River-cleaning? But cash drying up
THE TIMES OF INDIA [16th JUNE, 2003]
NEW DELHI: When the National River Conservation Authority meets after a two-year gap on Monday, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister, it will find itself wrestling with a problem which is only getting worse: The list of polluted rivers and lakes is growing at a time when the money to clean them is drying up.
The government has given itself a target of cleaning major rivers by 2007.
But the environment ministry says a financial crunch has forced it to prioritise work and though just one year of the 10th Plan has passed, "it will not be possible to take up new projects".
Amid speculation that the PM may announce some relief, government estimates indicate that Rs 2,000 crore more will be needed just to finish the work on cleaning the Ganga and Yamuna. Towns like Haridwar, Kanpur, Allahabad and Varanasi alone need Rs 500 crore more. The Yamuna needs Rs 1,500 crore more if its pollution load is to be tackled.
This, says the ministry, will call for a review of the 10th Plan if work is to be completed during this Plan.
The authority's 11th meeting is to be attended by cabinet ministers, chief ministers of 18 states, MPs and experts, with Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Sayeed a special invitee.
In 2001, the authority had decided that future work will be shared on a 70:30 ratio between the Centre and state governments. It had also directed that lakes should get the same priority as rivers.
Among the lakes, one of the first projects envisaged was conservation of Dal lake. The state government took three years to clear the detailed project report on it.
Eco-friendly sanitation in the offing
THE HINDU [16th JUNE, 2003]
BANGALORE June 15. Eco-friendly sanitation is just round the corner for Bangalore city. Even as the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) sewerage treatment plants are getting good response from industrial users, several non-government organisations such as the ACTS Ministries are exploring innovative sanitation methods in the City slums.
For the last three years, ACTS Ministries has been busy experimenting with an urban waste management project in the Rajendranagar Slum near the Koramangala National Games Village. The eight toilet units installed are used by about 500 slum-dwellers everyday. The waste is then shifted to Rayasandra on the City's outskirts for composting.
Taking this a step further, ACTS Ministries is soon to tie up with the Project Directorate of Biological Control, a unit of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).
The latter, according to its Director, R.J.Rabindra, will find ways of using the ecosan compost to enhance micro-organisms in the soil, look at enrichment of the compost and other areas.
The Indian Institute of Horticultural Research, another partner in the project, will look at the performance of the ecosan compost.
To network with other agencies involved in ecological sanitation, ACTS Ministries is holding an "ecosan Workshop'' (it started at Hotel Rama on Sunday) here along with BORDA-India/Germany; GTZ-ecosan-Germany and seecon-Switzerland.
The workshop looks at perspectives and requirements for ecosan projects in urban and rural areas in South and South East Asia; learnings and perspectives of the Bangalore case studies; principles of "good ecosan projects,'' problems and how to avoid them, and other issues.
Explaining the concept of "ecosan,'' a representative of GTZ, Heinz-Peter Mang, said it involved closing of the material flow cycles, recovery and re-utilisation of nutrients, integration of organic waste and reduction of energy consumption.
Organic waste and industrial waste are treated for reuse in agriculture and not left to the surface water under ecosan. Besides, pathogens from human waste did not reach the water flow cycle, he said.
He said ecosan adopted an integral, inter-disciplinary approach involving household water management, environment protection, town-planning and urban agriculture.
Ecosan focussed on material flow rather than disposal, he added.
Talking about the Decentralised Wastewater Treatment Systems (DEWATS) India Project, a private cooperation between German and Indian non-profit organisations, Pedro Kraemer said DEWATS was intended to provide environmentally sound and socially accepted waste water treatment.
Among the beneficiaries were poor settlements in urban and semi-urban areas, institutions, housing colonies, small and medium industries.
The City-based Foundation for Education and Innovation in Asia (FEDINA) and Leuzinger, Berry & Stettler (LBS Architects) are among the Indian partners of DEWATS.
Needed: rigorous pollution control measures
Bangalore June 15. Bharat II pollution norms were introduced on April 1 in Bangalore prompting various departments to take up corrective measures to comply with the new rule. But a lot is desired from the departments as well as the people.
The testing norms for pollution levels of vehicular exhaust as per the revised Bharat II (EURO II) norms follow Central Motor Vehicles (III Amendment) Rules, 2000.
``We have done away with use of in-line pumps which cause a lot of pollution. Now, we use only distributor pumps. We intend to phase out all EURO I buses,'' Bashekar, General Manager (Procurement), Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), said.
But an official of the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) observed, "the exhaust from the BMTC vehicles hired from by private contractors seems to be alarmingly thick.'
Incidentally, BMTC has converted almost half its fleet to comply with EURO II norms.
But the attempts by various other government and non-government agencies have been lackadaisical, according to B.Ramiah, member-Secretary, KSPCB.
He, however, said the BMTC was committed in its efforts to see that its fleet complies with EURO II norms.
On pollution control standards for vehicles in the State, he said, "we need more rigorous monitoring and the implementing agencies should be more pro-active in ensuring safe pollution levels.''
According to sources in the Transport Department, of the 2,57,501 vehicles checked in Bangalore in the last financial year, cases were booked against 30,555.
But the number of vehicles checked has consistently fallen short of the set targets in the last few years.
Bangalore has 17,69,809 vehicles, which is almost 40 per cent of the number of vehicles the State has.
An official of the KSPCB said that most organisations were still plying old vehicles, which needed immediate attention.
He said that the penalty imposed should be increased. At present, the fine for violation of pollution norms is Rs.200 for two-wheelers and three-wheelers, Rs.500 for four wheelers and Rs.700 for trucks and buses.
Automobile exhaust produces three varieties of substances: those that affect the respiratory tract (nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide), those that produce toxic effect (carbon monoxide, lead) and those with carcinogenic effect (benzene).
At a seminar on "Air and Noise Pollution", organised by the Confederation of Indian Industries, the hief Consultant of World Bank Project on Karnataka State Environment Project, Paramesh, said the number of pollution-related cases and subsequent deaths were on the rise.
The safe national air quality standards prescribed by the Environment Protection Act (1986), stipulate 60 microgram of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide per meter cube of air.
Sulphur content in fuel for commercial use set under Bharat II is up to 0.05 per cent.