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Corporate lessons in saving water

Corporates pitch in to conserve water
Dilnaz Boga

In an attempt to set right the enormous environmental destruction due to urbanisation, several corporate houses and other organisations are pitching in, in the form of CSR to conserve water. Corporate houses such as the Tatas, HCC, Reliance, Pepsico India, Ambuja Cements and Hindalco are setting up projects all over the country. Corporates are focusing on regions where water availa-



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bility is already acute and where those living below the poverty line are hit the hardest. Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), which recently bagged the award for best Social Investment Strategy at the World CSR Congress, began to focus on water conservation as a consequence of its concerns about the business risks posed by physical scarcity, where there is no sufficient water to meet demand and economic scarcity, where communities lack the infrastructure and/or financial capacity to access the water they require. HCC, the only Indian company to be featured in a climate report issued by the UNGC and United Nations’ Environment Programme, has not only installed rainwater harvesting projects and artificial ponds for water management and augmentation in Faridabad and Delhi but has also constructed desalination plants in Mumbai as a part of CSR. Lawyer and environmentalist Girish Raut feels that industrialisation has done irreparable

damage to our natural resources, leading to calamities and man-made droughts. “What are being offered as solutions to circumvent these problems are the problem themselves,” Raut laughs. Global warming and water scarcity is a by-product of urbanisation at the cost of the environment. We are suffering the consequences of having a growing GDP and exploiting energy resources for market gain, he explained. Highlighting the dire need of the hour, ‘Charting our water future: Economic frameworks to inform decision-making’, a report by McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm states: “If these “business-as-usual” trends are insufficient to close the water gap, the result in many cases could be that fossil reserves are depleted, water reserved for environmental needs is drained, or—more simply—some of the demand will go unmet, so that the associated economic or social benefits will simply not occur.” The report further explained: “By 2030, demand in India will grow to almost 1.5

trillion m3, driven by domestic demand for rice, wheat, and sugar for a growing population, a large proportion of which is moving toward a middle-class diet. Against this demand, India’s current water supply is approximately 740 billion m3. As a result, most of India’s river basins could face severe deficit by 2030 unless concerted action is taken.” Even non-government organisations like Rotary Club of Bombay have involved themselves in water conservation projects taking into account the dearth of water in Maharashtra and its neighbouring states. President Padmakar Nandeka informs about the 50 water check dams that the organisation has built in places like Rajasthan. “We also have a conservation project in Thana. Every Holi, we use two tankers of water but this time we have decided not to go for it considering the issues of our time,” he elaborated.

A thumbs up for mobile loos
Mobile toilets can provide sanitation solution to the city and conserve water too
Geeta Desai

In a complete contrast to the central government’s and state government’s endeavour to provide a toilet to all households in villages across the country, the same government is showing apathy towards providing sanitation facility to metro cities, which need them the most. Sanitation is not the priority for the government says Rajeev Kher, MD, Saraplast (Shramik). Kher’s company is a sanitation solution provider in urban and rural parts of India. “We are just not providing solution to the situation

but we also provide standard portable solutions with dignity. With this we are also trying to conserve water with minimum usage,” said Kher, who participated in Good & Green conclave organised by Godrej last week. Kher feels that effective sanitation planning

in cities and use of portable toilets can also help reduce water wastage. Mobile toilets for large gathering, public rallies and exhibitions are an easy solution, but Kher advocates mobile toilets for slum which will provide easy and cheap solution. Also this will do away with different

permissions and procedures required for the construction of the toilet in the city, which faces paucity of space. 125 billion litres of water is wasted across the world each day. For holistic approach of saving water along with providing dignified solution for the masses, mobile toilets will go long way. “Vacuum suction technology and pour flush technology for disposal of waste from the toilet helps in easy maintenance with less usage of water. While we tend to use five – 10 litres of water for normal flush, in mobile toilets flushing needs only 330 Ml – 1 litre water”, said Kher who runs a couple of projects for slums in Pune and a few girls schools. He added that bio-based deodorisers and vinegar or soil based additives for cleaning purpose so that the toilets are environment friendly.

