‘Quick Decisive Action Need of the Hour, as Water Crisis Looms Large’: CII Annual Water Conference

Posted on Mar 12 2014 - 10:49pm by IBC News

Photo Caption: Mr. Soumitra Bhattacharya, Past Chairman, CII Karnataka, Mr. Hariprasad Hegde, Convenor, CII Karnataka Water Task Force, Mr. Kapil Mohan, IAS, Principal Secretary, Water Resources, Government of Karnataka, Mr. Ian Felton, Deputy High Commissioner, British Deputy High Commission & Mr. Sandeep Maini, Chairman, CII Karnataka

Bangalore, 12 March 2014: CII Karnataka organized the Annual Water Conference 2014 in the city today. The theme for this year’s conference was Urban Water Management. A Study on Urban Water Management was released by Mr. Kapil Mohan IAS, Principal Secretary, Water Resource Department, Government of Karnataka.

Karnataka State Water Network (KSWN)an initiative which aims to synergise efforts, share knowledge, inform on policy and action sub-groups was also launched during the conference.

Bangalore’s water demand is increasing at a fast pace with its rapidly growing population. In spite of several initiatives by the government Bangalore’s water demand supply gap is estimated at 750 million liters a day and is expected to increase to 1300 million liters a day by 2026. To compensate this shortage the city is resorting to extraction of ground water, as a result of which ground water tables have sunk to record lows. Such is the gravity of the situation that there are areas in Bangalore where water is not available even at a depth of 300 meters while 70% available ground water is either non potable or not recommended for use.

The conference suggested 6 initiatives that could yield an impact of up to 750 million liters of water a day to bridge the demand supply gap and address the issue of vanishing lakes and ground water quality degradation.

Mr. Kapil Mohan, IAS, Principal Secretary, Water Resources Dept. Government of Karnataka said that most natural resources are in great demand and the stress associated with water is increasing day by day. In Karnataka 3500 TMC of water is available out of which 2000 TMC is around the Western Ghats where there are environmental issues leaving just 1500 TMC for use. Bulk of the state’s water comes from the Krishna basin, followed by Cauvery basin which is already stressed and then there is the Western Ghats which is largely untapped because of environmental concerns. According to him the Karnataka Government has a concrete plan to ensure water security for the state.

Mr. Kapil Mohan also said that the government is in the process of setting up water audits for consumption whereby industry will need to improve their water efficiency by 20%. He requested the industry not to wait for regulations but to do it voluntarily.

Mr. Sandeep Maini, Chairman CII Karnataka said, the onus of protecting the City’s water resources does not lie with government alone, all stakeholders including builders, communities, NGOs and industries need to come together and play a critical part in helping the city adopt sustainable water conservation practices. We should work towards advance diagnostics and move away from taking water for granted.

According to Mr. Hariprasad Hegde, Convener, CII Karnataka Water Task Force & Global Head-Operations, Wipro Ltd., there is a growing realization among industry that in order to fix the issue of water, it is necessary to go beyond their constitution. He said that the water conference is an attempt to reach out and encourage organizations to look beyond their fences, collaborate, converge and make meaningful impact. He said thatthe compelling purpose of the KSWN is to integrate & synergise the various parallel efforts / initiatives / studies / research going on in the field of water.

Mr. Maheshwar Rao, IAS, Commissioner for Industrial Development & Director of Industries and Commerce, Government of Karnatakawhile speaking on the importance of water for the industrial sector, said that availability of water is key to investment in the state. Location of industry becomes an issue, while there is land available in the southern part of Karnataka, the availability of water is limited. Projects that are hugely water intensive need to look at innovative solutions to tackle the issue of water.

According to him, the government is exploring all options including water recycling, desalinization and sewage treatment, Bangalore currently produces about 800 MLD of sewage which can be treated and provided to industrial areas around Bangalore.

Mr. Soumitra Bhattacharya, Immediate past Chairman, CII Karnataka said that the development of Bangalore is one of the four pillars of CII Karnataka and in this context, ‘Urban Water Management’ fits right in. Bangalore has a growing population and addressing the issue of water is an unimaginable challenge. Highlighting the need to curb leakage and wastage Mr. Bhattacharya said that average Indians roughly spends 1/3 of their lives wasting away. He said the question remained on how to strike the right balance by slowly releasing subsidiaries, without alienating the people. While applauding rain water harvesting in the state, he said that implementation is an issue.

The daylong conference provided vital inputs into protecting city’s water resources and prescribed various measures for a more sustainable urban water management system. Several experts in the field along with representatives from industry and government laid the initial steps for a collaborative effort to tackle the sensitive issue of water sustainability.