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

"Few takers for pvt participation in drinking water projects", 1st August 2008, The Indian Express

The government had decided to go for private participation after finding that water supply projects in as many 62 civic bodies were stuck due to lack of funds. The government releases grant to urban local bodies for undertaking new water supply projects or upgrading the existing ones. However, the extent of grant varies depending on the categories of municipalities - from 23.33 per cent of the estimated cost to up to 90 per cent. The grants are not released upfront but only in proportion to the project cost raised by the civic body. Bank loans were not possible due to credit worthiness of the water supply projects that are riddled with problems such as water losses and poor recovery of water charges.

"Water study predicts huge rise in demand", 4th August 2008, The Times of India

The demand for water in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) is in creasing at an alarming pace. By 2011, the region will need another 1,100 million litres a day (mld) and by the end of the next decade, it will need nearly 3,000 mld more, according to a new study. This has not only rattled the state administration, but has compelled a few civic bodies and water authorities to look for new dams and plan to revive dead ones. The only alternative is for his administration to revive dead dams, like the Poshr, Kalu and Shahi, which are situated in the basin of the Ulhas River, the main source of drinking water for the non BMC MMR. "The Panvel and Vasai municipal bodies are also rejuvenating their old dams and searching for new ones," a source in the metropolitan administration said.

The existing water supply scenario in the non-BMC MMR is already grim, with state authorities resorting to 15 to 20% water cuts almost twice a year.

"Dry run: State now planning to battle evaporation", 5th August 2008, Hindustan Times

The first time, the government is considering a technique to avoid evaporation of water from storage reservoirs of dams. Dr Madhav Chitable, former bureaucrat and water management specialist, suggested this at the disaster management committee meeting on 4th August. On an average, 30 to 40 per cent of water is lost due to evaporation. The technique involves adding a liquid evaporation retardant solution made of cetyl alcohol into the water body so as to form a thin layer, thus avoiding 50 per cent of evaporation. It has been used in dams in Australia and lakes in the United States. For smaller storage tanks, dam covers are useful. However, it has so far not been used in India with any measure of success.

"Centre wants states to chip in more for drinking water plan", 5th August 2008

The government wants to change the funding model under the Accelerated Rural Water Supply Project, or ARWSP, part of the Bharat Nirman programme, which envisages providing safe drinking water to 604,000 villages by 2009. The situation is particularly alarming in "quality affected" habitations. Until May, only 48% of 217,000 such habitations had been covered (or treated) under ARWSP. These are areas where the water has excessive arsenic, fluoride, salinity and nitrates. Such substances are highly harmful, especially arsenic, which can cause diseases such as cancer.

The cabinet note also suggested that the state share equal responsibility of connecting more villages to the safe drinking water network. Until May, 67% of the targeted 55,000 uncovered habitations that have not been connected to the network so far were covered by the project. The government wants to maintain the status quo (by equally sharing the expenses) as regards uncovered habitations.

"The big leak", 5th August 2008, Hindustan Times

Sheikh, for instance, who otherwise claims to be a man of principles, has to pay the bribe because at stake to something none can live without. He spends almost 20% of his measly income of Rs 4,000 a month in getting clean drinking water. The civic water is contaminated, says Sheikh, filling up two glasses - one with the water supplied by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the other with what he buys. The Civic water does look murky. Nihman knows why. "Pilferages in the supply line cause contamination from sewerage. Even at the police station, we cannot drink it," he said. "Water no longer belongs to the community. Commercial interests find it easy to target the water sector in collusion with officials. In watershed management projects, financial leakages are about 30 to 45 per cent of approved amounts," said Rajendra Singh.

"World Bank will help to keep taps running 24/7", 7th August 2008, Daily News and Analysis

Additional municipal commissioner Anil Diggikar said the bank would provide the technical assistance in various phases of the project. BMC conceptualized 'Sujal Mumbai' to have a continuous water supply system in the city. The decision was taken after World Bank's senior sanitary engineer Shyamal Sarkar called upon municipal commissioner Jairaj Phatak, Diggikar and senior officials from the hydraulic department on 6th August with a proposal to extend technical help. "We think that the water supply needs to be improved immediately. We will help BMC meet it goal," Sarkar said. Thought an earlier project of BMC and the bank of improving water distribution in K(east) ward did not end on a bright note, BMC has decided to partner with the bank.

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