Economic remedies for water crisis
While contemplating our natural resources, past conversations often centered around fossil fuels and them becoming scarce due to overuse. However, recent conversations have stirred our attention to another natural resource that is available in abundance but is still causing a crisis in many parts of the world.
 
Water!
 
Water covers approximately 70 per cent of the earth, but only 2 per cent of it is fresh water of which 1.3 per cent is in the form of glaciers and polar ice caps. Many developing countries are struggling with ensuring that this basic resource is safe and accessible. Nowhere is this more obvious than in India. The country has 16 per cent of the world's population and only 4 per cent of the world's water resources at its disposal.
 
The situation is made worse by the fact that 70 per cent of its water is contaminated. As a result, India ranks 120 among 122 countries on the Water Quality Index released by WaterAid. According to the Composite Water Management Index (CWMI) report released by the NITI Aayog in June 2018, 21 major cities including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad are racing towards zero groundwater levels by 2020, affecting access for 100 million people.
 
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which came into effect from January 1, 2016, aim to ensure Clean Water and Sanitation availability and sustainable management of water for all (Goal 6) by the year 2030. This is a basic human right which needs to be given the highest priority over other demands, considering the impact of a water crisis on food supply as well. The northern states at risk of water scarcity as per the CWMI report also account for about 20- 30 per cent of the country's agricultural output, which indicates the associated food security risk for India.
 
One of the major reasons for this water crisis is groundwater depletion. Many states like Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan have an annual groundwater consumption much greater than annual groundwater recharge. Moreover, this is only increasing with time. According to a study, India's rate of groundwater depletion increased by 23 per cent between 2000 and 2010. India also uses the largest amount of groundwater - 24 per cent of the global total - which is even more than China. This has resulted in overexploitation and contamination of groundwater.
 
Another problem is the neglect of local water bodies which are being encroached or have dried out. Over-reliance on monsoons with water management systems have led to this predicament. The World Health Organisation (WHO) states that an individual requires around 25 litres of water daily for meeting his/her basic hygiene and food needs. The rest is used for purposes like mopping and cleaning. This shows that for purposes other than drinking, non-potable water can be supplied. Thus, for economic efficiency and environmental sustainability, water must be supplied according to usage.
 
Looking at the gravity of the problem, the Union Government has formed a Jal Shakti Ministry, which has launched a targeted water conservation programme that emphasises on specific interventions like rainwater harvesting and watershed development. While this is a step in the right direction, India cannot fight this problem without changing the dystopian reality of its agriculture and irrigation system. To ensure complete utilization and maintenance of irrigation assets, states need to implement robust participatory irrigation management measures. There is a need to modernise the irrigation methods and adopt newer technologies while also switching to less water-intensive cash crop.
 
Additionally, states also need to drop the practice of supplying free and subsidised water. Market-based solutions through pricing of water supplied to urban homes can encourage efficient usage of water. Equity can be ensured through consumption slabs for the same. Delhi government, for instance, is making laudable efforts to address the water crisis by initiation of water harvesting plans on the Yamuna floodplains and installation of rainwater harvesting structures in all government buildings and existing structures. But these efforts need to be supplemented with elimination of free water supply to households that can very well afford to pay for it.
 
To develop long-term solutions, state governments can incentivize entrepreneurs in designing decentralized technologies for measuring and improving water quality and recharging groundwater. They also need to renovate existing infrastructures, such as water treatment plants, water networks and reservoirs. The idea is to supply water to more people using the same capacities, rather than waiting for new infrastructures to be built. Public-private partnerships can be the way to go, where the public sector must retain ownership on the assets and set tariffs ensuring that these resources are affordable for all. Lastly, emphasis on behavioural change should also be made. As local citizens and beneficiaries, we need to have the realization of our responsibilities and face the consequences of our actions. We need to keep our own usage and actions in check to overcome this issue before most of our cities are parched.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    Heroin valued at Rs 600 crore seized in Delhi
    Police have seized around 150 kg of Afghan origin heroin valued at Rs 600 crore in the international market, officials said on Friday.
     
    The Special Cell said a heroin processing unit in the making had been busted. Five persons including two Afghan chemical experts had been arrested. Several luxury cars were also seized.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    8 Flaws in the State’s Approach Will Make the Coastal Road One of the Greatest Financial Blunders
    On 16th July 2019 the Bombay High Court blocked the Coastal Road (CR) Project, asking for new environmental clearances for the Rs14,000-crore 29.2 km long coastal road joining South Mumbai to Borivali in the North. It also quashed the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) clearances granted to it. 
     
    The Court said that there is “serious lacuna” in the decision-making process and noted that the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) should have obtained environmental clearance under Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) notification issued by the Centre. The Court lamented that “…a proper scientific study has been overlooked by Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority (MCZMA), the EIA and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF).”
     
    Here are the major issues with the way the government went about planning the coastal road.
     
