Excreta Matters Newsletter

Excreta Matters

Editorial: Bill versus Draft

Three months after a new version of the National Water Framework Bill drafted by a committee headed by Yogendra Alagh was unveiled, the Union Water Resources Minister Harish Rawat held the first meeting of the National Forum of Water Resources and Irrigation Ministers of States. One of the main aims was to get states to agree to the need for such a law.

There is no doubt about the need for such a law, as prominent water experts noted in an explanatory note to an earlier attempt at drafting it. This versiondating from 2011 was drafted by a sub-group of the Planning Commission’s Working Group on Water Governance for the 12th Five Year Plan (called the Draft here). Curiously, the Ministry felt this was not consultative enough and proceeded, shortly thereafter to start a parallel process. Another reason the Ministry gave was the Bill should be in conformity with theexisting Acts, Laws, Principles, etc., and some minimum standards should beprescribed for the States for implementation and to prevent them from a Business AsUsual (BAU) scenario. Earlier attempts on prescriptive laws by Centre have nothelped and States themselves have acknowledged that they require a strong pushfrom the Centre to make their establishment recognize the critical stage of waterdevelopment.This statement seems at variance with the Constitutional provision that water is a state subject and at the heart of setting up the National Forum.

The Ministry’s process of drafting the law was supposed to be more consultative; the constitution of the drafting committee that has a preponderance of government officers, and the process, seems to have been anything but. Additionally, the 2013 Bill appears to be a weak and incomplete version of the 2011 draft, which itself was ‘an umbrella statement of general principles governing the exercise of legislative and/or executive power by the Centre, the state and local government institutions’.

A few examples illustrate this. The 2013 Bill mentions in section 6(1) that each state will set up an independent water regulatory authority ‘for ensuring equitable access to water for all and its fairpricing, for drinking and other uses such as sanitation,agricultural and industrial’ but its decisions will be open to judicial review. While this in itself is problematic, the experience with water regulatory authorities is very poor. Only one exists in Maharashtra and has been systematically emasculated by the State Government. The 2011 draft is more nuanced, stating the functions of water management institutions and emphasizing the need for autonomy.

By stating that a river basin shall be the basic unit for hydrological planning, development and management of water resources (Section 3-1), the Bill ignores the federal structure of government and a principle of integrated water management: planning begins at the local level and federated upwards. This is something the Draft clearly states, in addition to saying water planning must take surface and ground water into consideration. Rather than improving water management, the Bill is concerned with creating more government institutions. This will end up confounding the already convoluted water governance scenario.

Again, the Draft clearly prioritizes water for life over everything else. It also recognizes the universal right to water. The Bill is less clear in the priorities for water allocation, stating each individual has the right to 25 litres of potable water per day. This has no basis and hard-coding a figure into what is essential a framework Bill will make it impossible to implement at an all-India level. The other water priorities are unclear which is dangerous since water for industry can then be given precedence over water for agriculture or the environment.

The Bill has no mention of water conflicts and a redressal mechanism, or the role of women in water. Both are dealt with in some detail in the Draft. Regarding major water projects, the Draft advises a cautious approach to minimize impacts on the environment and human beings. It also restates the paripassu principle of resettlement and rehabilitation while constructing large projects, that is ignored by the Bill. Likewise, there is nothing on augmenting local water availability through micro interventions. Significantly, the Bill completely ignores traditional knowledge in water management, one of the main reasons for the current water emergency in the country.

The section of floods and droughts in the Bill takes an engineering approach of control, rather than a more intelligent one of minimizing their impact. Participatory water management is left to Water Users Associations (WUAs), a problematic social construct as they non-representative. The Bill says the Water Resources Information System will be the aggregator and disseminator of information; this System is closed to non-government users. There is a proposal to allow non-government users access on payment of fee and an undertaking both of which will again ensure data exclusivity. Experience has shown that India’s water data is flaky at best, and the Bill is silent on how to improve data quality. The Draft calls for total transparency of WRIS data that may help to improve its quality.

The Bill seeks to extend and centralize the country’s water bureaucracy while throwing a few crumbs to local government institutions. In its current form it will create another water management monster that will convert water into a resource to be managed, rather than a public commons to be held in trust by the State. There is a need for further debate if indeed the Ministry is serious about a workable Bill that reflects the nuances of water management.

On another note, we would like draw your attention to an announcement on rainwater harvesting.
Nitya Jacob, CSE
Reality Bites
A fulminating issue, and a solution
Text: Bharat Lal Seth
Art: Anirban Bora
Guest Blog
On Rainwater Harvesting in the Bangalore Context
April and May is seeing a staggering case of ‘water blindness’ in Bangalore. The media is full of reports on how the KRS dam on the Cauvery has reached dead storage level. The new Chief Minister had to be consulted and water released from an upstream dam on the Hemavathi River to the KRS dam. Police protection had to be ensured so that no farmers ‘stole’ the water en-route.  Water is released from the KRS dam and it reaches the Shiva Anicut downstream, from here the water is diverted to the Netkal balancing reservoir and is then pumped a distance of 95 kilo-metres and to a height of 300 metres to be distributed to the thirsty population of Bangalore.

