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Water -Not Worth The Parchment? Many A Slip To The Sip

NARENDRA BISHT
GOVERNANCE: WATER SUPPLY
Not Worth The Parchment?
All the contracts are generous, but privatised water hasn’t really got our cities overflowing with joy
LOLA NAYAR , Oulook Magazine

Many A Slip To The Sip

  • 30 Number of Indian cities where private sector and MNCs have been roped in by civic bodies to manage the water supply.
  • 0 No project has so far delivered on lofty commitments; most continue to face major opposition from the consuming public and civil society.
  • 100 Average percentage rise in water tariff in cities and urban areas with privatisation projects. More to follow?
  • 0 Obligation on water conservation or sewage treatment by PPPs, even as public funds and manpower is being provided to them.
  • 35 Duration, in years, of management contracts being signed by civic bodies, up from pilot management projects for a few years.

***

Across the road, on the other side of the gleaming new malls of south Delhi, is the older but not quite glamorous settlement of Hauz Rani. It’s summer, holiday time. But every evening, when they ought to be playing, dozens of young children, jerrycans in hand, troop to the nearby colonies and to a public tap near the malls to lug water back home—for drinking, cooking, was­hing and cleaning. The life-sustaining liquid, always in short supply, is evide­ntly scarcer this summer. Not atypical, you’d say, that’s how things are in India.

Now, into this scenario, enters a troika of private companies, promising salvation. Suez, SPML Infra and Degremont, in a consortium, have got a 12-year contract from the Delhi Jal Board to supply 24×7 water over a 14 sq km expanse that includes Hauz Rani. So is salvation really round the corner? Similar projects  from across the country have ominous stories to tell. In Mysore, Nagpur and Khandwa, private efforts to ramp up public water supply are croaking under the weight of expectations. Costs are up, supply erra­tic and discretionary—they have not been above parching the less posh parts so as to cater to the tony neighbourhoods. And in the worst-case scenario, alternative sources of water, like tubewells or public taps, get blocked for good measure. As India prepares to go down the privatised water route, it’s a good juncture to ask, after bijli and sadak, is paani too slipping out of reach of the aam aadmi?


Photograph by Nilotpal Baruah

Mysore, Karnataka

  • Model: PPP contract for remodelling of water supply distribution system of Mysore city
  • Firm & cost: JUSCO; Rs 234.5 crore
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 125 up to 25 KL @ Rs 5/KL, Rs 8/KL from 25–50 KL and so on
  • Proposed tariff: Slab starting from Rs 5/KL for domestic connections
  • Status: Local protest against JUSCO and municipal officials on poor project planning and implementation; Rs 7 crore penalty imposed on JUSCO for various lapses in the project; committee constituted to resolve issues.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook /Manthan

Three more Delhi areas (Vasant Kunj, Mehrauli, Nangloi) have been given over to the public-private partnership (PPP) model that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh tirelessly asserts is the answer to the nation’s ills. All told, the capital is among 30-odd cities where civic bodies have called in private entities, including mncs, to “manage” the water supply. The number is set to go higher as more cities approach the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Mission (JNNURM) which—ironically, considering the man after whom it is named—makes private participation a precondition for financial support.

Civic bodies have been pushed, despite strong protests, into experimenting with the PPP model. The government’s justification has been that the private sector will bring in investments, technology and management efficiency, none of which a cash-strapped public sector can offer. Yet a study of 13 private water and sanitation projects by the Planning Commission has praise for none. In four cases—Latur, Mysore, Dewas and Khandwa—the project viability has itself been questioned.


Photograph by Sanjay Rawat

Delhi, NCR

  • Model: Build, operate and maintain for 12-15 years in three pilot projects
  • Current tariff: Rs 600/month average
  • Proposed tariff: DJB to decide
  • Firms and cost: Suez, SPML Infra and Degremont (Malviya Nagar); SPML Infra, Tahal Consulting and Hagihon Jerusalem Water (Mehrauli and Vasant Kunj); Suez and SPML combine (Nangloi); Rs 253.30 crore
  • Status: Survey work has started in proposed areas for improving infrastructure. Activists are questioning the logic of DJB outsourcing O&M while providing all raw material.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

When the state cedes control of as vital a public asset as water, it allows business to hold the poor to ransom and fleece them.

