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World Water Day: Experts flag scarcity challenges, say water energy efficient cities need of the hour

Responding to the Urban Challenge on the World Water Day on Tuesday, Saraiya expressed his concern over the wastage of water in Punjab.

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor | Chandigarh |
March 23, 2016 9:25:33 am
world water day, chandigarh, chandigarh even, water wastage, water management, water preservation, chandigarh news Nirav B Saraiya (left) during a session on water and smart cities in Chandigarh on Tuesday. (Express Photo by Sahil Walia)

“PUNJAB pays least importance to rainwater harvesting projects. While it’s all there on papers, nothing concrete has taken place at ground level,” said Nirav B Saraiya, consultant, rainwater harvesting, NS & Associates, Maharashtra.

In Chandigarh for a session hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry, northern region, and Indian Green Building Council (IGBC), on Water & Smart Cities: Responding to the Urban Challenge on the World Water Day on Tuesday, Saraiya expressed his concern over the wastage of water in Punjab.

“There is a misconception of having ample water in north India. Water resources are getting scarce and one has to be aware of these changes across India,” said Saraiya.

Saraiya, who through NS & Associates, has been providing sustainable and eco-friendly solutions to increasing water shortage in India, is a strong votary of recharging the water levels. “Concrete pavers are only stopping the water from percolating into the ground. Porous pavers over time develop silting problems whereby restricting any water to percolate. Ponds no longer exist in that many numbers, so the solution is surface recharge and using tubewells to absorb that water in time,” said Saraiya.

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With smart being the buzzword these days, Saraiya said smart cities also mean aware and water-energy efficient cities.

“Hence, incentivised programmes should be there to award tax benefits to those who employ rainwater harvesting techniques in their buidings,” said Saraiya.

The focus, he added, should be a uniform policy on recharging water levels using localised technology and that too according to the hydo-geological structure of the place.

“Not all terrains are same and hence rainwater harvesting projects differ,” said Saraiya.

Co-chairman IGBC, Chandigarh, Ar Jit Kumar Gupta agreed with Saraiya.

“By applying the same harvesting technique, builders often lament that instead of water, their money is percolated. One has to be patient and adopt techniques as per the geological terrain and demand,” said Gupta, adding how the demand for clean water will exceed the supply by 2030 and hence, with the Prime Minister’s vision of 100 smart cities, smart management of water is critical.

Dr Satnam Singh, additional director (environment), Punjab State Council for Science & Technology, stressed the importance of water and its sustainable usage for the future generations keeping in mind the growing pressure on land and available percentage of portable water.

“Around 20 per cent of the jobs in the world are either directly or indirectly based on water and one fifth of the economy in India is water-based. The planet is composed of 70 per cent water, which makes the earth a blue planet. Water imparts value to livelihood and is vital to the ‘Blue Economy’,” added Singh.

Comprising the audience, engineers, architects and builders also expressed concerns over bureaucracy of securing permissions and running high costs of rainwater harvesting.

Another option that interested them was that of phytorid technology for sewage treatment, whereby plants are used to clean water.

Basant Yadav, consultant, Petrichor Emerging Technologies (India) Pvt. Ltd, gave a presentation on the same.

The speakers asserted that the need of the hour is to adopt an integrated approach from local civic bodies to higher up in the hierarchy and to efficiently exploit water for optimal use.

“Rainwater harvesting and forest conservation are a few examples. However, water conservation starts from us, the consumers. We need to be cautious, judicious and aware too,” said Gupta.

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