As this riverine drama was going on, it was raining on the city itself. In the months of April and May, the driest and hottest months all across India, it poured all of 163 mm on the city. If you did the math, on the city of 1250 sq. km. which is the CDP area, the total volume of rain that fell would be a staggering 1,87,500 million litres. At the demand from the city of 1200 million litres per day, this water if harvested would have provided for 156 days of requirement. Granted that not all of it can be harvested but even 50 % efficiency would mean 78 days of supply.

Bangalore has made rainwater harvesting mandatory. All old sites with over 240 sqmt plot area and all new sites with 120 sq. mt.mt. of plot area must have a rainwater harvesting structure. The rules are also simple – create 20 litre storage or recharge structure for every square metre of roof area. For the paved area on the plot, create storage or recharge structure of 10 litres for every square metre. The recharge structure itself should be 1 metre in diameter and at-least 3 metres deep. 

If the good citizens of Bangalore follow the law there should be no water shortage in the fair city.

The open well of Mr Balasubramanian , the blue filter picks up rooftop rainwater and sends it to the well
Individual examples: Some fascinating examples stand out. Mr. Balasubramanian, in the layout called Vidyaranyapura, has an old open well. He has recharged it using a simple drum filter filled with sand. The rooftop rainwater comes in through the filter and into the well. Since 2008 his well has not gone dry and provides him water right through the year. The water too costs him Rs 2.30 /- a kilo-litre, the cheapest water in the city. The quality of water in the well is only improving with time and recharge.

The 50 year old open well of Mr Chandra Sekhar , recharged with rooftop rainwater and now full
Such is also the case with Mr. Chandra Shekar of Jayanagar 3rd Block. He too has rejuvenated a well 50 years old. The fact is that rainwater harvesting keeps these wells alive and in an emergency even when there is no power water can be drawn through buckets thus providing electricity independent water.

Dr B.R. Hegde on the other hand has built a separate rainwater sump tank of 5000 litres capacity. He stores the rooftop rainwater and uses it for non-potable purpose.


Dr Hegde stores rooftop rainwater in a 5000 litre sump tank with the steel cover.

Rainwater Harvesting Theme Park:
The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board have set up a theme park on rainwater harvesting in Jayanagar 5th Block. Here citizens can see more than 50 different types of rainwater harvesting possibilities including recharge structures as well as landscape and storm-water design which is rain friendly. A free consultation is also available with Engineers for a basic rainwater harvesting design. The BWSSB will also put you in touch with trained plumbers to carry out the job.

Rainwater harvesting theme park in Jayanagar 5th Block Bangalore
All in all rainwater harvesting is slowly but surely establishing its foothold in Bangalore. Once it becomes a mass movement, water should no longer be a constraint for the growth of this city. It is time to look to the skies and act rather than to look to the dams and complain.
Towards wetland/lake conservation (Meeting in Colombo)
Date: June 11, 2013
Catchwater: Technical advice for planning and designing rainwater harvesting in your house/colony/institution/industry

Every Friday between 2-6 PM, CSE provides technical advice for designing rainwater harvesting to interested individual/institutions/RWA/industries. You can meet CSE staff members in their office at the following address:

41, Tughlakabad Institutional Area
New Delhi - 110062

If you are interested in setting up a rainwater harvesting structure, please get a prior appointment through mail (amandeep@cseindia.org / sushmita@cseindia.org) or you can call (+91-9013900696).
Please send us the filled up attached form: (Questionnaire for RWH: pdf | doc) before coming to the meeting.


Lakes/Wetlands Database

CSE is developing a database consist of legal cases and information on clean up technologies for the lakes in India and South Asia. If you know about any such cases, please send the details to sushmita@cseindia.org / using the attached form (Lake Information Form: pdf | doc).

Other News
Water Pollution:
Delhi, U.P. asked to file affidavits on Yamuna debris

Date: 24/05/2013
Terming the affidavits “entirely incorrect”, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has once again instructed the heads of various authorities in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh to file comprehensive affidavits within six weeks on the extent of debris deposited on the banks of the Yamuna.

Holy Ganga now a poll plank for netas

Date: 18/05/2013
It seems that Ganga, the holy river that has been nurturing the Indian civilization since time immemorial but today cursed with manmade pollution, has become a potential issue for all sections like the ruling class, the opposition and non-governmental organisations.

Weekly monitoring of Ganga, Yamuna water

Date: 18/05/2013
The UP pollution control board has decided to monitor the water quality of Ganga and Yamuna on a weekly basis. They would conduct weekly test and analysis of the quality of water.