But the march towards privatisation  continues. Current models of pub­lic-pri­vate water partnerships are div­erse, from refurbishing the infrastructure to service contracts for billing, collection and met­ering. At present, most projects are foc­u­sing on distribution improvement. Even so, only a few places have seen experiments with citywide distribution, with hardly encouraging results at that. Many more projects are coming up: Naya Rai­pur in Chhattisgarh has decided to give its water distribution contract to Jindal Co on the PPP model. Kolhapur, Maharashtra, has the distinction of being the first to go in for PPP for sewage treatment.

“Six years ago, activists and residents’ welfare associations in Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore were able to stall a World Bank-led move to have the private sector take over water supply projects by making it a condition for granting loans,” says S.A. Naqvi of the Citizens’ Front for Water Democracy. “Ironically, the Centre is now taking exactly the same route through JNNURM.” It’s nob­ody’s case that India’s moribund water supply system is not in dire need of help, as the Hauz Rani scenario illustrates. It’s also not that its residents would be cussedly averse to paying; anyone who has sampled Delhi’s ‘machine ka thanda paani’ knows service doe­sn’t come free. But as water PPPs begin to come apart, the que­stion is not whether citizens should pay for unlimited use of a finite commodity like water, but to whom and how much? When Hauz Rani’s saviours, the neighbouring colonies, receive water for a mere two and a half hours a day, the answer isn’t so easy. The Delhi PPP experience is not unique:

  • In Mysore, JUSCO, a Tata enterprise, has faced severe time overruns, paid penalties and faced pubic outrage
  • In Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, all indications are of the project being unsustainable in the long run
  • In Latur, Maharashtra, SPML has been forced to hand back the water supply management to a government entity after local opposition.

“The results of PPP projects in urban water supply in India—even globally—aren’t encouraging. They don’t seem to be the solution that they were thought to be,” says Gaurav Dwivedi of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, a study group. “These are expensive projects and municipal bodies are at risk of losing control of water supply to private companies due to long contract periods from which there is no getting out.”


Photograph by Vivek Pateria

Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh

  • Model: PPP Build Own Transfer (BOT) concession contract for 25 years
  • Firm and cost: Vishwa Infrastructure; Rs 115.32 crore
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 150 per month/connection
  • Proposed tariff: Rs 11.95/KL
  • Status: Construction phase ongoing, delayed by around two years. Investigations by JNNURM expert committee on irregularities. Local committee formed to look into people’s objections to privatisation including removal of non-revenue water, loss of municipal control, tariff hikes, etc.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

On paper, the case for privatisation of water supply, like telephony and aviation, seemed sound. Meeting the growing water demands of growing cities requ­i­red high investment. Better quality water called for sophisticated infrastru­cture. The private sector held the allure of money, technology, and also its famed managerial skills in implementation, delivery, acc­ou­ntability. Win-win. In reality, however, the experience has been quite the opposite as the state willingly cedes control over a vital public asset such as water under the garb of a PPP and watches haplessly as the poor are fleeced.

In many cities, private companies have brought little to the table. Naqvi says all the contracts awarded actually “have mechanisms to ensure the private parties don’t have to put in any of their own investments. During the initial two and a half years of the pilot projects, when the consortiums will be doing distribution, Delhi Jal Board will be paying very high management fees, besides the power bill, delivering treated water at the colony and providing its own employees to the private partner free of cost.”


