Dirty Yamuna clean-bowls govt
THE TIMES OF INDIA [3rd JUNE, 2003]
NEW DELHI: Stung by criticism over the symbolic shramdaan, Delhi government officials are wondering how to lend a positive note to the Clean Yamuna saga which has all the makings of a tragedy at present.
Chief minister Sheila Dikshit has asked senior officials to chalk out a feasible plan that will show visible results in a short span of time.
The urgency of the situation stems from the ongoing four-day Clean Yamuna campaign that will culminate on World Environment Day on June 5. Though Delhi is supposed to get almost Rs 400 crore under the Yamuna Action Plan (YAP) phase-II, Delhi government officials feel that the Centre is dragging its feet over the clearances.
A senior official said: ‘‘We are still in the decision-making stage due to funding and logistical constraints. But some decision will be taken in the next two days.’’ He added that Dikshit is expected to announce certain aspects of a detailed project report on the slum rehabilitation plan and public awareness drive that are part of the second phase of YAP.
The loan agreement between Government of India and the Japanese Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC) was signed on March 31, 2003 for YAP-II.
But according to environment ministry officials, the legal procedures will take about three months.
‘‘The project can only be implemented by next February,’’ the official said. Selection of project management consultants and other ground work is expected to take several months. Officials, however, point out that if Delhi government plans to take any part of the project on its own they will not only have to arrange for their own funding but also not have the benefit of international advice.
‘‘There is less interference in the tendering process if an international institution is involved,’’ an official said.
Admitting the haste with which the phase-I was botched, officials say that documentation and studies are in place for phase-II.
‘‘We are better prepared for the second stage,’’ an official added.
Watertable falling in Ghaziabad
THE TIMES OF INDIA [3rd JUNE, 2003]
GHAZIABAD: The Central Ground Water Board’s (CGWB) directive for getting tubewells in Ghaziabad registered has remained only on paper. The decision was taken to arrest the rapid fall in the water table, which is dropping by 8 to 10 feet every year.
‘‘No survey has ever been conducted to find out the number of tubewells being run in residential, commercial and industrial units. We just know about the municipal corporation which runs 162 borewells,’’ Water Works engineer C P Khattar said. As a result, no government agency has any record of the number of groundwater extraction systems or their location.
Another reason for the CGWB declaring entire urban Ghaziabad a ‘‘sensitive’’ area four years ago was to curb the pollution of groundwater from industrial effluents. The grounwater here is full of pollutants like chromium, poisonous pharmaceutical intermediates, colouring agents and coliform bacteria.
After the CGWB notification, the administration had asked people to submit details of all places from where groundwater was being tapped at the district industrial centre (DIC). But, DIC sources said they received less than a dozen applications.
In deep water
THE TIMES OF INDIA [3rd JUNE, 2003]
Bangalore city is in the throes of a severe water crisis. Who is to blame and what are the corrective steps needed? S. Kushala speaks to BWSSB chairman M.N. Vidyashankar.
You had been maintaining that water situation in summer will be comfortable. Suddenly, there is a move to supply water once in three days. Hadn’t you taken stock of the situation?
Water has reached the lowest level because of two reservoirs drying up — Kabini and Krishnarajasagar. For the first time in the last 40 years, these two reservoirs are dry. The situation is very grim. In the last two years, we had sufficient rain in April and May. In April 2001, the city recorded 60 mm of rainfall. May 2002 witnessed heavy rain, which flooded the city. Looking at the last two years’ rain chart, we expected that the monsoon will take care of the city.
Tippagondanahalli dried up as early as January. Even then didn’t you fear this crisis?
Usually, April and May are the rainfall months in summer. The Cauvery fourth phase, first stage, that has been commissioned, covers even the TG Halli supply. So, we did not have any problem on that front. As of now, we are supplying water once in two days.
What is the next course of action?
We’ve enough water to last till June 13. We were waiting for the monsoon to hit Kerala on May 28, but that did not happen. A board meeting convened on May 30 decided to wait for the monsoon, which is expected to arrive in the first week of June. In case the monsoon fails, the first step would be to cut down the supply. We have a contingency plan, but let us not press the panic button.
Despite BWSSB’s network of distribution lines, why do residents in many areas depend on borewell water and mineral water for drinking and cooking?
Twenty-seven wards added to BCC jurisdiction in 1995 and a few missing bits in old and partially new wards do not have BWSSB lines. We are working on a project to provide 100 per cent drinking water and sanitary lines to all the 100 wards in the city, which will be completed by December-end. Lines will be drawn up to 2,000 km in the city at a total cost of Rs 140 crore. For these 27 new wards, we are supplying water through tankers — 40 tankers make nine trips every day. There are a few apartments, which have not taken the BWSSB connection. So the residents make do with mineral water.
What are the upcoming projects of BWSSB?
Construction work on sewage treatment plants under the Cauvery fourth stage is in progress at a cost of Rs 330 crore. Further, the automation of our pumping stations has been taken up. We are rolling out a major project on June 5 which envisages replacement of old water lines — distribution and domestic — which will bring down leakage percentage.
Cauvery meet put off
THE HINDU [3rd JUNE, 2003]
New Delhi June 2. The 17th meeting of the Cauvery Monitoring Committee, scheduled for June 6, will now be held on June 9. The postponement is because the Chairman of the Committee and Water Resources Secretary, A.K. Goswami, has to be in Himachal Pradesh for a court hearing on that day.
The CMC, under the Cauvery River Authority, is set to discuss the distress sharing formula between the basin States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Pondicherry.
With a delay in the onset of the monsoon this year and low reservoir levels in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the stress will only increase. Experts here said the States would be well advised to go in for a cropping pattern and plant crops that could withstand water stress.
Both Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have differences of opinion on the parameters on the sharing of distress. However, they agree that the net flows into Karnataka's four reservoirs should be taken into account for distress sharing.
However, there is no agreement on the period of inflows series based on which the monthly average flows in Karnataka reservoirs are to be considered.
In an earlier meeting initially, Tamil Nadu had held that pro rata sharing of distress was not within the purview of the Cauvery River Authority and the Cauvery Monitoring Committee and should be decided by the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal which would form part of the final award. But later the State agreed to the distress sharing formula worked out by the Central Water Commission.
Karnataka did not object to a distress sharing formula worked out by the CWC but did not agree with the parameters taken into consideration. The matter would now be taken up in the CMC meeting on June 9.