    1. Shoddy Planning: A lot of concerned citizens who have had a look at the project concluded that the entire planning process (not only the environment part) for the CR has been shoddy. 
     
    The first and foremost requirement while planning any work is to establish the need for the work for which pre-feasibility and feasibility studies are essential. After the feasibility is established, a detailed project report (DPR) is prepared for obtaining a decision on investment for the execution of the project. 
     
    While establishing the feasibility, various alternatives are discussed to ascertain whether the same goals can be achieved by any other means and with fewer resources and cost. Clearances under the Environment Act, Wild Life Protection Act etc. come at a much later stage. 
     
    2. Fundamental Issues Ignored: The government did not get into basic questions such as, is there is a need for the CR? Aren’t there alterative and better solutions? Will a spending Rs14,000 crore actually reduce congestion? No rationale for the project was established, risks associated with the project have not been evaluated and no sensitivity analysis done. Here the independent variable is the actual traffic that will be diverted on to the CR.
     
    A perusal of the Bombay High Court order dated 16 July 2019 shows in paragraph 165 that the only point other than “environment” that has been petitioned in the public interest litigations (PILs) is that of the metro being constructed parallel to the proposed CR. If pre-feasibility and feasibility had been done, the construction of the metro would have automatically figured in working out the traffic that would be diverted to the CR. 
     
    3. Need for the CR Not Established: Our study reveals that the authorities had already made up their minds to construct the CR and all studies were designed to support this decision. In actuality, the Detailed Project Report (DPR) has not established the need for the CR. It is not a question of “for” or “against” but “with” and “without” that has remained unanswered. 
     
    Further, it is not clear as to who are the real beneficiaries of the project. The CR will transport about 1.36 lakh cars i.e. not more 1.64 lakh passengers (taking average occupancy as 1.2 as per MCGM) on any given day. As opposed to this, the suburban rail corridors move more than 36 lakh passengers every day. Six car lanes in the CR are meant for car owners and only two for public transport. And despite this, the public is being made to finance the project.
     
    4. Objectives Not Quantified: The objectives have not been quantified accurately e.g., the number and type of vehicles that will be diverted to the CR in a given period from the existing parallel roads. The objective of the CR as stated in the report: “This report presents studies carried out under the guidance of the Hon’ble Additional Municipal Commissioner (Eastern Suburb) to verify the feasibility of the proposed coastal road and recommendations for the detailed design stage of the project.” 
     
    This gives the game away. It is clear from the objectives that the DPR was meant to “verify (and not ascertain – emphasis mine) the feasibility of the CR and the detailed design.” The objective shows that the authorities had already made up their minds to construct the CR. This is the most unprofessional objective anyone can come across anywhere in a DPR. 
     
    5. Guidance from Unqualified “Experts”: Further, including the caveat -- “under the guidance of the Hon’ble Additional Commissioner” is ludicrous when bureaucrats lack the basic professional competence, qualifications, and experience to make a DPR for such an advanced and sophisticated project. Some of the other major indicators to show that the DPR was just a white wash to endorse a decision already taken are given below.
     
    6. Errors in Working out Major Indicators: The Origin-Destination (OD) survey does not include the critical question of “willingness to use the road”. The consultant has safely assumed that all commuters would use the CR. In fact, the surveys have not been conducted strictly as per the Indian Roads Congress codes and mandates. 
     
    Inadequate sample size can lead to wrong conclusions. In this case, the DPR has omitted its mention. Speed & Delay (S&D) survey was done only on one corridor and the results of that corridor are not available in the DPR. Classified volume count i.e. the number of vehicles by types is given but its categorisation is not given. Only total number of vehicles is given. 
     
    Impact of Ganesh idols immersion on the tunnel both due to weight, change in soil conditions and social repercussions when certain beaches will not be available for immersion, have not been considered.
     
    7. Contradictory Statements About Viability: In paragraph 15.9 “Conclusion from economic analysis and financial analysis”, it is stated:  “From the economic analysis it may be concluded that, the construction of the proposed CR may be considered as economically viable” meaning that the CR project is profitable to the government, to the economy and would improve the welfare of the citizens. 
     
    However, paragraph 13.7 of the DPR shows a negative economic internal rate of return (IRR) at ( ΜΆ )2.55% with a meagre 1.47% as financial IRR. There is further confusion in the statement that follows in paragraph 15.9, “From the financial analysis results it may be concluded that the construction of the proposed Coastal Road is financially not viable on build, operate, transfer (BOT) basis.”
     
    Even then, the DPR has concluded that the project is “economically viable” despite the economic IRR being negative and the project hardly sustainable financially at 1.47 % FIRR. 
     
