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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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Water Kills ! – Drought & Food Crises are effect of Climate Change


 

I begin this article with another excerpt from the WRI blog – The unsustainable use of water and the risks it creates is on the minds of many of the thousands of water experts from the corporate, NGO, and government worlds who convened in Stockholm last week for World Water Week. Teams from the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), World Resources Institute (WRI), and Water Footprint Network (WFN) convened a seminar called “Towards Sustainability: Harmonising Water Tools for Better Water Governance”.

My thoughts turn towards Cities. A lot has been written about Sustainable cities and how almost all great cities of the World  have originated around the banks of rivers. Mumbai too grew around rivers, and continued to do so till the turn of the Century when we finally turned the Mithi River into a stinking clogged drain and in 2005, she in protest inundated Mumbai. The famous Mumbai floods of 26/7/2005 would forever haunt those who suffered its wrath.

And seven years after the incident, India has learnt nothing. In fact we still alternate between drought and flood every year in some city or other.

The erratic monsoon has led to pest attacks and fungal infestation on as much as 50% of the cotton, soya and paddy crop, aggravating Vidarbha’s agrarian crisis. A fallout of this is a rise in farmer suicides, including five in the last 72 hours, taking the toll to 50 deaths in August alone and 526 in 2012 so far. Report by Yogesh Pawar DNA Newapaper

To those who wonder how the draught in Vidarbha region effects Mumbai, the megalopolis the connection is simple.You see, as a Green Building consultant by profession,I do not have any idea of how to grow grain, pulses or vegetables. Which is laid on the dining table of millions like me. Professionals who only have the power of purchase, but not the skill to survive a single day, should the Farmers perish!  The story is not about a single region but all of rural India which alternates between drought and flood with regular monotony, every year for the past 60 years of Independence ! Water & Food are closely interrelated. And presently it a danger looming large on the face of the civilized World.

Both Drought & Flood are adverse situations, with the potentially destructive power to Kill. The former can suck out the last drop of the precious liquid from any life form by its absence and its over presence can drown and wash away the very existence of civilization.

Global Warming & Climate Change is just about that – the revenge of Water on Civilization. A Civilization which is so callously hurtling itself towards self invited doom, by setting the Global temperature rise by 3.5°C. created by the high-carbon life-style of the Peoples. And it is well understood by the Government of India, which has a detailed study on linking climate change & drought.

It is therefore important for Cities around the Globe to adapt and if still possible mitigate the apocalypse. And among many measures, some of the best are those which the C40 Cities program present ( Mumbai & Delhi are signatories ). Each city in the C40 is unique in its infrastructure and progress in addressing climate change. To the uninitiated; C40 works to empower cities to connect with each other and share technical expertise on best practices. C40 is a network of the world’s mega-cities taking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. With a unique set of assets, the C40 works with participating cities to address climate risks and impacts locally and globally.

We all are aware of the Mumbai Floods of 26th July 2005. There were severe drought in parts of India between the period 2002-2005. Large tracts of India are prone to droughts. 68 percent of India’s land mass is drought-prone to varying degrees, of which about 50 percent is chronically drought-prone. As per Government of India’s estimate, there are one or two years of droughts every five years in semi-arid and arid regions of India.

If one reads the report on Mumbai water requirement, it would be adequately clear that as the City expands the fresh-water requirement of the city is going to be woe-fully short. While I have commented on water in my earlier article Green Business Ideas – Sell water at the price of petrol – and reap the ‘fringe’ benefits.The idea there was to increase the conservation of water in Rural India.  Now, as the Nation grows, the existing Cities would be under tremendous strain to expand and accommodate, while the second tier cities and towns would be looked at by policy makers to develop as alternate destination to over saturated Megalopolis.  And when we speak of development, in terms of Cities we are talking of expanding the foot-print of the Urban Concrete Jungle. To understand the situation below is a report.

A World Bank report says –  Temperatures have soared in India this summer. The scanty monsoon rains have been unable to replenish reservoirs or recharge diminishing groundwater. Much of the country is reeling under acute water shortages. In water-starved cities like Delhi, those who can afford it pay large sums to private suppliers to fill up household tanks. India’s burgeoning cities, already bursting at the seams, are struggling to provide their residents with basic services. No Indian city receives piped water 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Raw sewage often overflows into open drains, polluting ponds, rivers, and groundwater. Although cities like Delhi receive with 220 liters of water per person per day – much more than Paris, for instance – some 40-70% of this water is lost due to physical and financial leakages.  Consumers bear the brunt of these inefficiencies……There is a clear need to revamp the system. No time can be lost, as India is in the throes of an unprecedented urbanization, the second in the world after China, with a further 10 million people expected to move into the urban areas each year. …… There is a growing realization that creating infrastructure alone will not solve the problem; the management of urban water supply services will also need to be addressed to arrive at a sustainable solution.

