Kerala scores worst in access to potable water: NSSO
According to a report by the National Sample Survey Organisation, only 29.5% rural households in Kerala have access to safe drinking water as compared to the national average of 88.5%. The survey counts bottled water, piped water into dwellings, piped water to plots, public taps, tube wells, protected wells, protected springs and rainwater collection as improved sources of drinking water. It does not cover individual wells in people's houses- prevalent in many parts of Kerala- as a source of clean drinking water. According to experts, only the rich can afford bottled water therefore its inclusion as one of the survey parameters is not justified.
First salt pans and now migratory birds affected by Narmada waters in Gujarat
Migratory birds have deserted Vadhvana wetlands near Vadodra following the release of excess water from the Narmada canals. In mid-December, salt pans in the Little Rann of Kutch were flooded by the Canal water, resulting in a huge loss for salt workers. The water level in the wetland, which usually remains at 12 feet, has gone up to 17 feet. The Forest Department's last bird count on December 20 was 36,700 migratory birds at the Vadhvana eco-site which has come down to 30,300 now. With 65 species of migratory birds visiting the area, Vadhvana is a tourist hotspot in winters.
Protests against hydel project in Uttarakhand
Villagers near Joshimath are protesting against a 171 MW hydropower project of the National Thermal Power Corporation. The people of Juagad and Jugju villages in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand say that the land in their village is sinking due to blasting and other work on the tunnel of the Lata Tapovan hydel project. According to the villagers, their objections at the public hearing for the project in 2009 were not taken into account. The locals fear flash floods following the rise in the level of the Dhauliganga river due to muck dumping from the dam.
Bangalore harvesting rain water but not using it
The Bangalore Municipal Corporation has found that not more than 10% of the buildings in Bangalore that have a rain water harvesting system are using the conserved water. Of the 38,000 buildings in the city that have a rain water harvesting system, only 3,800 building owners use the harvested water for drinking while the rest still depend on the Corporation. According to the residents, since the water is collected from the terrace and other areas where they usually walk, they feel that it is not fit for drinking. However, experts say that rain water is softer than groundwater which is hard and only needs to be disinfected before drinking.
Tourists' toilet practices reducing groundwater levels in Leh
The eco-friendly toilets used in the cold desert region of Ladakh have suffered a decline, thanks to the tourist influx in Leh, the region's main town. The Town that had dry pit toilets a few years back, the compost from which is used in agricultural fields, has water flush toilets in almost all its guest houses and hotels now. This has resulted in dirty streams and scarce groundwater. According to a study, 375 hotels in Leh are extracting 852,100 litres of water a day, a huge volume in this water scarce region. Leh recieved 2 lakh tourists this year, four times the town's native population.
This is a weekly roundup of important news from December 22-28. Also read last week's policy matters updates.