Amidst complaints, ministry orders testing of bottled water

Date: 13/05/2013
If you think packaged water is safe to consume, think again!.

Water Resources:
Punjab, others oppose River Basin Authority

Date: 30/05/2013
The Centre’s ambitious move to set up a national-level body for integrated development of river basins is facing stiff resistance from various states.

Cauvery issue: State seeks damages from Karnataka

Date: 29/05/2013
The State has approached the Supreme Court once again on the Cauvery issue, this time seeking damages from Karnataka to the tune of about Rs. 2,480 crore for not following orders of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal (CWDT).

Watermarking data

Date: 23/05/2013
In a bid to bring transparency in the water sector, the Centre has decided to put in the public domain all water data maintained by the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the Central Ground Water Board.”

Panel advises revision of rain harvesting policy

Date: 15/05/2013
The committee formed to look into rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge in Delhi as a response to protesters who marched from Mathura to Delhi for the sake of reviving the Yamuna in March has recommended a slew of measures that includes revising Delhi’s rainwater harvesting policy.

Water Supply
Four lakh new meters installed in last six years, says Delhi Jal Board

31/05/2013 The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has refuted the claims of NGO Citizen’s Front for Water Democracy that the water utility is procuring more meters than it needs to.

Haryana giving Delhi more water than its share, says Hooda

Date: 29/05/2013
In the continuing water wars between Delhi and Haryana, Chief Minister of neighbour state Bhupinder Singh Hooda on Tuesday said Haryana was supplying to national capital more water than its legitimate share.

Delhi asks for expediting construction of dams

Date: 29/05/2013
Declaring that dams are the only possible source of water to meet the city’s future drinking needs, Delhi wants work related to the construction of dams on the Yamuna to be expedited.

Over 500 water samples found unsafe

Date: 18/05/2013
The North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) has reported contamination of water in a recent survey conducted by the civic agency in 12 zones.

Govt's new rule: Toilets mandatory in Indira AwasYojna houses

Date: 18/05/2013
Taking its sanitation drive a step further, the government has revised the guidelines of Indira AwasYojana, making it mandatory for all houses constructed under the scheme to have a toilet.

750 residents, but no toilet in this west Delhi slum

Date: 17/05/2013
A slum cluster in west Delhi has a problem that can shame the government for its lofty claims of making Delhi an ideal city.

2.4bn will lack improved sanitation in 2015: WHO

Date: 14/05/2013
About one-third of the world’s population — 2.4 billion people — will remain without access to improved sanitation in 2015, according to a joint WHO/Unicef report issued on Monday.

Superstitions wash out sanitation here

Date: 06/05/2013
Toilets are yet to be considered an integral part of houses in rural areas of Namakkal. Superstitious beliefs, religious sentiments and vasthushastra are making construction of toilets in rural areas of Namakkal district in Tamil Nadu an uphill task.

Solid Waste
Ten new prospective landfill sites identified for Delhi

Date: 30/05/2013
The South, North and East Delhi Municipal Corporations have been offered a list of 10 possible sanitary landfill sites to deal with the problem of garbage.

Joint Indo-Nepal effort to clean Mount Everest

Date: 28/05/2013
In a first of its kind initiative to clean Mount Everest, a joint army team of India and Nepal has collected over 4,000 kilogrammes of garbage that was polluting the slopes of the world's tallest peak.

Top hospitals flout waste disposal rules

Date: 23/05/2013
The national green tribunal has found that a majority of the hospitals in the National Capital Territory are not complying with biomedical waste handling rules and are thus posing a very serious hazard threat to human health and environment.

Have a civic problem? Click a photo

Date: 27/05/2013
The municipal corporations are looking at providing an option that allows residents to upload a photograph of any civic work related complaint on the corporation website and the agency will get down to the job immediately.

Forthcoming events
Conferences/Events in India
International Conference on Water, Wastewater and Isotope Hydrology

25th – 27th July 2013,IC-WWISH, UVCE Bangalore University, Bangalore, India.

Annual Conference on Water & Waste Water Management in India,

26th -27th June 2013, Le Meridian, New Delhi, India.

National Conference on Recent Advances in Membrane Processes for Water Treatment Conference

26th to 27th July 2013, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu, India.

International Conference on Green Technology Conference 26th to 27th July 2013 Thanjavur, Tamilnadu, India.
International Conferences/Events
ACSEE 2013 - The Third Asian Conference on Sustainability, Energy and the Environment Conference

6th to 9th June 2013, Osaka, Japan.

IWA 5th Eastern European Young and Senior Water Professionals Conference
26th to 28th June 2013, Kiev, Ukraine .
Asia Pacific Water Recycling Conference

1st to 4th July 2013 Brisbane, Australia.

36th WEDC International Conference: Delivering Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Services in an Uncertain Environment

1-5 July 2013, Egerton University, Nakuru, Kenya.