COLOGY & ENVIRONMENT
Water Worries in India
Enormit.Calamity not Registered by Administration
The water footprint is an indicator of both the direct and indirect use of water by a consumer or producer.
The water footprint of an individual, community or business is defined as the total volume of freshwater used to produce the goods and services consumed by the individual or community.
Water footprint varies from country to country, depending on each region’s consumption. It also depends on the climatic conditions and water usage in areas where consumer goods are produced.
Compared to international stand ards, Investment in water and sanitation is very low in India. However, compared to the past, access to water has increased significantly. But no major city is known to have continuous water supply, and an estimated 72 per cent of people still lack access to improved sanitation facilities. It is noted that Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan have better sanitation records than India.
Untreated Wastewater: When it comes to sanitation and treatment of wastewater, the situation is alarming. Most Indians depend on on-site sanitation facilities. Sewerage facility is often in had shape. Of the 2.5 billion people in the world who defecate openly, some 665 million are in India. This is of greater .concern as 88 per cent of deaths from diarrhoea occur due to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene. Only an estimated 27 per cent of wastewater is treated in India.
- Falling Groundwater Level: With varying rainfall and depleting groundwater, the country has the challenge to ensure supply of freshwater to its ever-increasing population. Also, it needs to undertake complete wastewater treatment immediately.
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Ethanol blended petrol remained a myth in India nearly five years after a Group of Ministers recommended a mandatory 10 per cent blending of ethanol in petrol as vehicle fuel. The implementation of the idea remains in the doldrums due to the failure of administration in decision making. The reason being none of the ministries. consulted agrees with the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy’s proposal regarding ethanol-blended petrol (EBP).
The most vociferous opposition has come from the Planning Commission and the Department of Chemicals who have rejected mandatory blending, and supported the view of the PM’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) that given the fickle supply of the biofuel, blending should be kept optional.
PMEAC had said that the percentage of ethanol blended and its procurement price should be left to market forces so as not to help one sector at another’s cost. This would allow the oil marketing companies (OMCs) to achieve targets in line with the availability of ethanol, it argued.
While backing mandatory blending, the renewable energy ministry had asked the CCEA to choose between the pricing proposed by the Saumitra Chaudhuri Committee and leaving it to market forces.
The Chaudhuri panel had recommended last year that ethanol should be fixed at Rs 27 per litre with a floor of Rs 23 and a ceiling of Rs 31, with the provision of a review by an inter-ministerfal group in the event of a breach of the price band in two successive quarters.
The Department of Chemicals argued that making EBP mandatory would hurt the chemicals industry by diverting its share of ethanol to the OMCs. It said that 5 per cent EBP would require 105 crore litres of ethanol annually, even though the OMCs could procure only 36 crore litres last year. The Department of Agriculture & Cooperation supported mandatory blending, hut objected to fixing a price band for ethanol. It backed market-based free pricing of the biofuel, a concept ingrained in the PMEAC report.
The Department of Food & Public Distribution, on the other hand, agreed to a floor-and-cap system, but wanted that the floor price should not be below Rs 27 per litre. It also sought fixing of the price for one year at a time, rather than quarterly.
The petroleum ministry, the only one to accept Chaudhuri panel’s recommendation, wants to keep away from future pricing of ethanol which is a politically sensitive issue, with key CPA ministers pushing for a higher price for ethanol so as to improve earnings for the sugar- industry. •
The ministry has expressed disagreement with the proposal that it should pilot issues of ethanol pricing in future. Petroleum was the first to seek mandatory EBP which was approved by the CCEA in October 2007 as a measure to reduce the fuel import bill and lower India’s dependence on fossil fuel.
All these issues need to be resolved in the interest of citizens of India but not for the profit motive of any governmental organization or department. Global warming cause can also be answered through India’s contribution in its own way. Market forces may not be interested to be concerned about the climate change.