It aimed to set the challenges faced by urban planners in the current economic, socio-political, and ecological landscape. This would enable informed and negotiated choices on urban development. The stated objectives of the conference are as follows:
The following presentations were made:
Plenary 1: Urban water resources: Taking stock
Statistics indicate an increasing dependence on groundwater among developing cities, both due to growth in the cities as also due to increase in water use. This has led to a decline in groundwater levels and in groundwater quality. The relationships between groundwater and urban water-sanitation systems as defined by the underlying geology of cities is illustrated in this presentation.The various inputs required to make integrating groundwater into urban planning are delineated.
While urbanization is on the rise in India, there is an existing inequitability when it comes to access to water supply. Maharashtra is taken as a case study, and the reforms implemented in the areas of water supply, sewage, and solid waste are discussed. The service delivery in Maharashtra is compared to a benchmark (though the source of the benchmark is not referenced) and analysed. Reform components and the strategies adopted to implement them are detailed. The presentation ends with highlighting the increasing urban-rural divide, which has already escalated to conflict in certain areas.
This presentation focuses on the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and it's efforts towards water conservation. A summary of the awards presented by the confederation, and the salient points of the winning contributions are described. This presentation has several slides that illustrate the cost of water (municipal, river and borewell) in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Orissa, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Uttarkhand, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana. Statistics collected by CII indicate a 14% reduction in water consumption and a 11% increase in recycling of waste water since the last 5 years. 6 examples of water conservation are discussed.
Plenary 2: Urban water institutions: Models, gaps and new challenges
This presentation speculates that the existing water crisis is a manifestation of a governance crisis, with decentralization being crucial to its resolution. The existing structre for urban water supply and sanitation is discussed. HUDCO is placed to resolve the challenges facing governance challenges, and the various innovations supported by HUDCO are listed.
A large part of JNNURM funding is dedicated to urban water supply and sanitation. While these projects have been implemented, therefore implying coverage, little is know of the quality, equitability, and financial sustainability of the work done. Therefore, there is a need to move away from reform linked to outcome linked funding. Details of a sustainable performance assessment system that focuses on equitability, financial viability, performance monitoring are presented. This allows for improved 360-degree accountability. The indicators used, data collection methodology, presentation techniques, and application for decision making are all detailed.
The current technology-based and centralized manner of water management has several shortcomings, including those of inequitable distribution, exclusion of marginalized groups, and ecological un-sustainability. The process of democratising the water sector, the attitude adjustment it requires, are detailed. The result of workshops held among the TWAD engineers resulted in the 'Maraimalainagar declaration' which stipulated that the engineers would focus on maintenance and optimization of existing schemes, especially of traditional sources wherever possible before constructing new schemes. The impact of this democratization process is also explained.
Deep Dive 1: Universalizing sanitation: Efficacy of schemes and barriers to implementation
Statistical information that provides an idea of the state of urban sanitation is presented, including the costs incurred due to poor sanitation, environment impacts, inequitability of access, and challenges due to increasing urbanization. Changing urban policies and schemes over the last three decades are discussed, as are suggestions for improving urban sanitation in the future.
As part of an action research project, ILCS was implemented in Mulbagal, Karnataka. The status of existing community toilets, the adopted approach to revise the defunct community toilets and the results of this approach are detailed. The various issues that prevent the effective implementation of urban sanitation, and the means of overcoming these challenges are discussed.
Inadequate and inefficient municipal sewage treatment systems lead to a host of environmental and health issues. The citizens of Bangalore have come up with a decentralised and entrepreneurial sewage treatment system that seems to be winning on all counts: financial, equitable, ecologically friendly, and beneficent to a large array of stakeholders. This presentation details the system of mobile septic tank cleaners or 'honey suckers'.
Deep Dive 2: Understanding groundwater
Urban groundwater is part of a very complex system with multilateral dependencies.These dependencies pose several questions, the answers to which require dedicated research. The study conducted in Mulbagal aimed to determine the variation in groundwater, groundwater balance, and factors controlling sustainable groundwater use. The results of this study are presented, and the implications for groundwater management explored.
Urban dependence on groundwater, and decrease in availability of this resource (both through contamination and over-exploitation) create a vicious cycle, which can be mitigated by proper attention to sanitation. Groundwater management in Mulbagal is discussed, with emphasis on the e-coli reduction.