• ‘Ground water must be recharged’

  • `Ragpickers can be catalyst to cleaner environment'

  • White House official dismisses Kyoto climate protocol

  • Rain water harvesting catching on, but slowly

  • ‘Ground water must be recharged’

    THE TIMES OF INDIA [10 JUNE, 2002]

    NEW DELHI: Delhi demands about 800 million gallons of water every day, of which the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) supplies only 650 MGD. The city has to meet the remaining demand from its ground water resources.

    The DJB says supply from available resources can be raised to 950 MGD by 2007, by which time, needless to say, the demand will be much higher.Ground water resources are not endless and need to be recharged. Rain water harvesting is the only solution.

    According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), rain water harvesting systems can meet about 10 per cent of the total demand of the national capital territory of Delhi.

    The current population of NCT Delhi is about 1.35 crore. The per capita requirement per day for mega-cities is about 200 litres. That would mean that the annual water requirement for NCT would be 98.5 crore cubic metres. If the average rooftop area of NCT is taken as 140 square kilometres, one can harvest about 9 crore cubic metres of water every year.


    `Ragpickers can be catalyst to cleaner environment'

    THE HINDU [10 JUNE, 2002]
    By Karthik Subramanian

    CHENNAI, June 9. They are branded as ``trouble makers'' despite the important role that they play in segregating the reusable waste from garbage. If only they refrained from burning waste at the garbage dumping or transfer yards, the ragpickers of the city and adjoining municipalities could become the catalyst to a cleaner environment.

    But the common practice of setting the garbage on fire has not only become an eye sore for the civic officials but also incurred the wrath of several road-users and local residents. Roads adjoining such dumping yards have gained notoriety for being dangerous stretches. The residents living there are eternal grumblers of the inefficiency on the civic agencies in controlling the situation.

    On Saturday, a fire was blazing at the Corporation Zone III garbage transfer yard on Basin Bridge Road at around 10 a.m. The smoke that billowed out to the roads made it difficult for the road-users. The ``culprits'' were the local ragpickers, who visit the yard usually during the weekends.

    Corporation officials have tried everything from manning the yard to putting up boards to even dumping debris to partially block one of the entrances. But such efforts have only been in vain.

    This is only an additional burden to the solid waste managers of the city, who are already in a fix with a fleet of rickety conservancy vehicles, most of which do not even have fitness certificates. On Saturday, out of the 177 garbage clearance lorries, only 156 were operating. The count was 112 out of 131 with respect to the light motor vehicles.

    Owing to the poor run of vehicles, garbage has been accumulating in most transfer yards. Only to benefit the ragpickers and discomfort the road-users and the residents.

    Similar problems are also faced by the road-users of the MTH Road in Avadi at a stretch from Hindu College to the Pattabiram railway station, where a vacant area belonging to the Railways has been used to dump garbage by the municipality itself.

    While the Corporation and the municipality concerned are groping to tackle the issue of the ragpickers, a rather ``unconventional'' solution is suggested by the Manual on Municipal Solid Waste Management prepared by an expert committee constituted by the Ministry of Urban Development in 1998.

    According to the Manual, the ragpickers could be elevated to posts of ``waste collectors''. With the involvement of NGOs and voluntary organisations, the waste collectors could be organised to collect garbage from shops and other establishments in the morning itself.

    They could segregate the ``reusable'' waste such as metal scrap and dump the ``non-reusable'' waste, which could be taken up by the civic agencies. ``The recyclable material received by the waste collectors directly from the shop could give them better returns. The waste would be dry and not soiled and could fetch them a better price,'' the manual says.

    A senior official with the Solid Waste department in the Corporation said similar attempts were made in Zone IX during the mid-90s.

    ``It did not work out because some of the ragpicker associations started expecting money for their work. But we are not averse to the idea now. If any voluntary organisation or NGO is willing to take up the cause, we will extend total cooperation.''

    Most of the scrap markets are present in north Chennai and Saidapet. The recyclable waste is usually transported to the scrap yards during weekends in fish carts. Ragpickers earn anything between Rs. 50 and 100 everyday. But owing to their occupation, most of them suffer from various diseases.


    White House official dismisses Kyoto climate protocol


    WASHINGTON: A top White House official on Sunday dismissed the Kyoto Protocol, the first coordinated world response to tackling global warming by requiring industrialized countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. "The so-called Kyoto treaty would not do anything to mitigate the problems of global climate change," said White House chief of staff Andrew Card on Fox News Sunday. "There are better ways to go."

