Regional Workshop on "Energy and Resource Efficiency in Urban Water Management” in Guwahati, Assam on February 28, 2013
Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) organized a regional workshop on “Sustainable Water and Sanitation: Energy and Resource Efficiency in Urban Water Management” on February 28, 2013 at the NEDFi Conference Hall, Guwahati, Assam. The workshop was supported by Urban Development Department (UDD) and Guwahati Development Department (GDD), Government of Assam as the local partner state. The workshop is part of various activities supported under the Comprehensive Capacity Building Programme (CCBP) – National Urban Renewal Mission, Ministry of Urban Development and Government of India.
At the inaugural session, Mr Moloy Bora, Joint Secretary, GDD welcomed the participants representing key functionaries from Water Resources, Public Health Departments, Development Authorities, Town and Country Planning Pollution Control Board and local bodies of Government of Assam and other Northeast states such as Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura. The government officials were both policy makers and senior officials involved in planning and implementation of NURM projects in NE states. Among the other participants were faculty and researchers from IITG, Gauhati University, professional bodies, practitioners, consultants and NGOs involved in advocacy for sustainable urban water management in North Eastern states.
Dr Suresh Kumar Rohilla, Programme Director, Water Management, CSE presented an overview of the water and waste management in NURM phase I and the challenges in expanding the accessibility and availability of water supply and wastewater treatment to make the NE states and mission cities vibrant. He emphasized that one of the prime objective of NURM Phase II is to establish carbon neutral and energy efficient smart cities. He set the tone of the meeting by setting out the objectives of the regional workshop as follows:
To generate awareness about the best management practices (BMPs), state of art knowledge and reforms in the area of energy and resource efficiency in urban water management in NE states.
To discuss with key stakeholders the concept, issues/barriers and experiences in mainstreaming of the reforms in the sustainable water management area
To explore capacity building support required to implement projects aimed at mainstreaming environmental sustainability related reforms in the NURM schemes
Hilly streams and Brahmaputra as natural resources are the identity of the Northeast regions that stretch over six Indian States – Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya. Resource and energy intensive development in practice with the rapid urbanization is resulting degradation and pollution said the Guest of Honor and Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, Government of Assam, Mr. J. B. Singh. He reiterated the need for energy and resource efficient systems in the management of water and waste in NE states particularly.
The chief guest of the programme, Captain Robin Bordoloi, Chairman of Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) speaking at the workshop highlighted the challenges and potential specific to urban water management in the city of Guwahati. He added that the JnNURM Phase II focus areas require hand holding support for state agencies in developing - planning, designing of credible projects for funding from the central schemes.
There were experts from Alliance to Save Energy, Bangalore and School of Planning and Architecture, N.Delhi to talk about energy and water efficiency/ audit in water management at municipal and building levels, while expert from National Environmental Energy Research Institute, Nagpur presented an eye opening solution to treat wastewater at a low cost energy. Expert from IIT Guwahati shared ecological and energy efficient practices for storm water management.
The workshop concluded with the idea that there was a need of capacity building programmes to promote decentralised water-waste management systems and CSE definitely needs to get involved in the state programmes and train the government officials on the tools, techniques and policies on decentralised techniques of water management related to reforms of JnNURM.
Surface water sources such as lakes, ponds and rivers are very important as they help in flood control, ground water recharge and storm protection. They also secure water for drinking, agriculture and industrial purposes. They play an important role in mitigating and adapting to the climate change effects. Once, lakes and wetlands played a vital role in South Asia’s urban landscape, but rapid urbanisation in the region has led to massive encroachment and pollution of its waterbodies.