Photograph by Sangeeta Mahajan

Nagpur, Maharashtra

  • Model: PPP contract for distribution, operation and maintenance and uninterrupted water supply (24×7) for 25 years
  • Firm and cost: Veolia Water and Vishwaraj Environment; Rs 566 crore
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 150–200 per month/connection
  • Proposed tariff: Rs 7.90/KL
  • Status: Several problems arising in project implementation, from steep water tariff hikes, dissatisfaction with meters, increased water consumption in demo zone after project implementation etc

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

“The results of PPP projects in India are not encouraging,” says Gaurav Dwivedi. “They don’t seem to be the solution they were thought to be.”

On top of that, private companies are seen to be tinkering with that invaluable (and often scarce) commodity called democracy. Despite initial hiccups, electricity distribution saw some improvements after privatisation in cities like Delhi due to the presence of multiple sources of power. But private water companies have to depend on a finite number of sources. Diminishing rainfall, depleting water tables and raging wars between states have seen water become scarcer. So, supplying 24×7 water to one area in a city as promised by a private operator means depriving a number of other areas of their rightful due. It also means creating an artificial demand with an eye on the bottomline.

Worse, says Prof U.N. Ravi Kumar, a Mysore-based water consultant who has been engaged in the revival of water bodies. Private water suppliers are not making any effort to look at issues like waste water management or conserving water resources, he says. “All the projects we hear about are presentations by the companies and project promoters. Governments can easily get swayed by promises of 24×7 supply.” In other words, the private players have sold a pipe dream and are getting access to exploit and monetise public water resources without adding to it.


Photograph by AFP, From Outlook 24 June 2013

Hubli, Karnataka

  • Model: PPP contract for provision of 24/7 continuous water supply including refurbishment of distribution network
  • Firm and cost: Veolia Water; Rs 235.10 crore
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 90 per month per connection
  • Proposed tariff: Rs 6/ KL for 0-8 KL, Rs 10/KL for 8-15 KL, Rs 15 for 15-25 KL and minimum charge of Rs 48 per month
  • Status: Questions about the lack of transparency in the project particularly with respect to the tariff structure; uncertainty about financial implications for local people when support is removed.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

In many cities where private operators have moved in, anecdotal evidence shows that, while the rich and well-off can be assured of better supplies at a higher cost, those defaulting on even one bill end up paying dearly with water supplies being stopped. While private players have been relentless in enforcing the rules on individual domestic connections, they seem to have fallen prey to their political masters while dealing with commercial connections—which usually default on a much larger scale than domestic ones.

Ashok Govindpurkar, a veteran Nat­ionalist Congress Party councillor from Latur, says they were widely supported in their protest against private management of water supply in their city of four lakh population as households having or seeking to instal a handpump needed to get permission. “The cost of a water connection for Rs 1,700 plus a meter cost of Rs 2,400 was a huge burden on the poor,” he says. Adds Gaurav Dwivedi of Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, “Water PPPs do not have a pro-poor orientation even tho­ugh this is the section of the community, especially in urban settings, which needs water supply and sanitation services at low costs on an urgent basis.” It does not call for any particular political bent to see that, in India, this would only worsen the country’s overall indices.

The private companies complain about being demonised. “In Latur, water was supplied once a week before we took over. We improved the situation and supplied it on alternate days,” says Rishabh Sethi, exe­cutive director, SPML. “The lack of support and coordination between government entities with respect to their contractual obligation has been the main reason for the project being kept in abeyance. Plus plentiful local opposition, including from local political groups.”


Photograph by Amit Haralkar

Latur, Maharashtra

  • Model: Management contract for 10 years
  • Firm & Cost: SPML; Fixed management fee (IRR of 19.6 per cent)
  • Earlier tariff: Rs 100/month
  • Proposed tariff: Rs 150 (plus meter cost of Rs 2,400 + connection cost Rs 1,700)
  • Status: The first case where a private management contract has been rolled back following three years of protests by people and most political parties barring Congress. The project has now been given to a public sector entity.