    The UN protocol calls for industrialized countries to cut their emissions to below 1990 levels by 2008-2012. The accord was drawn up as a framework agreement in Kyoto, western Japan, in 1997, and fleshed out over the following four years to include a book of rules and procedures. It has now been ratified by all 15 European Union members and Japan. The United States, which accounted for 36.1 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in 1990, is not participating in the effort. While acknowledging the negative effects of global warming, the United States has rejected the accord on the grounds it would cost too many jobs at a time of economic uncertainty. "The president has a much better response to the global climate debate than the Kyoto Protocol," Card said, explaining that markets should play a role in bringing about changes. "If the United States were to adopt the Kyoto Protocol and take all of its mandate through our economy, we would put a lot people out of work. We would not have the growing economy that the rest of the world demands," he said.


    Rain water harvesting catching on, but slowly

    THE TIMES OF INDIA [10 JUNE, 2002]

    NEW DELHI: Delhi’s ground water levels are fast depleting; Some areas are ‘vulnerable’, with water levels having dropped by over 8 metres. About 60-70 per cent of Delhi is ‘vulnerable’. These include south, southwest, central, west and New Delhi districts.

    During 1960-2000, water levels dropped by about 10 metres in Najafgarh, 20 metres in Mehrauli.

    The list of casualties could go on. And this is the city’s chance to make a turnaround. According to the meteorological department, the monsoon is progressing normally and should hit Delhi by June 29, bringing a rainfall of about 65 cm, the average the city has recorded over the years. This means that one has all of two weeks to get one’s act together and reap a liquid harvest.

    Especially, if the city is to recover lost ground. This season’s first rainfall of 13 cm could have generated enough water to run over 1,000 tubewells for 100 days. The Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) says this amount of rain could have recharged ground water levels by a whopping 1,930 crore litres.

    Curiously, the government has no centralised data on how much rain water the city will be able to harvest this monsoon. Several government departments, hotels, group housing societies and individuals have made inquiries, sought design plans and put rain water harvesting systems in place. ‘‘We have been asking people who use our designs to tell us when they are operational. Some do get back, but there is no system to get every information seeker to report back on whether the systems are in place or not,’’ said a senior official of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB).

    So, at best, we can only get a rough estimate. The CGWB alone — by March this year — had provided assistance and plans to 520 locations, including some institutions such as the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Central Public Works Department (CPWD), New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Delhi Cantonment, Military Engineering Services, group housing societies, educational establishments and hotels. ‘‘Since then, we have received another 200 to 300 requests for assistance. Now, each of our plans are designed to accommodate one hour’s rainfall at a time. Going by an estimate of about 619 mm of rainfall this season, each structure can harvest about 400 cubic metres of water. If 800 of our structures are in place by the rainy season, we can harvest about 32 crore litres of water this year,’’ a CGWB official said.

    The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has 155 structures in place. ‘‘We have about eight lakh square metres of roof surfaces for harvesting. We hope to harvest about 45 crore litres of water this year,’’ said Kawaljeet Singh, superintending engineer, in charge of DJB’s rain water harvesting project.

    Singh, however, is not very hopeful that all the 150-odd inquiries that the DJB receives every day will be converted into concrete water harvesting systems. ‘‘Only about half the number of inquiries actually move a step forward to collect data and plans. Many people back out as soon as they realise that the DJB will not fund the project. In fact, when we visited some fairly well-to-do colonies, out of the 300 houses just 10 residents were willing to contribute towards a water harvesting project,’’ he said.

    This calls for greater credit to residential colonies like Panchshila Park, Vasant Vihar and Karol Bagh who have put up rain water harvesting systems.

    The Central Pollution Control Board, too has installed a rooftop harvesting system at its Parivesh Bhavan headquarters. With a catchment area of 1,400 square metres, the building can harvest up to 960 cubic metres of water every year. The Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) also has been inundated with calls for plans. In the last one month it has firmed up over 30 plans for various individuals and institutions. Of these, approximately 50 per cent have actually implemented the plans.

    ‘‘We are also developing seven model projects in the city for people to follow,’’ said Ekalavya Prasad, CSE’s networking executive for rain water harvesting projects.

    ‘‘We have been harvesting water in our office in Tughlakabad Institutional Area since 1999. About 50 per cent of the rain water is harvested through the rooftops and paved area, which is about 3.5 lakh litres every season. Despite the heavy construction on in the area — which depends largely on ground water reserves — we have been able to sustain the ground water levels here,’’ he said.

    A CGWB official sums it up: ‘‘We have been able to build a consciousness among people about the need to harvest water. What we now need to do is make water harvesting fashionable.’’