    8. Misleading Statement: The DPR states on page 154 that NOC (No Objection Certificate) from the High Court is also required in reference to PIL 87 of 2006. This appears irrelevant because the final order dated 21 September 2006 in respect of PIL 87 of 2006 states, “We are afraid, the subject matter of the writ petition cannot be said to fall within the domain of public interest litigation. We dismiss the writ petition accordingly.” Do we need any further evidence to show that the whole DPR is fudged to enable the CR being made “under the guidance of the Hon’ble Additional Municipal Commissioner (Eastern Suburb)”?
     
    Global experience shows that investments go waste when projects are undertaken without a DPR or the DPR is “fudged” or wrongly prepared. Nagrik Chetna Manch had filed a PIL about a flyover costing over Rs100 crore constructed in Pune with a fudged DPR. Instead of reducing the traffic congestion, the multi-storied flyover has added to the woes of the motorists and hardships of the pedestrians. A foot over bridge made without a DPR in Pune had to be demolished after a couple of years because of lack of its usage with its columns obstructing pedestrians.
     
    We strongly recommend that concerned citizens and non-profit organisations should take up PILs on issues other than the “environment” because our experience shows that hardly any project fails the test of environment. The government can even change the legislation to accommodate its pet projects. Moreover, here we are talking of Rs14,000 crore! Do we want to see this enormous amount from our own pockets going down the Arabian Sea?
     
    Maj Gen SCN Jatar (Retd) was chairman and managing director of Oil India and ONGC Videsh. He is working to bring transparency in governance and volunteers with Nagrik Chetna Manch, Pune
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    COMMENTS

    K C Gangadhar

    4 weeks ago

    I think this is a fit case where Moneylife should pursue relentlessly till the project is dropped. We cannot allow such colossal investment which brings no identified benefits for the good of larger populace of the City.

    REPLY

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    In Reply to K C Gangadhar 4 weeks ago

    Yes, let's also chip in towards that end

    Chetan Bordawekar

    1 month ago


    We don't need Coastal Road in Mumbai because It will congest Mumbai city as well as Western Suburbs. It will bring huge volume of cars from Marine Drive and put it various parts of city where there is a little room for disbursal. This will result in massive jams across the western coastal line. Same thing will happen at Marine Drive while going to South Mumbai via Coastal Road.
    We have seen this on Bandra Worli Sea Link where large volume of cars come from Worli and creates traffic jam on WEH due to little room for disbursement., vice versa at Haji Ali Jn.
    So no more link roads which brings large volume of cars at one go and accumulates post exit points. This results in massive jam. Therefore I oppose Mumbai Coastal Road Project.

    I suggest Coastal Road Project money can be utilized to buy new BEST Buses to ensure sufficient Number of buses on Mumbai Roads.

    Thanks & Regards
    Chetan Bordawekar

    RAMACHANDRAN THARKABHUSHANAM

    1 month ago

    THIS IS HOW PUBLIC MONEY IS SQUANDERED. TAX PAYERS MONEY IS LOOTED BY SUCH PROJECT DEVELOPERS AND VVVVIPS WHO ENJOY SHAMELESS PERKS WITHOUT HAVING ANY ACCOUNTABILITY.

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    1 month ago

    The only thing for the common people, from the CR is a nice laugh. Let's not miss it πŸ˜…

    JaeyeB

    1 month ago

    Perhaps no one realises that the CR also helped release all the land locked under CRZ regulations and FSI restrictions along the coastline for more construction. Projects which were stalled or not getting clearances have suddenly sprung to life post the CR works along Worli. The entire project is to appease a few developers, raise funds and guess who have invested into those projects, something to dig into further.

    REPLY

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    In Reply to JaeyeB 1 month ago

    πŸ‘, At the expense of ordinary people, out of the pockets of ordinary people.

    S Ramaswamy

    In Reply to PRADEEP KUMAR M S 1 month ago

    that is governance

    abhi

    1 month ago

    Crux of the matter is ruling mafia wants to loot the exchequer at any cost

    REPLY

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    In Reply to abhi 1 month ago

    πŸ‘, elementary - dear Watson πŸ˜€

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    1 month ago

    I have always challenged the real estate Don's concept that Nariman Point is the centre of universe and that all roads must necessarily lead to it from all corners of the world. Ha ha ha ha ha.

    Suketu Shah

    1 month ago

    It is 14000 crores now.By the time it finished after 6 yrs it wl be 50,000 crores.Superb article.

    REPLY

    S Ramaswamy

    In Reply to Suketu Shah 1 month ago

    Only Money life has the guts and spine to challenge prestigious white elephants

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    In Reply to S Ramaswamy 1 month ago

    I endorse

    SuchindranathAiyerS

    1 month ago

    This is standard Indian Governance. Since seventy years and counting. The amazing thing is that an Indian court has halted it. For now.

    REPLY

    S Ramaswamy

    In Reply to SuchindranathAiyerS 1 month ago

    But who cares about the likes of us?

    PRADEEP KUMAR M S

    1 month ago

    It is indeed a colossal blunder.
    But it is only for you and me and likes of us.

    We are listening!

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