Tag Archives: Ganga

Green Business Idea – River Transport within Mumbai & Smart City ideas !

The UN Secretary General, call for a meeting on the 23rd September, to understand what each Country would be doing, in his attempt to lift sagging morale of the environmentalists and continued disinterest of the World leaders for providing time bound doable agenda which would actually translate to abatement of Climate Change, needs all the support one can give.
To blame World Leaders would be wrong, simply because there are very few in the World arena today who have leadership quality. Had it not been so, Syria would not have had a blood bath from which spawned the ISIS. But, selling weapons of Mass Destruction is also good for the Economy. At least in the short-term. For some.

Almost all the industrial sectors are in some way related to and prosper from War! From Gold to Games all profit. Yes, games..almost everyone can take part on the near real episode of glory and gore, without actually dying!

Perhaps it would make a lot of sense if Countries could have a CGI war ! The losing side could have all its real money, converted to bit-con transferred to the winners. As the say, a failed economy is as good as a dead economy! At least the planet & people would remain untouched in the bargain.

But this sadly is not the case across the Middle East or South Europe! Add to that the deadly mix of Ebola and flood and drought!

As many climate change report have more or less predicted what anthropogenic Global Warming would bring about. Armageddon  is perhaps imminent in the near distant future !

So what if the UN Secretary General, provides the World Leaders with another option to boost economy other than oiling the war machine?

What about asking each world leader to adopt a developing or underdeveloped Nation’s city and help transform it into a Climate Resilient City. For the Building Industry too uses almost all the industrial goods and services as does the war machines. So here is another opportunity to boost the Economy and lift the sagging morale of the Environment brigade.

At least in India, they can immediately start on 100 of them !

Then look at the impacts of joining rivers! And cleaning the Ganga ! For in some parts the Ganga still lives. Are we sure we will not uproot an ecosystem, which may be a possibility if it needs to be navigable all the way?

Rivers of Mumbai

And while we are at it perhaps practice cleaning up the smaller rivers first which go from within the megalopolis, to gain first hand experience of which company will do the best?

Mumbai, therefore offers one of the best opportunity to showcase a Eco-friendly transport solution thus making it a  smart city from a sublime mess it is today!

At one stroke of a genius a politician can not only win the hearts and minds of the people for a longer time, but also ensure that the commercial city thanks it with continually filling it’s party coffers! (No politician worth his/her salt would touch anything which does not give for self-aggrandizement. Thus for the greater good so be it).

Let us look at the advantages and possibilities of cleaning up the rivers of Mumbai.

For starters lets count some of the rivers in Mumbai 1. Dahisar River a river in the northern suburbs of Mumbai near the suburb of Dahisar. It originates in the Tulsi Lake in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park in the northern reaches of the city.

2. River Mithi (also Mahim River) is a river in Salsette Island, on which the city of Mumbai is located. It is a confluence of tail water discharges of Powai and Vihar lakes.

3. Oshiwara River begins in the Aarey Milk Colony, cuts through the Goregaon hills, across the Aarey Milk Colony before emptying into the Malad Creek. On the way it is joined by another creek near S.V. Road.

4.Poisar River begins in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and empties into the Marve Creek and finally into the Arabian Sea.

The Polluted & Choked Rivers of Mumbai

The Dahisar River was once so picturesque that Hindi films were shot here. During 1956-57, crocodiles were witnessed to be residing the river, thus proving that it could harbor life and had a perfectly balanced ecosystem.

The rivers are nothing more than a mere stream when it begins and is contaminated with industrial effluents and sewage.

What we see in Mumbai is more or less happening all over the country and even the world. Rivers are dying. And we all know that great cities around the world are mostly near river banks.

But when I look at the Mega Urbanized Mumbai, which perhaps has all the failures of modern human habitation; I can also find rivers & lakes and a  forest reserve, which overlooks the sea! An extremely rare and perhaps unique combination of diverse ecosystem within a small geographical area.

This is indeed a city worth saving and transforming into a model from were others can learn and follow. How to coexist !

