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

"Battle the bottle, tap nature's water", undated, The Asian Age

Garrison Keillor writes about the growing trend of using bottled water instead of tap water like in the good old days. According to him "Enough. Man is capable of reform once presented with the facts is that bottling water and shipping it is a big waste of fuel, so stop it already. The water that comes to your house through a pipe is good enough and maybe better".

  "Mangroves killed with World Bank Aid", 7 th January 2008 , Daily News and Analysis

At least 50 housing societies have come up within 50 metres of the coastline on mangrove land. And to build these, World Bank funds have been used.

This gross violation of the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) rule has been alleged in a confidential
report by the vigilance department of Mahrashtra Housing and Area Development Authority (Mhada). It has demanded an inquiry to find out how Mhada gave the go-ahead to these constructions in complete disregard to CRZ guidelines and the directives framed by Bombay High Court in this regard.

In its report submitted to Mhada vice-president T Chandrasekhar and Bipin Kumar Shrimali, chief officer of Mumbai Board, the vigilance department has furnished a list of 36 highrises on the marshy lands in Charkop, Kandivili.

A loan of Rs300 crore was issued by World Bank to Mhada for developing barren plots to facilitate construction of middle and low-income group housing societies. Accordingly, the housing board identified 49,000 such plots in the suburban coastal areas of Charkop, Gorai, Malvani, Versova and Mulund. BMC and MMRDA were given the responsibility of providing infrastructure for the plots.

DY Haddhare, chief engineer, Mumbai Board, said that thousands of societies came up under the project. They were handed over developed plots, along with loans to construct 250-400 sq ft tenements and 600-1,000 sq ft row houses.

The vigilance department has also observed that in more than 2000 of these societies, builders have bought houses from the original members, defeating the very purpose of developing these plots. It has ordered cancellation of membership of these societies.

"Dying a slow death?" 8th January 2008 , The Times of India

The Holy city of Allahabad holds the Magh Mela where nearly five lakh people are expected in the month and these people will take a bath in the Ganga on Makar Sankranti day. The deteriorating quality and diminishing levels of the Ganga water apart, conflicting statements issued by those who matter have worsened the situation. During his visit to review the Mela preparations, Uttar Pradesh Urban Development Minister Nakul Dube shocked everyone by declaring that the Ganga water was neither fit for bathing nor drinking. Chief patrons of the Ganga Sena feel that the taming of the river at Tehri and Narora was the main factor behind the river's slow death. The Ganga Sena wants the current year to be declared as Ganga Swakhsata (clean Ganga ) year and world heritage status to the holy river.

  "Rehabilitation plan barely stays afloat", 15 th January 2008 , Daily News and Analysis

The 2005 deluge that washed away 14,142 houses in 71 villages in 13 districts, including Satara, Raigad and Nashik, has left bitter memories in the minds of the affected villagers who are yet to be rehabilitated completely. The 71 flood-affected villages had been identified for rehabilitation by the state Relief and Rehabilitation (R&R) department. However, in nearly 25 per cent of these, even the first stage of rehabilitation has not begun.

A major hurdle in rehabilitation work was the acquisition of land in many of the cases. Though the state has not been able to rehabilitate these villages over the past two-and-a-half-years, it has set the target of complete rehabilitation by the end of 2009. The R&R department has now invited expressions of interest to appoint an agency to implement the Rs76-crore project of building 2,600 houses in 14 villages in Parbhani and Yavatmal. Of the 14,142 houses that were totally washed out in the floods, 3,496 were located in the suburbs of Mumbai and in Thane. In Sangli district, 6,155 houses were washed out, which the largest number of houses is washed out in the natural calamity.

The R&R Secretary Ramesh Kumar said though five out of the 71 villages have no land to available for rehabilitation, the department was trying to find a solution for the problem. "We have appointed an NGO in Sindhudurg to rehabilitate 248 households in 10 villages in Chiplun, Sangmeshwar and Mandangadh." Kumar added that the ascertainment of the flood line in the flood-prone villages was complete by nearly 75 per cent.

  "Team visits Kerala's water-scarce areas", 21 st January, 2008 , The Hindu

District Collector K.S. Sreenivas along with District Superintendent of Police Vijay Sakhare and senior officials of the Revenue, Police and Water Resources Department on Sunday visited the water-scarce areas of Vadakarapathy, Eruthempathy, Ozhalpathy, Pattancherry and Perumatty villages in the border areas of Chittur taluk where water is allegedly used as a weapon to practise "hidden untouchability and social discrimination." The report states that "the most deplorable and shocking aspect is the prevailing social discrimination between the rich landlord and the poor working classes living in the border areas of Kuppandakoundannur in Ozhalapathy village in Vadakarapathy panchayat. This contributes to the unequal distribution of potable water at the delivery end; the worst affected being the less affluent. Untouchability may have been abolished on paper, but it still continues in a hidden unseen way in many areas bordering Tamil Nadu." The PUCL petition said: "What has been disclosed in the newspaper report [ The Hindu , January 17] is sheer violation of human rights and a shameful attack on humanity. Thus, stringent action against the offenders should be taken by the Human Rights Commission."

  "5000 trees will pave way for city's water needs", 22 nd January 2008, Daily News and Analysis

As many as 5000 trees in Thane district will be axed to pave way for pipelines for the multi-crore Middle Vaitarna project which, on completion will add another 455 million litres the city's daily water needs. The trees are located in the 36km dense region between Asghai to Gundavali in Thane district and will be cut to lay pipelines. Pramod Charankar, chief engineer, water supply projects, said the tree felling has the permission of the forest department and the Centre that has agreed to fund the Rs.600 crore project under JNNURM. To avoid any further delay in the project which was first conceptualised in 1995, the civic administration has decided to accept a proposal to allow cutting of trees by the forest department employing local tribals for the work. . Charankar said, "The expenditure for the project will be met by auctioning the wood of the felled trees. We will transplant as many trees as possible".

  "Thane residents take to streets to protest water cuts", 25 th January 2008 , The Hindustan Times

Not a drop of water once a week, and a supply for only 30 minutes to two hours on other days have resulted in protests in Thane district. The recent state government decision to implement a further 20 percent cut on the water supply has added to resident woes. The ruling Lok Bharti Party of Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation led a demonstration on Thursday against the state's decision on water supply. There were demonstrations in Ulhasnagar , Kalyan, Dombivli, Ambernath, Badlapur and Mira-Bhayendar. Calling it Ghadanaad (making noise with pots), the agitators beat empty utensils and pots to draw the government's attention to the water woes. Shiv Sena legislator Eknath Shinde said people were already facing a severe water scarcity , thanks to frequent loadshedding and weekly suspension of water supply. Now a 20% cut had made life miserable for the people, he said.

Sameer Unhaale, Commissioner, Ulhasnagar Municipal Corporation said they had chalked out a plan for equal distribution of water for in all areas of the district everyday.

 

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