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VAK's Engagement with Water Issues > What's been in the Newspapers > April 2009
"Parched", 6th April 2009, Hindustan Times

Traffic in Ujjain is moving in a different lane these days. Almost every fourth vehicle is a water carrier - tankers, trolleys, goods carriers loaded with drums of water, handcarts pushing as many canisters as possible. Everyone in the town, 200 km west of Bhopal, seems to be moving with only one purpose - water. Water has to be transported to the town - the civic body supplies it through tankers once in six days. Those who can, often pay as much as Rs 10 for a canister typically, a canister carries 20 liters of water.

The monsoon failed last year hitting the western parts the hardest. Average rainfall was 40 per cent below normal, leaving 158 of the 339 towns in the state in a drought-like situation. "The situation is worrisome," admitted Chief Minister Shivaraj Singh Chouhan. Sixty-one towns, including tourist haunts like Khajuraho, do not get piped supply anymore. All local sources have dried up and water is ferried to these places. The Ujjain civic body is fighting a legal battle against Grasim Industries for drawing water from its barrage over the Chambal river. The district collector had issued an order taking over the water stored in the private barrage which supplies water to the industry and the township at Nagda. Grasim challenged the order in the court, which allowed it to retain one-fifth of the water, while releasing the remaining for the town. Dissatisfied, the municipal corporation has moved the high court.

"Thane civic body goes hi-tech with automated water supply", 8th April 2009, The Indian Express

Automation and innovation are the new buzzwords in the water supply department of the Thane Municipal Corporation (TMC). Housed in the ground floor of the civic head office, the central control room regulates the TMC's automated water supply system. The graphical representations of water levels in the Elevated Service Reservoirs (ESR) or elevated tanks and Master Balancing Reservoir (MBR) which supplies water to the ESR are displayed on the wall mounted LCD screens in the control room. Plan to install automatic valves that could be controlled from the control room are also in the pipeline. Once all the ESRs are networked to the control room, water supply audit could be done in real time. "Presently, the water levels at the ESR without WiMAX connectivity are monitored manually by the staff and values are handled accordingly. The manual system would not reveal any slack in the pressure or flow.

Thane receives water form Bhatsa river through supply by TMC, MIDC, Shahad - Temghar Water Supply Project (STEM) and BMC. The water is treated at Temghar treatment and supply plant and pumped round-the-clock to the master balancing reservoirs, which release water.

"Water woes for rural India as cities hike consumption", 27th April 2009, Mint

Numerous canals and reservoirs, some as far as the Bhakra dam in Punjab-about 360 km away-provide water to the 16 million residents of Delhi, one of India's wealthiest cities. Along the way, the water passes impoverished rural communities, where piped water is often an unheard of luxury and rivers are so polluted that no one would consider drinking their water. DJB chief executive officer Ramesh Negi points to the inherent paradox in the water supply scenario in India, with rural areas, which are usually the most efficient water users, suffering because city dwellers get most of the government's attention, "Water as a resource is still tied to geographical boundaries," he said.

Mandya is not the only instance of such water protests. Two years ago, six people were killed when the police fired on farmers in a village in Rajasthan. The farmers were protesting against the state, which had rejected their nearby Bisalpur dam to their fields, because Jaipur (70 km away) needed the water. The Hogenakkal drinking water project in Tamil Nadu is another instance where Karnataka and Tamil Nadu are currently contesting water sharing between the two states. Under the project, Tamil Nadu will source water form the Cauvery river, within Karnataka borders. "Industrial, agricultural and domestic uses are competing against each other. Under do mestic use, there are urban areas, which are water guzzlers, and rural areas, which have water but are not able to access it," said Richard Mahapatra, nation coordinator, water Aid India, the local arm of an international organization that works in the area of drinking water sanitation. Agriculture alone uses at least 80% of the water utilized in India. "But 90% of agricultural usage is met through groundwater, which is also critical for rural drinking purposes; more than 85% of rural drinking supply is met through groundwater. That immediately puts agriculture in competition with drinking water," Mahapatra added.

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