Tag Archives: water

Is it time for Bhopal to deliver on water front?

Manoj Misra

Any city, big or small is in many ways an organic entity. It consumes (energy, water and food) and it discards (air, solid and liquid wastes). A ‘smart’ (popular euphemism) city would endeavour to consume smartly (no more than needed) and discard smartly (no pollution of atmosphere, land and surface or ground water).

Magnificent Upper Lake of Bhopal


It took me all 20 years to return in 2017 to Bhopal. Having spent all those years in Delhi and seen the national capital degenerate into an almost unmanageable human habitation I was glad to be back to a place where early morning air still smelt fresh and municipal supply water was potable without resort to an RO machine. So when Bhopal in 2018 was declared the second (after Indore) most clean (swatch) city in a national survey I started to look around and assess for myself if the designation was well placed.
Having spent more than a decade grappling with the issues of river Yamuna and water in Delhi, my attention in Bhopal obviously got attracted to the state of water and its management in Bhopal.

Upper lake and Bhopal skyline

Any city, big or small is in many ways an organic entity. It consumes (energy, water and food) and it discards (air, solid and liquid wastes). A ‘smart’ (popular euphemism) city would endeavour to consume smartly (no more than needed) and discard smartly (no pollution of atmosphere, land and surface or ground water). Let us see how Bhopal performs on just its water front?

A city while consuming fresh water produces broadly three kinds of waste (grey) water all with a definite end destination. Sources and scales of these are at households (including institutional spaces), city and industries level. Households produce sewage (bathroom and kitchen reject); City produces water rejected from its various components (market place, transportation, beautification works, water works and sanitation lines etc) and storm period run off; while Industries produce some sewage and lots of industrial effluents.

The end destination of each of these are individual septic tanks/soak pits in case of unsewered households; Storm water drains for storm period surface runoff and in case of a city with sanitation lines (in sewered areas) closed pipes, often underground leading to a sewage treatment facility. Industries would of course treat its effluent at an effluent treatment plant and recycle most of its treated water. An industry would ideally be a zero discharge unit.

Bhopal is not only waste water delinquent but visibly polluting too.

Against the above, what I found and it didn’t surprise me coming from Delhi that Bhopal is not only waste water delinquent but visibly polluting too. That the problem is still under the carpet is to my understanding because of the scale. City is still small enough for a full blown crisis situation to unfold itself. But this is also an opportunity to set things right while there still is time at hand.

Narmada pipeline

Narmada water appears to have provided a sense of plenty (except when pumping against gravity falters at times) to the city and its managers. A sense of plenty can make anyone including a city notoriously wasteful. A recipe for disaster is then not far off.

Reportedly Bhopal treats at its 7 sewage treatments plants only 17 percent (50 MLD) of all (300 MLD) the sewage that it produces. Most of the storm water drains in the city are today doubling up also as receiver of its solid waste (of all possible kinds) and liquid waste including untreated sewage and industrial effluents. Narmada water appears to have provided a sense of plenty (except when pumping against gravity falters at times) to the city and its managers. A sense of plenty can make anyone including a city notoriously wasteful. A recipe for disaster is then not far off.

True mark of a swatch and smart city would be its adequate and functional waste water (sewage and industrial) capabilities when its storm water drains carry nothing but only storm period runoff in nalas (drains) that are no longer termed ‘ganda’ (dirty) but are as they should be the welcome greenways of the city? Ready to take the challenge Bhopal!
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The author, Manoj Misra, is a former forest officer. He convenes the Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, a civil society consortium. Manoj Misra was the Executive Director of the PEACE Institute Charitable Trust and Convenor. He can be contacted at yamunajiye@gmail.com.

Tamil Nadu battles with heavy rains and disruption

Newsroom24x7 Desk

tN 1Chennai : Non-stop downpour plunged entire state of Tamil Nadu into deep water-troubles, as incessant rainfall in most parts of Tamil Nadu region resulted in cutting off road connectivity, damaging functional roads, disrupting commuting and bringing railways to a disruptive halt at critical junctions. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has been working overtime and rescued more than a thousands of stranded people from the sensitive areas which have immersed under heavy stagnation of water, resulting in an almost flood-like situation within the land-locked areas of the state.

Around 1400 people have been rescued by the NDRF across the entire state of Tamil Nadu. NDRF Director General OP Singh informed that that 12 teams have been deployed in areas with flood-like situation, and the NDRF team members have successfully retrieved more than 2500 people from such inundated areas. The authorities in Tamil Nadu further updated that nearly 5,300 people have been rescued, from far end of water logged areas. Although some places have become severely inundated in water, with barely some safe spots for people to hold on to and perch upon, the rescue teams have been able to reach there. Such regions have been kept under first rescue-radar and NDRF along with local assistance teams are working overtime to provide relief and evacuation for the stranded Tamil Nadu citizens.

To shelter the evacuated, dozens of relief camps have been set up on a very urgent makeshift basis. These shelter camps have been able to assist in providing some urgent relief to the stranded. People have not been able to move out with many belongings as water forced them to just walk away with very bare essentials. The shelter camps are providing rest and lodge facilities to the bare minimum basic requirements, and has been able to restore some amount of peace to the shelterless. Food being another basic requirement, it is too being catered by administration which has come into full swing and started distributing thousands of food packets to the affected people. Food and water facilities have sprung into full swing action, especially in those areas where shelter camps have been set up.

People who have self-evacuated from their inundated premises are also reaching to the nearby shelter camps and getting accommodated in the camps, with food and shelter. Services from Indian Air Force (IAF) wing has also shown prompt assistance, by airlifting deeply stranded, non-approachable citizens in remote areas. The IAF airlifted 22 people, including 12 infants, from rainwater-inundated parts of Chennai on Monday. The army has also involved its team in the evacuation process and personnel from the force are working together in co-ordination with other rescue teams and bringing out stranded people from unapproachable areas. Places which are deep in water have been converted to temporary water bodies, and vehicular movement being totally incapacitated, waterway mechanisms have come into ready use there. The extreme conditions and water filled lanes have forced the rescue teams to provide boats for transport, and people themselves are either wading, swimming out or taking a boat ride on the erstwhile roads of the state for rescue measures. People heve been forced at several places to resort to boats as means of transport.

Administration had taken precautionary measure early days and declared all educational institutions to shut down, which helped a long way in this inundation. Schools and colleges were shut down in parts of Tamil Nadu as heavy rains set off by the northeast monsoon battered the southern state and seaside areas in neighboring Andhra Pradesh.

Meteorological Department had earlier predicted these heavy rains in Tamil Nadu as the cyclone had not yet waned down and was still active near the coastal region of Tamil Nadu which faces Sri Lanka. Chief minister J Jayalalithaa reviewed the situation in her rain-hit RK Nagar constituency in Chennai and announced Rs 500 crore for relief and rehabilitation. CM also took cognizance of the entire situation and has been taking regular updates from authorities, insisting and monitoring speedy rescue efforts.