Conservation - Reducing Water Usage

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The "heal as one" narrative is a false one as the poorest are the most vulnerable to the disease.

 

With Covid-19 spreading its wings across the world, the impact on quality of life and access to basic human rights will be felt exceedingly more in the global south. It is the nature of disasters, to bare the inherent socio-economic inequities in societies, that are invisibilized during normal times. The Covid-19 pandemic, an unprecedented public health disaster, is a case in point.

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Conservation measures such as rainwater harvesting and recharging of groundwater need to be generally well established in both rural and urban areas.

The conventional freshwater sources available in India are being currently overexploited, leading to widespread environmental degradation and depletion of freshwater resources especially groundwater. To sustain the needs of an increasing population and ecology, our consumption of water far exceeds the rate at which we are recharging water sources. We are faced with water scarcity and will find it hard to meet the future regional demands.

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Government of Maharashtra and UNICEF Mumbai are training frontline workers to tackle the spread of COVID-19.

Maharashtra has the highest COVID-19 cases in the country and the government is taking a slew of measures to flatten the curve. We speak to Mr. Yusuf Kabir, WASH specialist and emergency focal point for UNICEF Mumbai, who is at the forefront of the containment efforts to find out about their efforts towards water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in urban and rural areas especially to tackle COVID-19 spread.

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The new policy needs to build context specificity and have enabling mechanisms for equitable resource allocation.

The way water as a resource has been viewed in the policies of India has evolved significantly over the years. Reduction in per capita availability over the years (5177 to 1463 cubic metres between 1950-2015) has forced every new policy to change the way it has approached its management. It was considered an economic commodity in the second National Water Policy (NWP) drafted in 2002. Finally in 2012, the third NWP recognized the importance of managing water as a “common-pool resource”.

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While water supply coverage has improved over the years in Maharashtra, why does safe and continuous water supply still remain a distant dream for the state?

Latur in Maharashtra has been facing acute drinking water scarcity over the last month and has been in news again, and that too, inspite of having piped water connections and a good monsoon this year!

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How technology enables monitoring and evaluation, or comparative analysis of developmental data from village to state level.

Developments in geographical information systems (GIS) in India, both in policy and law, have thus far empowered to a greater extent government and business at national and regional level. The real challenge in this sector is to extend this technology to local communities for self-governance and to enable them to participate on an equal footing in regional and national development.

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Floods such as in 2018 could take the situation downhill causing severe drinking water crisis.

Surrounded by vast expanses of water, the Kuttanad region in Alleppey district, Kerala faces severe drinking water scarcity due to infrastructure failure and civic body inaction.

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Decentralised groundwater governance frameworks that integrate democratic institutional mechanisms are needed to deal with the current groundwater crisis in India.

The challenges to sustain groundwater dependency in India are many where groundwater over extraction is not only leading to rapid depletion of the resource, but also giving rise to water quality issues in a situation where the response at the level of policy continues to be lukewarm.

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How can technology, knowledge and capacity creation help in management of commons?

Common pool resources, popularly known as “commons”, are those resources which are accessible to the whole community or village and to which no individual has exclusive ownership or property rights. Commons have two essential characteristics: non-excludability and high-subtractability. Non-excludability means that it is impossible or very costly to restrict a user from using the resource, and subtractability or “rivalness” means that use of the resource by one user will diminish benefits for other users.

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RO purifiers can lead to huge wastage of water. A draft notification by the Environment Ministry seeks user’s views on banning RO purifiers in areas where water conforms to BIS norms.

The use of reverse osmosis (RO) purifiers has become a contentious issue, mainly because of the amount of water that is wasted following its use. Last May, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) issued an order to ban RO purifiers in cases where the total dissolved solids in the water source were less than 500 mg/litre.

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