mentioned before. They have to downsize and decentralise their operations.               
Small is indeed beautiful, efficient, accountable and sustainable. While an overblown city like Delhi cannot be reversed to a small stature, its parts can certainly be broken up into smaller autonomous units in planning and in implementation terms with a seamless thread of continuity and contiguity remaining in place to ensure that no part is allowed to remain a laggard and break the city’s overall smartness.
Only time will tell, whether the city’s new ruling political dispensation, viz., AAP’s concept of mohalla sabhas (ward committees) can translate itself into the drivers and catalyst of the said process of decentralised planning, accountable implementation and enhanced efficiencies of its ‘essential’ systems and realise the swaraj (self rule) dream of its popular chief minister often written large on his cap and hopefully embedded deep in his heart and head? But if that happens, the nation shall get not only its smart capital, but also a replicable smart model. AMEN.         
Manoj Misra is the Convener of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan.  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Delhi chokes as pollution rises again Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times (19 Feb 2015)

If you faced breathing problems on Wednesday morning, it was primarily because of the rising air pollution that has rebounded in the Capital in the last few days.
The particulate matter (PM) pollution in Delhi crossed 400 unit grams in cubic meter of air (ug/m3) on Wednesday after hovering around 250 for the last 10 days or so.
The reason for the sudden spurt in air pollution was the cloudy weather that slowed down the disbursal of pollutants, resulting in toxicity in air remaining suspended for a longer time.
The PM pollution at Punjabi Bagh in west Delhi peaked at 396 ug/m3 at seven o’clock, about seven times the national standard. It fell to about 250 in the afternoon and again rose to about 300 in the evening.
Similarly, PM level in east Delhi’s Shahdara rose to over 357 ug/m3 in the morning with a slight dip in the afternoon and rising again in the evening.
The PM pollution was recorded more than double the national standard at several other locations in Delhi such as Sirifort in south Delhi, RK Puram in south-west Delhi and Bawana Road in north Delhi.
The level of ammonia was also high.
Near the Delhi government headquarters at ITO, where the Central Pollution Control Board monitors air quality for non-PM pollutants, the level of ammonia was as high as 184 ug/m3. High exposure to ammonia can lead to irritation in the eyes and can cause headache.
http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/popup/2015/2/1902pg2a.jpg
The capital’s air quality this winter had fallen to a new low since the year 2000 when cleaner fuel -- Compressed Natural Gas -- was introduced, resulting in a large population facing breathing ailments.
This winter Delhi’s air quality has constantly been worse that of Beijing, once considered the world most polluted city.
But the dirty tag was not been enough to wake the government from the slumber as no anti-PM pollution measures were put in place.
Even the promise of issuing advisories to people had not taken off as the Delhi Pollution Control Committee had not shared its pollution data with the Central Pollution Control Board, which had to issue the advisories.
The Delhi government is yet to announce measures to combat rising air pollution even though on Tuesday it allowed small industries to start without the mandatory pollution clearance, sending alarm bells ringing.

Green nod exemption: Experts write to CM Kejriwal, warn him (Hindustan Times, 18 Feb 2015)

A day after Hindustan Times reported about the Delhi government's decision to do away the requirement for less polluting industries to obtain permits from the Capital's anti-pollution watchdog, environmentalists on Wednesday wrote to chief minister Arvind Kejriwal warning him of serious repercussions.

The government on its second day in office said the decision was taken only for industries other than those belonging to the 'red' category or highly polluting ones to remove a major stumbling block in easing of doing business in Delhi.
Industries are essentially divided into three categories depending on their pollution level. The red zone is a banned one and a parliamentary clearance is required to set up an industry under this category. The green zone comprises non-polluting units like bakeries, carpentry, hand looms, etc. The orange zone includes units like drugs, electroplating, soaps, dying cloths and tobacco, which release some amounts of effluents, for which treatment plants are mandatory.
Permits from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) are critical to improving the capital's water and air quality as they are renewed after periodic inspections and ensure that anti-pollution norms are adhered to in the long-term.

"There is a need for an in-depth expert appraisal of the clearance mechanism in vogue at the DPCC to make it as transparent and timely as feasible with least opportunities for man-man interactions (to keep away rent seekers) during the assessment and the monitoring phases of the process, rather than a blanket removal of the environmental approvals itself," wrote Yamuna Jiye Abhiyan (YJA), a group of environmentalists, in its letter to Kejriwal.  

"Please do not throw the baby with the wash water. Pollution controls are not dispensable. Such a blanket measure is not in the interest of the city or its residents," said YJA's convener Manoj Misra.

The government said the requirement to take these consents was deterring a large number of traders of small and medium interprises from carrying out their business due to delays, harassment and increase in transaction costs. In its manifesto, the Aam Aadmi Party had promised that no raid will be carried out on any trader and all difficulties will also be removed in doing business if it came to power.

This is despite the fact that the AAP in its manifesto promised to reduce pollution with incentives for low-emission fuels such as CNG and electricity; and a plan for a holistic transport policy, which includes the induction of 5,000 more buses.
"This is an extremely bad move considering the poisonous air we are breathing, and the near-dead state the Yamuna is in," said former Central Pollution Control Board official Mahendra Pandey.
"Also, DPCC exists on the basis of two powerful central Acts to check air and water pollution. The Delhi government does not have the powers in the first place to do away with the requirement to take consent," said Pandey.

Satyendra Jain, who issued the order, holds both industry and health portfolios and the YJA has sought that the environment ministry be clubbed with health.
"The need of environmental norms and clearances has to be seen and strengthened as part of human health imperatives and not any dispensable and unnecessary red tape road block to industrial growth or human development as has in recent times often been branded by the vested interests, sometimes even by people who ought to know and act much better," said the YJA. 

Misra said often these clearances have been converted into rent seeking mechanisms (corruption) by the unscrupulous elements within the state machinery.
"So, the problem needs to be tackled at its root cause and not superficially by doing away with the requirement itself."

In Delhi, there are hardly any large industries. Some of the medium-scale polluting enterprises in the capital are those of metal recycling, plastic, electronic, perfume, and leather products. The number of total small and medium enterprises with limited investments, and registered in Delhi is 1,577 with 1,313 in manufacturing and the rest in services. But the actual number is much high.

Air pollution has been a huge cause for concern especially the quantum of extremely small particles - that can enter our lungs when we breathe - which cause several risks has been on the rise, several times the standards.
In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) rated Delhi as the world's most polluted city, ahead of Karachi, Peshawar, Xining and Beijing.