GS 3: Env : 19/11/18
Citizens prepare to counter bid to snip Bannerghatta’s eco-shield
- Citizens are drawing up plans to prevent the buffer zone around the protected area from being reduced by more than 100 sq.km.
- The new draft notification of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) chalks out the eco-sensitive zone, a protective layer around the park, which prohibits hazardous development, at 168.8 sq.km. This is 37% lower than the 268.96-sq.km. ESZ announced in the original draft notification in 2016.
- While villages have not been excluded in the new draft notification, the boundary of 61 villages has been reduced from 1 km from the edge of the protected area to just 100 metres. Many of these villages have seen the mushrooming of stone quarries or are prospective areas for the business.
- In April 2017, the State government informed the MoEF that the ESZ would be trimmed and that there were ‘no comments received from public/stake holders’.
Hasirudala has taken up an experimental project to rebuild homes of wastepickers using construction debris and used materials
- Hasirudala, an organisation that works for the welfare of wastepickers, has taken up an experimental project to rebuild homes of workers using construction debris and used materials.
- The organisation is looking for donations from the public in the form of construction debris and usable scrap, such as old kitchen slabs and interior decoration material that can be used for building purposes.
- A similar project had been adopted by a cooperative of wastepickers in Pune, SWaCH (Solid Waste Collection and Handling), where a few homes were remodelled using recycled construction material. Hasirudala has decided to replicate the model.
- The city generates a considerable amount of construction debris, which is thrown away and ends up in landfills. It can be put to a better use. It will not only ensure a better, and lower cost homes for the poor, but also reduce the strain on the city's waste management system.
- The organisation has tied up with Selco Foundation, which provides sustainable solutions for the poor, for technical and financial support. Hasirudala is also hoping that the government will provide loans to wastepickers to help them rebuild their houses using secondhand material.
Coastal districts must continue to strengthen resilience against extreme weather events
- Tamil Nadu was more prepared than before to deal with Cyclone Gaja.
- The severe cyclonic storm damaged infrastructure, property and agriculture. Even so, the effort to professionalise disaster management through a dedicated national and State organisation initiated more than 15 years ago appears to be paying off, with bureaucracies acquiring higher efficiency in providing early warning and in mitigating the impact of cyclones.
- The National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project started by the Ministry of Home Affairs has been working to reduce the impact of such catastrophic events on Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat, classified as States with higher vulnerability; most western coastal States are in the next category.
- However, there is a lot to be done to upgrade infrastructure and housing in coastal districts to meet higher standards of resilience in an era of extreme weather events.
- The lead taken by the State Disaster Management Authority in issuing a stream of alerts ahead of Gaja helped coastal residents move to camps and adopt safety measures.
- The active measures taken by the State after the cyclone, notably to clear roads, remove fallen trees and repair power infrastructure and communications, helped restore some stability.
- In its destructive exit path, the cyclone has affected some southern districts, felling tens of thousands of trees and also 30,000 electricity poles along the coast.
- Tamil Nadu’s political parties have acted in a mature manner and kept partisan criticism from getting in the way of relief and rehabilitation after Gaja. This is in contrast to some earlier instances, such as the Chennai flood of 2015, when the distribution of relief became politicised.
- Today, if any pressure on the government machinery is necessary, it is to secure without delay the financial relief of Rs.10 lakh that has been promised for families of the dead, compensation for lost crops, trees and livestock, provision of emergency health intervention and rehabilitation assistance to rebuild lives.
- The larger question, of course, is whether the coastal States have equipped themselves for an even bigger event, such as the super cyclone that hit Odisha in 1999 that killed about 10,000 people.
- Even with far fewer casualties, Cyclone Phailin in 2013 required reconstruction estimated at $1.5 billion.
- India’s coastline experiences a lower frequency of tropical cyclones compared to many other regions, but the loss of life and destruction is much higher.
- Coastal States must, therefore, focus on reducing the hazard through policies that expand resilient housing, build better storm shelters and create financial mechanisms for insurance and compensation.
.The energy sector must be required to report its water consumption
- The Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) by the NITI Aayog, which was released this June, shows that 600 million people face high to extreme water stress in India.
- The report, which was published in association with the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation and the Ministry of Rural Development, places India at a dismal 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index.
- It predicts that a persistent water crisis will lead to an eventual 6% loss in the country’s Gross Domestic Product by 2030.
- A significant key to this stress is the vast gulf — of about 1498 billion cubic metres (BCM) versus 744 BCM — that has been predicted between the demand and supply of fresh water, by 2030.
- In the projections that the Central Water Commission (CWC) released in 2015, the sector-wise requirement of water (that is, for drinking and domestic use, industry and energy) will rise steeply between 2030 and 2050.
- This mounting rise in demand is starkly evident in the energy sector, which is key to India’s ambitious developmental plan. The share of water consumed by this sector was 0.62% in 2010, which is pegged to rise up to 1.37% in 2030 and 8.98% in 2050.
- The CWMI report covers these broad themes — ground water and surface-water restoration; major and medium irrigation; watershed development; participatory irrigation management; on-farm water use; rural and urban water supply; and policy and governance. The projected water demand of the energy sector makes it an important point for the NITI Aayog to consider while bringing out future iterations of the CWMI.
- As per the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), March 2018, thermal electricity accounts for more than 86% of India’s total power generation. Analysis shows that 77% of India’s total electricity comes from thermal power plants that are dependent on freshwater sources.
- Of all the freshwater-cooled thermal plants, 38.9% of generation capacity is installed in areas with high or extremely high water-stress. By 2030, more than 70% of India’s existing thermal power utilities are likely to experience an increased level of water competition from agricultural, urban, and other industrial demands.
- As the power sector consumes more water, competition between power and the other thirsty players is only likely to increase — a factor that future editions of the CWMI will have to consider.
- The CWMI also raises three main issues related to data: limited coverage, unreliable data and limited coordination and sharing. Measuring water consumption by power plants has been a challenge for long.
- However, it can easily be tackled by using the existing CEA reporting mechanism for daily generation. To do so, daily water withdrawal and consumption reporting should be mandated.
- These can be measured with existing technology and added into this reporting framework.
- Such information will also help in implementation of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Notification (dated December 7, 2015), which mandates specific water consumption norms for existing and new thermal power plants.
- In addition, information about water stress, power plant siting (location) and so on must be shared seamlessly across departments — a service that the CWMI could perform.
- The NITI Aayog alludes to this while describing the CWMI: “This Index is expected to establish a public, national platform providing information on key water indicators across states. This platform will help in monitoring performance, improving transparency, and encouraging competition, thereby boosting the country’s water achievements by fostering the spirit of ‘competitive and cooperative federalism’ among the states. Further, the data can also be used by researchers, entrepreneurs, and policymakers to enable broader ecosystem innovation for water in India.”
- The CWMI concludes by noting that water-scarce States such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana are leaders in the Index. It notes that this is “likely driven by necessity in the face of looming water shortages”. Factoring in the water-energy nexus linkages, especially the metrics around power plant water withdrawal and consumption, will only help make the Index better and the States better prepared to manage their water and power resources.