And to transform this city we need a Green Business Idea. After all it is the business hub of India with a sizable Gurjati population, who too can lay claim that business is in their blood just as our P.M Mr. Narendra Modi !

The blue print for it is already there. What we must is implementation in the shortest possible time. And add to it the concept of river navigation. From a quarter away from the point of origin, to keep it safe and more pristine, let water transport begin. With boats which are designed with roof-top Solar to power it.

There would be an immediate appreciation of real estate around the banks of the river, and as stringent laws would apply for better discharge of residential waste water (with complete ban on industrial discharge; or with super efficient affluent treatment); redevelopment, of projects would take place.

The economy would naturally take a boost. By utilizing its rivers for transport. Just as the suburban railways or the Metro which is its new addition. One look at the origin and exit of Mumbai Rivers in the map given, completely proves the feasibility of such a venture.

While the river cleaning action and the operating of ferry would also boost many business, at the same time stringent actions can be taken for CRZ ( Costal Regulation Zone ) violations. One of the moot reasons for CRZ violations is rooted in the concept of having a home facing the water-front! Be it anywhere in the World, a sea or river facing property always fetches a premium. So would all the future properties along the banks of the rivers of Mumbai.

I say future, because the current batch of buildings which are being designed need a serious overhaul and we must build Energy Efficient Buildings which would be Climate Responsive and at the same-time vernacular in design, thus blend form and functionality.

Malabar Hill, Mumbai in 1900’s

Imagine a stretch of real estate, about half a mile deep on both the banks of all the Mumbai rivers, which gives the citizens a feel of living in Goa. Yes! the climate and the feel of Mumbai of the Koli’s must have been pretty much like the holiday paradise.

The average productivity of each Mumbaikar would increase many-fold. Life-style related disease would reduce and pollution would be brought down. With efficient river transport coupled with the already existing suburban rail and metro network, the need for passenger cars would reduce thus leading to de-congested roads.

The areas around the length of the river would have several parks and open spaces which would once again become the natural catchment areas and soak up the rain to create higher underground water table, thus keeping the sea away. And also reduce the potable water crunch Mumbai faces every summer. And if the dredging improves the flow of water current; electricity too can be generated through micro-hydle mechanism. Thus a river alive today would have multiple use to business. While remaining sustainable.

And this idea would resonates so well with the World Bank thinking. As in World Water Week (August 31-September 5), the World Bank has warned that the world’s present ways of producing energy and providing clean water are currently on a collision course.

World Water Week 2014

The Bank says that 15% of water withdrawn from the environment presently goes to energy production, and that  amount will rise to 20% unless there is a rapid shift to sustainable forms of energy. This comes at a time when clean water is becoming an increasingly scarce commodity.

It also warns that climate change will put further pressure on water and energy manage­ment by causing more outages to the water supply and intensifying severe weather events, such as floods and droughts. (read more)

It would also make a lot of business sense to have the City of Mumbai transformed into a Smart City, as it could act as a model for the new cities which we are thinking of building. What would work and what could fail can be easily mapped in this city is a microcosm of the country at large. The fight between nature and man,between conservation and commercialization is so well seen in everyday life of this once beautiful city.

The new capital near the city of Vijaywada which the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu is considering to develop. And considering that he is part of the NDA which is headed by our forwarded thinking Prime Minister, who would want to balance Economy and Ecology (although he is suspect of leaning more towards the Economy, presently) the idea that the researchers at Imperial College London have calculated must be brought to fore. The findings suggest many companies investing in projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, such as tree-planting programmes or funding green energy in developing countries, may be having a bigger impact than they realise. Each tonne of CO2 offset by businesses brings $664 in additional benefits to host communities….But the paper outlines that purchasing carbon credits from well-managed offset projects not only reduces emissions, but also “creates economic development opportunities, aids environmental conservation and helps improve people’s lives by delivering household savings, health benefits and improving water resources, among other social benefits”.(read more)

So if business is in our Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s blood, I hope he would be able to transfuse some into the cabinet, albeit changing its colour to Green ! And it would not be a moment too soon, as Andhra is a stricken Naxalite state. And farmers too are a distressed lot.

