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Ways of Solving Water Shortage Problems in India - The Youth Can help! 

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'Water Warriors of India - Initiative towards Pure and Ample water'


Fourth issue: water supply and waste water management should be looked in an integrated way.

It is desirable to think of water supply, sanitation and wastewater in an integrated way. This implies that the cost of an integrated solution will be much lower than a solution at a later stage by a separate institution based on different cost recovery system. In big cities dealing with wastewater and offsite sanitation is often integrated. However, in the Indian case we also learn that this tends to be limited to the area of the Municipal Commission, leaving the rest of the city to the development authorities or even district authorities, who tend to have less money and no money raising responsibilities. As a result we at our movement will make government and people aware to manage useable water and waste water with same assiduousness.

Fifth issue: there is a need for regulation in the system The need for well-defined roles and responsibilities is clear.

It is also necessary to make the institutional arrangements between the municipality and the private sector explicit. There needs to be a regulatory framework and the authorities need to take their responsibility. As public utilities are not usually subject to the disciplines of the market, they have fewer incentives to minimize costs (and maximize tariff collection rates). Regulatory arrangements can stimulate them to look at their cost, for example through a system of benchmarking.

The design of an effective institutional framework is a challenge in large metropolitan areas. If not done well, the existence of multiple institutions with primary or secondary responsibilities in sanitation can become a hindrance to effective development and management of sanitation services. A case in point is Bangalore where mandates not only overlap, but have also been defined at different levels, and for different technologies. Here, effective co-ordination is absent, as a result of which the services cannot be run effectively. So, if each section of the society is made aware of its role, such commotion won't arise at all, this is also an area where water warriors will emphasize.

Sixth issue: Finances cannot be ignored

Financing is crucial. What is the financial basis for supplying water and sanitation services? Some of the cost recovery mechanisms currently used includes infrastructure charges, connection fees, environmental user fees and local taxes. Raising sufficient revenue to cover for the cost is difficult. As already emphasized, the costs of these services are high and at the same time, the demand is usually little developed and the willingness to pay is low, and lower than that for other services. In addition, enforcement of payment for sanitation and waste water services is difficult, as one cannot simply disconnect as is done with other utilities such power and telecoms. Yet, any sustainable water management initiative must address the key issues of financing and cost recovery. In this context, raising the awareness of the need to have adequate wastewater and sanitation services, of the range of technologies, and of the cost of such services and of the inevitability of cost recovery in return for good service quality is a precondition for effectiveness. User participation is yet another key to success in wastewater services: several urban case studies have shown that willingness to pay is above expected levels in cases where the users have been given a chance to consciously participate in the selection and establishment of the sanitation system.

Various cost recovery mechanisms or economic instruments can be applied to recover (at least) the operational cost of urban sanitation and the treatment of wastewater. These include user charges, effluent charges and taxation. There should be provision of 'polluter pays' in which the costs of wastewater management charged to a customer are calculated in function of wastewater quantity and pollution load. Household charges may be uniform and based on an assumed pollution equivalent, or a volumetric rate based on recorded water consumption. High charges may encourage pre-treatment and even process-redesign by industries in an effort to optimize water and wastewater costs. (Too) high charges may also have undesired effects such as illegal discharges inside or outside the wastewater system. So water warriors through advocating such policies will ensure maximizing of utility under the constraints of minimizing cost.

The youth consortium of water warriors will cater specifically to all the above concerned issues. Having discussed the current scenario, reasons and the issues and their specific solution regarding the water management in India, now we shift our emphasis on the ways in which an individual or a locality can take measures to solve its own major water problem  Urban centres in India are facing an ironical situation today. On one hand there is the acute water scarcity and on the other, the streets are often flooded during the monsoons. This has led to serious problems with quality and quantity of groundwater. This is despite the fact that all these cities receive good rainfall. However, this rainfall occurs during short spells of high intensity. (Most of the rain falls in just 100 hours out of 8,760 hours in a year). Because of such short duration of heavy rain, most of the rain falling on the surface tends to flow away rapidly leaving very little for recharge of groundwater. As water shortage increases, alternative sources of water supply are gaining importance. These include sewage recycle, rainwater harvesting, generating water form humidity in the atmosphere etc.

Water recycle through rain water harvesting is a simple, effective and economical solution to conserve water so that more fresh water is available for essential uses drinking, bathing, cooking and laundry. Population, industrialization and pollution are putting pressure on our limited fresh water resource. There is limit to increasing water supply because we are running out of sources and cost of additional facilities is prohibitive. The best way to solve water problem therefore is by conserving water and recycling it wherever possible. Recycling must be made mandatory far all new projects- industrial or domestic and even should be promoted to existing buildings also. One of the solutions to the urban water crisis and the best way to recycle water is 'Rainwater Harvesting - capturing the runoff.' Rain harvesting will be really efficient in areas where there is inadequate groundwater supply or surface resources are either lacking or insufficient, it drastically reduces urban flooding from which our two major cities Mumbai and Chennai suffered drastically last year

Rain water harvesting is an ancient concept, the implementation of it does not requires any major technology and the cost is even low, as compared to the benefits cost should not even be considered. At this juncture it's worth mentioning the ways in which an individual of the society can take part in such a process.

Rainwater harvesting can be harvested from the following surfaces:

Rooftops: If buildings with impervious roofs are already in place, the catchment area is effectively available free of charge and they provide a supply at the point of consumption. Paved and unpaved areas i.e., landscapes, open fields, parks, storm water drains, roads and pavements and other open areas can be effectively used to harvest the runoff. The main advantage in using ground as collecting surface is that water can be collected from a larger area. This is part of the community project to be undertaken

Water bodies: The potential of lakes, tanks and ponds to store rainwater is immense. The harvested rainwater can not only be used to meet water requirements of the city, it also recharges groundwater aquifers.