The average middle-class consumption of water is 20-30 KL per month; City profiles by Outlook/Manthan

In Mysore, JUSCO’s plea for renegotiation of the contract is meeting with widespread opposition. Despite some benefits having accrued to ‘chronic problem’ localities in the city, many other areas are seeing a drop in supplies. Ditto Nagpur, where the distribution project was extended to cover the whole city even before the assessment of the pilot was done. “I don’t think private participation has worked anywhere in India for a sufficiently long period or provided a credible appraisal performance,” says water activist Himanshu Thakkar.

JUSCO is not the only company trying to renegotiate the terms of its contract, but the Mysore city corporation is in a fix. It is facing a financial squeeze and has no answer to the public ire. Also, there’s  little option of throwing out the private company without inviting protracted litigation. With the long-term contracts loaded in favour of private companies, civic bodies are caught between a rock and a hard place. And the only way out, it seems, is to wait like its counterparts in Europe and declare water supply a public sector operation after the contract runs out.

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Maharashtra -Ready to risk anything for water #mustread

Swatee Kher : Osmanabad, Wed Feb 20 2013, 11:57 hrs

Sitting beside a well in Pimpri village, a metal pot at his feet, 70-year-old Vaman Bidbaug hopes he will meet a passerby willing to climb down the well’s 110 steps and fetch him a potful of water. Bidbaug, a farmer, owns about four acres, but hasn’t sown for two seasons.

Nearly 1,500 villagers of Pimpri, 18 km from Osmanabad city, climb down the steep steps along the walls every morning and evening to fill two pots. With two consecutively poor monsoons, it is the only well in the village still left with any water. Villagers often trip on the steps and injure themselves, but that is a small price to pay.

“We don’t expect good rainfall here, but through my life I have never seen rivers and wells going dry as they are now. We had water in the other wells even when it did not rain in 2002, and earlier,” says Bidbaug.

The drought across the state has hit 7,064 villages, with 11 of 35 districts having received less than 75 per cent of normal rainfall.

Bidbaug’s two sons gave up on farming years ago and migrated to cities, a trend in the perenially parched Osmanabad, Beed and Jalna regions. In Gandhora of Osmanabad district, Dasu Parshuram Ade, 23, is preparing to move to Pune or Satara, having sold his two bullocks at Rs 30,000 each. He had bought each at Rs 1 lakh in 2009, after a good sugarcane crop.

“I could not have borne to see them die, so I sold them. Now I’m free to go,” he says. “I hope to earn enough there so that my family can buy water from tankers here.”

Water is disappearing from the rivers, wells and reservoirs of Maharashtra‘s heartland, 13 districts across Marathwada, parts of Western Maharashtra and Khandesh. Jayakwadi, the largest dam in Maharashtra, has no live storage. Put together, reservoirs in Maharashtra are just 40 per cent full now with levels expected to keep falling.

The state has drawn extreme plans for the extreme crisis, including transporting water through rail wagons or shifting entire villages in Jalna, the district worst hit with rainfall less than 25 per cent of normal. The crisis there extends beyond the rural interiors and up to Jalna city. The city has 45 water supply zones, and one, two or three of these (depending on size) are supplied municipal council water on any day. “This effectively means that people get water in their taps once every 20 days, for not more than an hour. People hoard up as much water as they can and, once that runs out, turn to private tankers,” says Rajesh More, engineer in the Jalna Municipal Council’s water supply department. He too depends on private tankers at home.

Tankers provided by the government visit Walki and Gunavadi villages in Ahmadnagar, the state’s largest district, once every four days and pour water into the village wells. Valmik Nagavade, sarpanch of Gunavdi, says the allotment is based on the 2001 census. “We get 20 litres per person based on the 2001 census but our families have grown in those 12 years,” he says. “We bathe on alternate days with just two litres.”

