Work Overview

The Rural Water Programme works to stimulate the development of policies and strategies for sustainable, participatory and equitable water management in rural India. While the area of water is vast, there is a special focus on drinking water to look at how we can move towards sustained availability of safe and adequate drinking water.

Pesticide residues in blood of Punjab farmers

Pesticides are commonly used in India but this comes at great cost to human health. The Centre for Science and Environment decided to investigate the matter and looked at the agricultural heartland of Punjab. It found that  15 different pesticides in the 20 blood samples tested from four villages in Punjab. But what is more important to find out is how much of pesticide in blood is ‘safe’. Does a safety threshold level exist?

Mining Overview

Mining is a contentious subject. It generates almost as many viewpoints and positions as the number of its contestants. It is, unarguably, a core industrial sector and crucial for India’s economic growth. It is growing at a rapid pace – between 1993 and 2005, the mining sector showed a compound annual growth rate of 10.7 per cent. It is likely to grow at a much faster rate in coming years. Post-liberalisation, mining is being done not only to satisfy India’s domestic requirements, but also to meet the growing international demand. China, in particular, has emerged as a major market for Indian minerals.

About Media Fellowships

MRC has successfully conducted ten media fellowship programmes for journalists – on water, desertification, forests, sustainable development and livelihoods in India’s North-east, mining and environment, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, Rivers, coasts and indian cities under JNNURM. Last year also saw the first South Asian media fellowship on climate change, followed by the second South Asian Media fellowship on coastal concerns. These fellowships have primarily aimed at encouraging journalists to write on issues of development and environment.

Green Building Water Management

The Green Building Water Management (GBWM) component focuses on water efficiency and conservation in buildings at the city level.  GBWM has a unified focus on promoting green buildings by undertaking a series of committed activities through research, policy advocacy, awareness and capacity building etc.

About Decentralised Waste Treatment

Mainstreaming decentralised wastewater recycling and reuse through research, policy advocacy and training.  The objective is to build a movement across India and in South Asia for onsite wastewater management through networking and partnership with architects/planners, RWAs/institutions, local NGOs/CBOs, ULBs and parastatal agencies for  implementation of model projects.

Work Overview

Based on our years of work in the field, we realised the ineffectiveness of the State Pollution Control Boards (SPCBs) in their regulatory function. In order to understand the specificities and to recognise the very issues, we carried out a questionnaire based survey of the various SPCBs. The survey helped us pin-point the specific problems and needs of the state boards. We now plan to develop a Regulator's Training Institute which can help build capacity of our regulators.

Overview: Rainwater Harvesting

CSE started its work on water issues way back in the 80s, when it was becoming apparent that the water management paradigm based on exploitation of surface and groundwater resources even as it neglected capturing rain to recharge or for direct use would lead the country to a huge water crisis. CSE first focussed on pushing for policy reforms in the water sector to mainstream harvesting rainwater in both urban and rural areas. To support this policy advocacy, CSE undertook intensive and extensive awareness campaigns, capacity building workshops and informational materials. The outcome of this work was that there were supportive policy initiatives in urban and rural areas to promote water harvesting and all this was met with public support.

Climate and Transport

For the first time, Indian regulators are faced with this explicit connection – curb local air pollution to save lives, and at the same time, shrink carbon and energy imprints of vehicles to save fuels and the climate. But this synergy is the weakest link in our policies today. We are caught in serious trade-offs instead.

Tigers

Protection of tigers is happening in India against all odds. A Sariska-type crisis haunts every protected area in India - where islands of conservation are under attack from poachers, miners and every other exploitative activity. They are also under siege from their own inhabitants, the people, who live in these reserves and outside the islands of conservation, and who have not benefited from these protected areas but continue to lose livelihood options and face daily harassment. In these circumstances, if the defences are down, protection will fail. The challenge is to ensure that the siege can be lifted so that the tigers can survive.

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Centre for Science and Environment offers volunteering opportunities to people based upon their area of interest and expertise. It gives opportunity to people from all ages and from all walks of life, including students, professionals and retired individuals, a chance to view the world around them with a fresh perspective, and to understand the issues that CSE has been propagating for the past two decades and be enriched by the experience. CSE Volunteers gain a wealth of knowledge they would normally never have acquired.

Work Overview: River Pollution

With growing urbanisation and industralisation India faces the challenge of providing clean and safe drinking water to all citizens. In the name of economic growth most rivers and streams are turning into sewers. As more and more rivers are getting polluted, the municipalities are finding it difficult to treat river water to safe levels and supply it to citizens. Policies and programmes for pollution control look at water use, waste generation and pollution in isolation and this piecemeal approach towards river cleaning based on creating expensive hardware for waste collection and treatment has not worked. The rivers run dirty despite huge investments. 

Toxic toys

We generally take toys for granted but this may no longer be the case atleast not if we are concerned about the health of our young children. A recent laboratory study by the Centre for Science and Environment shows the presence of phthalates, a highly toxic chemical, in toys sold in the Indian market.

Mercury: Heavy Toxin

Mercury is a very toxic and dangerous substance. It is  poisonous in all forms - inorganic, organic or elemental. Mercury is a proven neurotoxin. Inhaling mercury vapours can severely damage the respiratory tract. Sore throat, coughing, pain or tightness in the chest, headache, muscle weakness, anorexia, gastrointestinal disturbance, fever, bronchitis and pneumonitis are symptoms of mercury toxicity. Health concerns should be reason enough for us to properly manage its imports and disposal. On the contrary, mercury has come to severely contaminate land, water, air and the food chain throughout India.

Trans fat in oils

Oil is essential for our body to function. But that does not mean that we should take for granted the cooking mediums we use in our food. As the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) laboratory report recently discovered our branded edible oils are full of unhealthy trans fats. The results showed trans fats in seven leading vanaspati brands were five to 12 times the 2 per cent standard set by Denmark. Trans fats are formed during the process of addition of hydrogen atoms to oils, a process industry prefers as it keeps the oil from turning rancid and ensures a longer shelf life.