Storm water drains: Most of the residential colonies have proper network of storm water drains. If maintained neatly, these offer a simple and cost effective means for harvesting rainwater. Rain water though stored will only serve the purpose if properly filtered to meet the major drinking water needs. For this effect major invention in the field has been made which provides proper rain water purification mechanisms. These purification system works on the normal treatment method involving screening, flocculation sedimentation and filtration.

These purification systems are also available for micro scale projects to serve the need of a household. Such purification systems are simple in installing and easy to operate. The most important feature is that they don't require electricity. Many entrepreneurs of industries tend to forget the fact that they are part of the living society and in turn they tend to foster the production of negative externality. It should be made mandatory for each industry to install water management solutions to recycle its waste water for reuse. Major step in this front is through the development of Industrial effluent recycle solution which integrates physiochemical, biological and membrane separation processes for optimum water recovery. They achieve water management through water recycle and source reduction, and waste management through product recovery and waste minimization. They are cost effective as they recover valuable products for reuse while recycling which gives industries a good return on their investment while protecting the environment and even the common people as it reduces the water usage of industries and transmittance of waste to water bodies.

After emphasizing the ways of tackling the problem through rain water harvesting and other recycling options, the following paragraphs paves the way to the essence of the whole discussion; it illuminates the role of the youth in curbing the problem of such a magnitude which can pose a threat to the very existence of the mankind in this world. Any amount of government expenditure cannot solve this problem unless and until the community as a whole in its full might rise to the occasion and work for it.

In India the role of youth cannot be under estimated as India in its demography cycle has a position of Young India with more than half of India's population below the age of 35 years. The youth of the nation has to take part in mass movement of awareness; they have to be the 'Water warriors of India'

In this approach the youth will be enlightened to serve their locality and curb the water problem. Each locality in city will have its own group of members named as the water warriors whose primary work will be to impart awareness among the residents regarding rain water harvesting. Charity begins at home, so in the first step the members have to set up rain water harvesting system in their respective houses, so that they can put forward examples and other people can replicate these. Water warriors of respective localities will provide assistance in setting up of the system of rain water harvesting. In certain cases possible community projects can be taken as a whole where large tanks are to be constructed to store rain water. Major foray of water warriors will be in water harvesting but it will also simultaneously ensure that water is being properly utilized.

The promotion techniques will include the most believable of all- word-of-mouth, apart from other conventional means of imparting awareness such as newspapers, hoarding etc, as water warriors will be a youth forum, the awareness and membership will be imparted through the largest network of World Wide Web.

The major question which remained unanswered is that why will any youth join this consortium of water warrior? The answer to this question can be traced from last year experience of major cities of west and south India, which were struck by floods, the irony was that there was water everywhere but there was no water to drink, no water to cook food, no water to survive life. This incident in major way has brought into notice the major problem of water management in our country, and it's the younger generations who have to foray into the scene, join the consortium and solve the problem simply because of the reason that we are the people who have to destine the future of ours as well as coming generation. It was first time that major important cities of India had confronted such a problem which made youth aware of the reality, and steps has to be taken to overcome the harsh realities of water mismanagement.

Among the factors that constrain performance of water management in India are: poor levels of service particularly for sanitation, inadequate pricing policies (poor cost recovery), undue political interference with service provision, highly centralized character of the sector, lack of accountability, lack of continuation in policies and programmes, low levels of productivity and efficiency and inadequate training or management and sector staff. These factors are exacerbated by external factors such as of population growth, urbanization, and economic development that jointly drive a growth in demand that providers fail to cope with. Successful approaches that has to be considered at macro level for policies should be effective decentralization, integration of hygiene and sanitation activities, demand-driven approaches, cost recovery and good governance, and focus on poverty alleviation, equitable distribution of health services, and gender-sensitive approaches.

It is heartening to note that in India, the water supply sector is at last moving away from an infrastructure- creation approach to a consolidation approach. But India still needs to make substantial infrastructure is that its growth has not been accompanied by an improvement in the quality of governance of water services in the country and that the water sector suffered from a policy of 'build- neglect and rebuild'. Therefore, government and its agencies should not merely concern them with fixing pipes but also fixing institutions that fix pipes

These were the approaches at macro level but for effective utilization of these policies the work has to start from micro level, from each and every household itself. We as youth through our voice need to create awareness about the importance of water in the community so that mindset, attitudes, and habits change proactively rather than wait for legislation and regulation. Together we must work to see that waste of this precious resource is minimizes and we are able to conserve fresh water for future generations. There is need to grab the water problem by the scruff of its neck. Enough has been written, discussed about the problem, hardly anybody takes a look at the solution. Residents of the locality blame it on the government; government on the other hand overlooks it as a seasonal or short term problem. Therefore, there is a need of a paradigm shift from problems to the solution, from despair to problem solving, form now to future. This is what the youth movement of water warriors will be about.

The water warrior campaign's, ultimate goal will be to see a world as an agglomeration of ecological - water harvesting - democracies.

While writing this essay I, myself is gulping marketed mineral water, because the water supply in my locality is not safe for drinking, but after completing the essay it's assured that we as 'Water Warriors' will promise the world of pure and ample water.
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Contributing Writer Amrit Deorah, a student of Economics Honours, Sri Venkateswara Collge, Delhi University [email protected]


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