 

Rain check

7,064 of 43,722 villages declared drought-hit

Less than 25% rainfall: 5 talukas out of 355, including those in Jalna district

25-50%: 50 talukas

50-75%: 136 talukas, including those in Dhule, Jalgaon, Ahmadnagar, Pune, Solapur, Sangli, Aurangabad, Beed, Osmanabad, Nanded districts

5-year low: Storage levels in reservoirs

 

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Irrigation scam 2.0 ? Threat to forest land in Maharashtra

 More than 150 hectares of pristine forest in Sawantwadi, 500km south of Mumbai on the MaharashtraGoa border, could be submerged along with homes, temples and sacred groves for an irrigation project that its opponents say is actually aimed at supplying water to proposed mines and an industrial zone in the eco-sensitive region, which is also a wildlife corridor.

In this season of irrigation scams in Maharashtra, locals and non-government organisations question the rationale behind spending tax-payers’ money on building the Saram-bala medium irrigation project on river Dabhil in a region with an average annual rainfall of 4,000mm. Besides, documents with HT reveal that nine of the 15 villages that are to get water from it are also beneficiaries of the Tillari and Talamba dams, two large projects in the final stages of construction.

Moreover, the Konkan Irrig-ation Development Corporation’s (KIDC) willingness to supply double the sanctioned amount of 5.820 million cubic metres of water to a proposed industrial area (according to the project report) as well as the proposed Zolambe mines owned by the Sindhudurg Mining Corp. Pvt. Ltd. (HT has a copy of the letter) has angered villagers and they are refusing to part with their land.

“With heavy rainfall in the district and perennial water streams flowing through all the villages, the government can build small check dams and mini reservoirs that can supply water to the remaining villages. Why does the government want to submerge forest land for an irrigation project,” asks Balkrishna Gavas, resident of Dabhil whose ancestral home and agricultural land are in the submergence area.

“With five irrigation projects proposed in the region, the Sarambala project is ill-conceived. With the project agreeing to supply water to a proposed mine and with more mines planned in more than ten villages below Dabhil, it seems like the project has been undertaken to facilitate mining operations in the eco-sensitive region,” said environmentalist Stalin D of Vanashakti, a non-government organisation. In fact, there are about proposals for 32 mines in the Sawantadi-Dodamarg region.

Environmentalists also question claims by the KIDC in its project report that Sarambala will have negligible impact on wildlife. According to them, the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg region is an important part of the Sahyadri-Konkan wildlife corridor, which connects the Koyna and Radhanagari wildlife sanctuaries and the Chandoli national park in the state with wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in Goa and Karnataka.

“The project site also has ancient sacred groves and temples contrary to the forest department’s claims that there are no religious, cultural or archaeological  sites on the land,” said Stalin.

The Sarambala project was envisaged in 1994 at a cost of Rs. 56.15 crore, which was raised to Rs. 184.3 crore in 2004. Till March 2012, Rs. 54.67 crore was spent on construction, acquisition and administrative work. So work on it can continue under the norms set by the state government’s recent white paper on irrigation:  more than 25% of the proposed budget has been exhausted and 35% of the work has been completed.

The total area under the project is 753.55 hectares. Of the 295.62 hectares across three villages that will go under water, 152.79 hectares is forest land. Till now, 110 hectares of forest land has been transferred to the irrigation department, while the remaining 42.79 hectares has been identified.

Though the irrigation department received approval in principle from the union environment and forest ministry in 2009, the state government has to pay Rs. 30.43 crore as net present value to the forest department for final clearance.

  • #India-Bt failure to hit cotton yield by 40%: Govt (kractivist.wordpress.com)

 

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Independence Day, Gram Sabha Meeting, Goons & Chemplast Sanmar #blackday15august

 

Piyush Manush, in Salem , 15/8/2012


Chemplast Sanmar has dumped huge quantities of Chemicals & Heavy Metals which is constantly polluting our drinking water source the Kaveri and has killed 500 odd wells by turning the water toxic. It has made lives difficult people in its vicinity by severe air, water & soil pollution it has caused.
Sreela, a campaigner from Chennai working on the Mettur issue has been mobilizing people to attend the Gram Sabha meeting slated to be held on the Independence day. Sreela along with Madesh & Ganesh anna from GWADU, Gonur West Agriculturists Union were having tea before proceeding to the Gram Sabha meeting, were intercepted by 15 goons led by kalai kovan,a ruling party functionary. They used very slang & filthy language against Sreela outraging all modesty and went on to threaten her with murder if they found her working on pollution in mettur.