A recent study of the World Bank says that there has been a dramatic decline in honeybee populations. It has received wide media coverage, and not just because it imperils honey production. Agricultural production is also at risk, due to the important role bees play as pollinators. In fact, the value of the services they and other insects provide for the main global food crops has been estimated to amount to $209 billion a year, or 9.5 percent of the value of total global agricultural food production.

In light of the challenges posed by the decline of honeybees – and while the jury is still out on what exactly is causing the decline – the resources farmers have at their disposal to maintain or boost their productivity levels bear thinking about. In fact, even absent this decline, an economic analysis of farming techniques seems appropriate given the profit-maximizing nature of most farm operations. However, very little work has actually been done to look at natural ecosystems and the boosts they can provide to agriculture. (read more)

And there is this last thing which our Prime Minister whom we believe has a sense of National pride would want to showcase at least one of the 100 cities in the C-40 cities campaign. Yes, both New Delhi and Mumbai were signatories which was was mentioned in –Urban Development Rules: How C40 -City rules can make a difference for India.

However, in the City Climate Leadership Awards to be held on 22nd September in New York, India sadly does not figure.While each of the efforts are business opportunities. Or rather Green Business Ideas –

C-40 Cities Award Finalist

C40 Cities Finalists.


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India to connect all its Rivers

The DNA New Paper today had a fantastic news about how all the rivers of India can be connected to provide water in areas required by diverting the flood waters of one into the other. A fantastic read, given below but raises a few questions which I would like the world community to help answer, because just like air, water to is connected but finally at the Ocean. But if one looks closely at the estuaries, they have marine life unique to the confluence of the river that meets with the sea.  How will by connecting the rivers, the aquatic life and the surrounding fauna & flora of the downstream get affected? We all understand that the Indian sub-continent has various soil types, each with its unique chemical composition. While having canals taking water to great distances for irrigation may not have had any long-term negative effect. If we link two rivers which may have different aquatic life, whether the intermixing would be positive or otherwise need to be studied and if studied reported about.

Abridged text from the DNA paper-

“The perennial problems of drought and flood which ravage the country will be a thing of the past if all major rivers are inter-linked. By inter-linking the rivers, what we do is to transfer the surplus flood waters from Brahmaputra Mahanadi, Ganga and Godavari to water deficient rivers in south India through a network of canals. This will help us in boosting our agricultural production, increase the forest cover and bring down pollution,” Prabhu told DNA. S Kalyanaraman, former director of Asian Development Bank, who undertook 20 years research on ILR said the project would help in generating 40,000 MW clean and green energy. “We can bring in nine crore acres of additional wetland into farming and this will benefit 45 cr people,” said Kalyanaraman.

The normal annual Indian surface water resources are about 68,969 Thousand Million Cubic feet (TMC). Out of this we use only 8,814 TMC, that is 13%. The remaining 87 per cent, (that is about 60,155 TMC), is wasted into the sea every year, say Natarajan and Kallolikar. “The value of one TMC of flood water let into sea in terms of paddy and pulses is about Rs32.5 crore. The total irrigation potential that can be created by utilizing the entire floodwater let into sea is 241 million ha, the production of foodgrain is 1,477 million tones (1,326 million tones of paddy plus 151 million tones of pulse) and the value of total flood water in terms of paddy and pulses is about Rs20 lakh crore (value of paddy is Rs 13 lakh crore and the value of pulse is Rs7 lakh crore) per annum. The value of food grains wasted in the last 61 years in the independent India is Rs1, 220 lakh crore,” Natarajan and Kallolikar said in the paper they submitted to the Planning Commission emphasizing the need to inter link the rivers. Natarajan said if the flood waters of Godavari in Andhra Pradesh is diverted to Mettur Dam in Tamil Nadu, the dam would get filled in ten hours. “Tamil Nadu’s entire irrigation requirements could be met with this water,” he said.

The Indian Space Research Organisation has drawn a blue print for implementing the project with the help of images.