The C40 City program, water sustainability has been in the agenda, with some great ideas on containing waste, the case study of Emfuleni, South Africa is a interesting read.

In this article, we shall explore some unusual ways to save the most precious and limited resource – Water. Especially in the Urban setting of Mumbai. My suggestion would be to look at Water a little more closely and with a different perspective. I hope the idea would also be able to attract some thought for the future cities the world is building to house the incoming horde of 9 Million humans by 2050.

Every mega-city which is built has a net-work of services, and among the various services, is the storm water drain. Ideally the town-planners design the drain to discharge the water into the sea, or river.

Ideally there should not have been any human induced Climate Change and Water Crises!

Now that we have established the situation to be dire, how about channelling the storm water back into the under-ground reservoirs?

Aug 9, 2010, DNA Newspaper report –

Geologists expressed serious concern over the unregulated withdrawal of groundwater.

“Indiscriminate and unplanned extraction of groundwater could lead to wells yielding saline water for some time and then drying up,” V Subramanyan, a former geology professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), said. “Even the surface streams may lose their water.” It was imperative, said Subramanyan, for a coastal city like Mumbai to retain the state of already existing equilibrium between freshwater and saline water. “Excessive pumping of wells or heavy withdrawal of water through several wells located near each other can disturb this balance,” Subramanyan said. “In either case, the underlying saline water encroaches upon the fresh water column and contaminates it.” SK Gupta, former deputy director of groundwater survey and development agency (GSDA), Konkan Region, said it was important to improve the groundwater levels through rainwater harvesting. Gupta said that preference should be given to ring wells instead of borewells to improve the quality of groundwater. Subramanyan said that recharge ponds should be built to tackle the crisis……

Imagine building a new City where  a network of pipes would be laid, in such a fashion that the surface run-off  ( as in Rainwater Harvesting )  or the excess water which falls on to the streets, pavements and other public places, get collected through a net work of drainage system which instead of discharging the fresh water right back into the sea or river gets collected at the city fringe into artificial lakes  or holding ponds, which then percolates deep into the water table below. The world over fracking is being done in search of gas, for once we can use the technology to replenish ground water and re-charge dried out water table. And this fracking along with holding ponds perhaps can be created around and in the low lying areas of some of the existing cities too, to a certain extent, to stem off emergency situations.

Let’s take the case of Mumbai, the pace in which unplanned Urban development is happening; thanks to a few corrupt builder- politician-bureaucrat nexus. If disaster strikes, either natural or man-made most of Mumbai is not geared in any  manner to bear a long haul situation. What would happen if  we have an earth-quake and the water-pipelines which are feeding Mumbai with water, rupture extensively and compounded with massive sedimentation of the feeder lakes, which may render the waters temporarily harmful for consumption?  In such a situation Mumbai would face unprecedented water crisis.

And the beauty of official apathy and ignorance of the Political class can’t be better summed up than the following report  on the same subject on Aug 12, 2010 DNA News report

….. The water table in south Mumbai is shallow. A rainfall above 500mm is sufficient to fill it to capacity,” Gupta said. The area has already seen rainfall in excess of 2,200mm. “The additional water received in the form of rain is being rejected by the ground. This is causing the run-off,” Gupta added…. The hydraulic department, meanwhile, has begun planning ways to stem the surface run-off. “We will have to ensure that the ground water table declines,” a senior engineer said. One of the measures being discussed is digging an open well near Metro Cinema. “This will help extract 50,000 litres of groundwater daily. As the water table decreases, the aquifer will begin accepting rainwater again,” the engineer said…..

That there was ground-water reject also inversely means that, when there is scant rain-fall the water table gets dry. Therefore as Climate change would be bringing in more drought than rain-fall, the posh South Mumbai, would need to depend on the water being pumped from the lakes 100KM away from Mumbai. Therefore we must think of ideas to recharge and also divert the excess, from the South to the North of the City where water crisis is an everyday struggle. And also create holding ponds, which not only would beautify the city but perhaps assuage  Mumbai by feeding water from within the city limits. And in one brilliant stroke give the villages around the six lakes the first right of use of the water. (Six lakes in and around Mumbai supply water to the city.) Which is dined to them to quench the insatiable needs of Mumbai.

The thought is there, the process are known. It is the implementation that matters. As an old proverb goes – ” A stitch in time saves nine”; so would action taken on ground in an immediate basis would perhaps save many a City from civil commotion in the absence of  Water in the future.

Because, water is saviour when respected but extracts a terrible vengeance if mocked.

Courtesy: http://vidarbha.webs.com/ , http://www.c40cities.org/about, http://www.worldbank.org, http://www.dnaindia.com

 

 

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