The activists were stopped from going to the Gram Sabha Meeting and were warned of severe consequences if they went on to attend the meeting. For two days notices were printed on behalf of the union and were distributed in the villages asking them to attend the Gram Sabha Meeting. The people gathered in quite sizeable numbers for the meet. Madesh & Ganesh anna refused to be intimidated by the threats and went ahead to attend the meeting and also presented demands on behalf of the union and the pollution affected communities.The Company goons had threatened about any campaign against the PVC manufacturer Chemplast Sanmar. The company has been using all tactics to quite any murmur of protest. Sreela has launched a complaint against Kalai Kovan and his goons. A CSR has been issued by the karmalaikoodal police station. It is proposed to be present in large numbers tomorrow to force the SP to act against the Goons and to get to the people who had planned the attack.

I will seek an appointment with the SP tomorrow and would request all those who have read this to be present. The Pollution & loot needs to be tackled as it is our & our children lives which are at stake.

 

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Man with bright idea saves 50m gallons of drinking water a day #Goodnews

 

Overflowing Modak Sagar water redirected to Tansa
Man with bright idea saves 50m gallons of drinking water a day
Yogesh.Naik @timesgroup.com, Mumbai Mirror

If the city gets through the next 12 months without suffering a severe water crisis despite what has been an extremely poor monsoon, citizens will have a retired civic engineer to thank.
Prakash Limaye, who retired from the BMC‘s Waterworks department earlier this year, is based 100 km from Mumbai and is single-handedly saving nearly 50 million gallons of potable water — enough for 1 million people daily — from flowing into the Arabian Sea every day. On an average, Mumbai consumes 750 million gallons of water a day.
The idea itself is a combination of simplicity and common sense — terms not easily associated with the civic body.
Located 22 kms apart, Tansa and Modak Sagar dams are chief sources of drinking water to Mumbai. With below average rainfall this season, the water level at the 19-sq-km Tansa lake on Tansa river has stayed well below the desired level.
On the other hand, the eight-sq-km Modak Sagar, situated on the banks of Vaitarna river, started overflowing last week, and the city would have lost millions of gallons of drinking water to the sea had it not been for Limaye’s plan.
The pipeline connecting Modak Sagar to Mumbai passes through the periphery of Tansa. Limaye’s plan involves opening up valves on the pipelines at points closest to Tansa, thereby enabling the excess water to flow into Tansa instead of being wasted.
There are 30 scour valves passing through Tansa, each capable of releasing an average of 10 million gallons of water into the lake. At the moment, the BMC is opening 5-8 valves a day — saving close to 50 million gallons of drinking water in the process every day. In all, 400 million gallons of water have been banked over the last eight days.
Limaye, who has built his retirement home just 2 km from Tansa, is helping sub-engineer Vilas Aher in the operation. These valves need to be opened and shut manually — in fact, with a wrench — every day.
“Modak Sagar fills up quickly and overflows when there is a consistent rainfall of 900 mm, while Tansa requires around 1300-1400 mm of rainfall to fill to the brim. This year, we realised that it would be difficult to fill Tansa, so we proposed that the valves of the pipes that pass on its periphery be opened up,” Limaye said.
“We have opened up five scours of the pipe coming from Modak Sagar towards Tansa and also stopped the water supply (daily share of 100 million gallons) from Tansa. As a result, the level of Tansa goes up by a foot (0.33 metres) daily. Each day, nearly 50 million gallons of water gets transferred from Modak Sagar to Tansa,” Aher said.
Limaye, incidentally, had drawn up this blueprint in 2009, but a delay in getting the required approvals ensured that it was too late by the time the idea was implemented. That year, the city had to face acute water shortage, with the BMC imposing 15 per cent cuts on residential consumers.
With adequate rainfall in the next two years, the idea was as good as shelved. But with the monsoons barely registering, Limaye was at hand to prevent the taps from running dry.