Tap rainwater to end water woes
Geeta Desai

Rainwater harvesting is the simplest method of conserving water and maintaining ground water table

India is a groundwater civilisation and we are the largest consumers of ground water. With abundant rainfall, dependability on rainwater has now started posing a big challenge to the country in recent years as the rainfall has become scanty and there are not enough water bodies to hold water. In Mumbai with a population of 1.24 crore —and more than 20 lakh floating population — the city needs 4500 MLD water. But the total water drawn for Mumbai from six lakes is 3965 MLD. However, the city receives approximately 2584.40 MLD water from six lakes after 273 MLD en route supply and treatment losses and 30 per cent losses during distribution and transmission in the city. Considering the present trend of development, the city’s water demand is expected to rise substantially in near future. Middle Vaitarna is the only source which is expected to contribute to the city as the other sources are in study stage. The options like rainwater harvesting and recycling have not been able to contribute a considerable share in the water supply inspite of the efforts being taken by the corporation like the

Vaitarna Lake, Mumbai


Rainwater harvesting for you?
ndividual buildings can do their bit by implementing rainwater harvesting in their premises. Assuming the average rainfall of 2000 mm for the city, as per the standard expectation an area of 1000 meters (approx. 10,000 Sq. Ft) can become catchment area for almost 20,00,000 litres (twenty lakh litres) ofwater during four months —the entire monsoon season. With this estimate, if each of the buildings starts collecting and saving rainwater falling in their premises or at least start re-charging their own grounds, the city will be rid of water problems at least for the nonpotable purposes. 589.34 MLD, which will be more than what Middle Vaitarna project will give water to the city. BMC spent Rs 2207 crore for Middle Vaitarna Dam project which is expected to bring 455 MLD water from next year.

introduction of telescopic tariff and new developments. Excessive groundwater extraction is extremely hazardous for a coastal city like Mumbai. Under the circumstances, Mumbai needs a proper plan to systematically reduce its daily per capita water consumption permanently and the BMC is taking various steps under its ‘Water Distribution Improvement Program’. Stressing on the need of the hour, Suprabha Marathe, executive engineer of the BMC, who heads the Rainwater Harvesting Cell said that RWH is the most cheap and best option. However, she said that the challenges faced by the civic body in bringing about the change in the approach of the people

for RWH is very difficult. “People neither want to save water nor they want to stop using groundwater. They don’t bother to recharge the groundwater. Presently citizens are getting water so they don’t realise its importance, but once the water stock will start receeding in future, a time will come when each individual family will have to make their own arrangements. The city should be prepared before the worst comes,” she said. “Amongst all the other alternatives - using groundwater from bore-wells and wells, desalination and recycling, rainwater harvesting is the simplest and indigenous technology being practiced. The concept involves collection

As per the civic estimates, if 70 per cent of the city area is assumed to be developed and 50 per cent of it be roofed and we can collect water falling on it. The quantity of water that can be harvested works out to
“BMC has made RWH mandatory to the newly developed properties in the city having plot area of more than 1000 sq. mts after October 1, 2002. The condition will be made compulsory to existing buildings in near future. Nevertheless, recycling of grey water has been already made compulsory for buildings having centralised air conditioning plants,” said Marathe adding

JP Bhatt watering his plants using rainwater harvesting system at his residence in Pune

of rainwater by individual plot owner in artificial tanks and natural aquifers. “RWH not only creates self-sufficiency but also raises ground water table, improves the quality of water, reduces soil erosion and prevents sea regression,” said Marathe.

that up to March 2012 more than 3000 buildings have implemented RWH in their new developments. Mumbai has more than 7000 dug up wells and bore wells. Revival of abandoned wells and replenishing dug up and bore wells by RWH will also help in improving quality of ground water.