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VAK's Engagement with Water Issues > What's been in the Newspapers > April 2008

"Waterworld Mumbai by 2100?" 1 st April 2008 , The Times of India

  The Greenpeace report, warning Mumbaikars that their city may be inundated by rising water levels by 2100, has spurred some citizens to join the fight against global warming even as some experts have called the apocalyptic scenario somewhat alarmist. Greenpeace campaigner Brikesh Singh said one could significantly reduce individual carbon foot print by adopting simple habits like using energy - saving appliances, buying fuel-efficient cars, using public transport, walking short distances, not leaving electrical appliances on stand-by, separating garbage, taking a train instead of flying whenever possible and re-using plastic.

The Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) estimates temperatures will rise by 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius by 2100. "Greenpeace has probably considered the extreme figures and not taken the mean or average temperatures and has not accounted for the standard deviation. The moral of the story is that if the earth does get warmed up by increased emission of green house gases, it will also get cooled sufficiently to offset its effect.

YOUR HOME IS AT RISK

Colaba, Gateway of India, Malabar Hill, Mahalaxmi, Bandra - Bandstand, Bhyandar, Mira Rd., Andheri - (w),

COASTAL DANGER

  • Kolkata: Salt Lake , Airport, Parts of Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, Maniktala
  • Cochin: Fort Cochin, Vypin, M G Road, Kerala High Court, Marine Drive, Thevara, South Railway Station.
  • Goa : Panjim and most big beaches like Vagator, Anjuna, Calangute, Baga, Fort Aguada .
  • Chennai: MGR Film City, Ashtalakshmi Temple, Mahabalipurm, Chennai Port, Marina Beach, Fishing Harbour, Dolphin Park.

TO KEEP OUR HEAD ABOVE WATER:

  • Replace all incandescent bulbs with CFL lights, which consume less power, this will reduce carbon emission by 4 per cent.
  • Take care to switch off electrical appliances when you are not at home; besides lowering your power bill, you are also helping in a greater cause.
  • Try to use energy - guzzlers, like air - conditioning and geysers, less frequently.
  • Cook efficiently; use utensils that take less time to cook, take care to switch off the burner when not in use.
  • Buy equipment with better energy ratings.
  • Walk or cycle as far as possible, try to use public transport,

"India on brink of water crisis, says climate panel", Times of India, Mumbai

The per capita water availability is projected to decline to about 1,140 cubic metres per year in 2050 from 1,820 cubic metres per year recorded in 2001, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated in a report released recently. The IPCC has put out a warning specifically on the impact on freshwater sources for the world by culling all the scientific data it has earlier assessed. The warning comes at a time when the country is already recording a spate of water wars between states. It also states that reduced winter rains would lead to lower storage levels in India leading to a greater water stress during the lean monsoon period.

"Hogenakkal: writ in water", 7 th April 2008, Indian Express

The Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has put the Hogenakkal Project on hold until a government is elected in Karnataka. Ramaswamy R. Iyer writes that two things are clear about the project- First that it is supposed to be a drinking water project and among water used, drinking water has highest priority. the quantity of Cauvery water involved in this project is very small - 1.4thousand million cubic feet. - and it is also of benefit to some drought prone areas in Tamil Nadu. Second, Tamil Nadu claims that it is an approved project as it has Japanese funding available for the same. Then, however, the claim of raising a doubt rests on Yeddiyurappa's visit to the project adding dubious territorial dimensions to it. But what could Karnataka's objections be to the project? The backwater effects of the project. The Karnataka government also states that Tamil Nadu should not have taken up this project when the Cauvery water dispute is being heard in the Supreme Court

Neither Deve Gowda nor S. M. Krishna said a word in condemnation of of the violence. By ascribing it to a provocation by Karunanidhi, they seem implicitly to justify it. Violence in Karnataka followed by violence in Tamil Nadu. Commercial and passenger transport between the two states was disrupted. Film stars in both states began rallied and went on fasts. Trouble was spiralling out of control. At the Central level there was a deafening silence. Responses of all political leaders at all levels, local, state and national were determined by electoral calculations.

In reality, this is not a water issue at all. It is the eruption of a latent Kannadiga - Tamilian ill feeling.

"Water and votebank Politics", 12 th April 2008 , The Economic Times

Contrast that with the manner in which a project to provide drinking water to Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts in Tamil Nadu has been turned into an interstate issue. Since it is election time in Karnataka, it has also become all parties to espouse status quo, so that it ceases to be a political hot potato. But then, no political outfit can miss an opportunity to make capital out of an issue that is more emotive than rational. So, the BJP first jumped on to the bandwagon followed by all others, with the DMK and its partners joining issue at the other end. The BJP and its two rivals for power, the congress and the JD(S), would certainly prefer to keep the issue alive, given the fact that in the southern parts of the state, sharing of the Cauvery waters is still an important and emotive issue.

The project was cleared by the Centre in 1998 after both states agreed that they would not object to each other's plans to provide drinking water to Bangalore and Dharmapuri. This agreement was reached after several rounds of discussions and when the BJP led NDA was in power at the Centre. That the water for drinking purposes could be used by Tamil Nadu out of its share of the river water and not at the cost of other disputants. This is known to all the political parties, yet the BJP, in particular, decided to cry foul now because it hopes to translate this into votes.

"A pitcherful of poison: India 's water woes set to get worse", 13 th April 2008 , Times of India

In a list of 122 countries rated on quality of potable water, India ranks a lowly 120. And although India has 4% of the world's water, studies show average availability is shrinking steadily. It is estimated that by 2020, India will become a water stressed nation. The Constitution makes it the State's duty to provide potable water to its citizens - a mandate that remains on paper for many folks in 21st century India . Nearly 50% of villages still do not have any source of protected drinking water, say experts. Government stats paint a different picture though.

According to the 2001 census, 68.2% households have access to safe drinking water. The department of drinking water supply estimates that 94% of rural habitations and 91% urban households have access to drinking water. But experts point out that these are misleading, simply because coverage refers to installed capacity and not actual supply. The quality of groundwater, which accounts for more than 85% of domestic supply - since none of the 140-plus gazetted rivers have water fit to drink - is a major problem in many areas.

Arsenic is the other big killer lurking in ground water, putting at risk nearly 10 million people. The problem is acute in Murshidabad, Nadia, North and South 24-Parganas, Malda and Bardhaman districts of West Bengal . In fact, the deeper aquifers in the entire Gangetic plains contain arsenic.

High nitrate content in water is another serious concern. Fertilisers, septic tanks, sewage tanks etc are the main sources of nitrate contamination. The groundwater in MP, UP, Punjab , Haryana, Delhi , Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has shown traces of nitrates.

However, it's bacteriological contamination - which leads to diarrhea, cholera and hepatitis - that is most widespread in India . A WaterAid study of 950 sources of water in 300 villages revealed the presence of both fecal coli forms and fluoride in alarming proportions.

Experts say there are several ways to tackle the crisis. There is an urgent need to look for alternative sources of potable water in places where water quality has deteriorated sharply. Community-based water quality monitoring guidelines should be encouraged. As Barot says, "People should be encouraged to look at traditional methods of protecting drinking water sources; at times they work better." Also, in places where groundwater has arsenic or fluoride, surface water should be considered as an alternative. At least one or two safe drinking water sources in each village need to be protected. Simple steps like these could go a long way in saving lives.

Vikas Adhyayan Kendra
D-1 Shivdham, 62 Link Road, Malad (West), Mumbai 400 064 INDIA
Tel : 022-2882 2850 / 2889 8662. Fax : 022-2889 8941
E-mail: vak@bom3.vsnl.net.in