 

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10,000 Naxal villages to get 24 into 7 water supply, courtesy solar

You in India‘s top cities may envy around one-fifth of total villages in 78 naxal affected districts set to get around the clock tap water supply, courtsey solar energy. Three Central government ministries — New and Renewable Energy, Drinking Water and Sanitation and Finance — have

come together to provide 24 into 7 clean drinking water to 10,000 villages in the Naxalaffected districts under the Integrated Action Plan of the Central government.A solar energy based drinking water supply system has already changed lives of villagers in naxal affected Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra where solar energy based dual pump piped water supply system has been installed.

A one horse power (HP) solar energy based submersible pump is installed in existing high yielding bore well and the pumped water is stored in 5000 litre water tanks. The water from these tanks is supplied to about 250 homes in a village.

And, the cost of the project for a village is low (about Rs. five lakh) because the non-polluting solar system is not a battery — high cost — operated. The water pumped during the day gets stored in the tanks for supply around the clock.

Despite the government spending crore of rupees in bridging the development deficit in the Naxal affected areas, clean drinking water still remains a major concern. In over 90% of villages in 120 Naxal influence districts, women have to walk half a kilometer a day or more to fetch drinking water. And, in summer months the travel increases as many ground sources of water turn dry.

The success of the project in Gadchiroli, which has also resulted in improvement of socio-economic condition of the villagers, has shown the government as possible way-out of ensuring some drinking water to these villages.

The thought has enabled the drinking water ministry to replicate project in a tleast 10,000 villages at a cost of about Rs. 500 crore.
The villages being chosen are the ones with population between 150-250 as the solar system enables is about to pump water for maximum of 250 people in a day. Also these villages are most remote in the 78 naxal districts spread across nine states.

To make the effort collaborative, three ministries are set to join hands.
The ministry of new and renewable energy would be providing a subsidy at a rate of Rs. 70 per watt to install solar water pumping system. The Finance Ministry’s Clean Energy Development Fund could pay for some of the cost (Rs 229 crore) and rest would be borne by the drinking water ministry.

“Once the national clean energy fund clears the project we will seek Cabinet approval for its implementation,” a senior government official said.
The government believes that all these villages can get regular water supply system within 18 months of approval as on site project implementation is possible and state governments have expertise to implement the project. For five years, the villagers can run and maintain the hassle free system.
That will make it India’s biggest solar energy driven water project.

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Death Toll up to 7 in Riots over Water Tanker Killing in Mumbai

Mar 2, 2012-The driver of the water tanker, Suresh Salve succumbed to his injuries in hospital, as the death toll in the ‘water tanker riot’ rose to 7. Harish Malvade, the guard who fired the first shot killing Pradeep Amre, the 11 year old boy from the local slum, is fighting for his life even as the police waits to question him. Sources say the gun was unlicensed.

The riot apparently broke out as the people from the slum tried to stop the tanker and ask for water. The driver tried to force the tanker through the crowd, injuring some people, and riot broke out. The driver was pulled out and almost beaten to death.

Meanwhile the parents of the boy, Pradeep Amre are leading a morcha of over a 100 slum dwellers demanding an investigation into why a thirsty young school boy was shot for trying to steal a water from the tanker. The Mumbai police are trying to bring the situation under control as the riots threaten to spread to other parts of Mumbai. The water situation continues to be precarious and water tankers are being brought in to Mumbai, but are often unable to get to their destination as they are waylaid by armed gangs.

This is the 3rd day of no piped water supply in Mumbai.

More here

 

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