Resonating my thoughts,on 5th March Mr. Subratha Sihna editor in the DNA News paper, wrote in the analysis this piece, which I think almost all who work with water must look at with a degree of seriousness.

Based on a Public Interest Litigation, a Supreme Court division bench in the early 2000s had directed the Centre to implement the controversial river linking proposal involving more than Rs500,000 crore (approximately $110 billion) without bypassing any of the essential procedures in the process by 2016. There was an unprecedented outcry against the proposal from civil society — including a representation to the prime minister by 50 citizens of national eminence. The proposal was put on hold. The present bench of the Supreme Court, in fact, has revived the ‘the instrumentalist vision’ to complete the process; with the caveat of setting up a high-powered committee to ‘implement’ the project.
In unsuitable, arid or semi-arid, agro-climatic regions, excessive water transfer and usage have caused irreversible land degradation. About three-fourth of prime agricultural was lost by water logging, salinity and erosion by 1980. These irreversibly degraded tracts include the command areas of Tapi, Mahi, Chambal, Tawa, and Narmada in western UP and Rajasthan, providing a frightening preview of river linking, whose major thrust is on transferring water into inappropriate terrain. Basically, the concept of surplus or deficit is alien to river basins. Each drop has its use in preserving the river regime and environmental health of the basin.
Fundamental objections to river linking:
1. Linking of rivers violates the natural laws governing the life support system, and natural dynamics; and discounts the bounties provided by river systems.
2. The loss of flood plains and spill basins by human interference has caused devastating floods. River linking shall enhance this situation.
3. Man-made dams, reservoirs, and artificial lakes that are to be project ingredients would rob the rivers of their energy potential.
4. In fact, stupendous energy would be needed for the rivers to jump over the natural water divides and topo-barriers.
5.Rainfall and water availability is regulated by the monsoons, resulting in a highly bimodal annual river flow and moisture regime with consequential seasonal lows (droughts) and highs (floods). River linking shall certainly aggravate both droughts and floods by superimposition of the situation in each of the linked rivers.
6. Such linkages could possibly be thought of in more temperate latitudes with a more homogeneous annual moisture/flow regime. However, the Soviet experience of river diversion has even then been catastrophic, resulting on the devastation of the Aral Sea.
7. A river is not a mere flow channel, but a holistic system encompassing the whole basin — water divide, catchment, valley and outflow point. Any alteration shall affect the whole system and even induce microclimatic changes.
8. Inestimable loss of natural biodiversity, wild cultivars and plant gene banks shall inevitably follow river linking to disrupting the regional food chain operation.
9. Monsoonal rainfall on the degraded catchments shall cause excessive siltation-related problems in the linking systems.
10. Careful scrutiny of the state of environmental health of various rivers should have been first made before clean rivers are linked very filthy rivers.
11.River linking shall inevitably lead to an alteration of the seasonal water availability pattern; and the possibility of upsetting the evapo-transpiration balance.
12. An inevitable change in the cropping pattern from excessively irrigated lands after river-linking shall cause a major increase in methane and other gases that contribute to global warming.
13. Land degradation shall also be inescapably aggravated.
14. The colossal estimated cost will surely jeopardise the national economy for decades and force diversion of funds from the more essential needs of the vast majority of rural poor.
15. The inter-state and international ramifications of shared riparian systems would certainly open the floodgates for a civil war situation and serious discord with India’s neighbours.

Not only is any such proposal for inter-basin transfers totally repugnant to all natural and economic logic, but shall alter the subcontinent’s geographical configuration. In the ultimate analysis, the proposal shall signal the death knell of our river systems that provide the principal source of sustenance; and encompass social, cultural and religious traditions.

The Beneficiaries of River Linking:
The politically important consideration for drawing up the river linking plan was the emergence of major national and transnational industries and rapid urbanization in many of the ‘low water availability’ natural regions of the west and south. It was purported also to help the commercial farming lobby for sugarcane. A case of ‘mortgaging the nation’s future for a miniscule affluent population.


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