New Delhi: Uninterrupted access to clean water has emerged as one of the most critical issues in the 21st century as it affects billions of people around the world. The grave water situation in the eastern region of India calls for a better water management and the urge to take immediate steps to improve the management of water utilities, reduce wastage of water, promote water conservation. Against this backdrop, CII Eastern Region under the ‘Mission Environment’ forum organized the second edition of Water Conclave today in Kolkata. The central theme of the conference was “Preparing for a Turbulent Future”.
The focus of the conference was on the latest water and wastewater treatment technologies recycle and reuse technologies, water demand and management, water efficiency and conservation, sustainability, irrigation water and regulations. Water Conclave 2011 deliberated on the Indian water market & issues and business opportunities & investment in eastern region.
Addressing the conference, Shri A K Bajaj, Chairman, Central Water Commission & Ex – Officio Secretary to the Government of India stated that water not only sustains life but also helps in socio economic development of any community. Shri Bajaj cautioned about severe challenges in the form of ever-increasing population, steady rise in irrigation activities, rapid expansion of industries, urbanisation and modern living that are set to exert tremendous pressure on the available water resources. He stated that India has only 4 per cent of world’s fresh water resources and climate change would put in more stress on the water availability.
Shri Bajaj affirmed that the demand for water, whether for domestic, irrigation or industrial purposes, has been on the rise and water, which was available in abundance, is showing signs of scarcity in India and abroad. Several challenges in the form of declining per capita availability, deterioration in quality, over exploitation of groundwater resources leading to soil salinity and lowering of water table had already come to the fore while climate change is another complex issue faced by people today. He urged all the stakeholders to ensure cooperation and involvement, including the government, industry, NGOs and actual users by establishing appropriate linkages.
Mr Kurush Grant, Immediate Past Chairman, CII Eastern Region & Director, ITC Ltd avowed that the biggest problem relating to availability of water is that we believe that it is our right to get free water. He stressed on the formulation of a joint policy on water. He said that “Reduce, Re – use and Recycle” are the three most important step towards water management. Industry needs to reduce its use of water per unit of production and they need to be water positive. Government should incentivize industry for using less water. Re – use and recycling of water are also important. Mr Grant stated that a concept for offset of water can be introduced. He concluded by saying that water is a scarce commodity and we need to rationalize the use of it.
Mr Sanjay Mark Wadvani, Deputy High Commissioner, British Deputy High Commission said that historically, need for water has made man to live near it and organize access to it. If water has the capacity to enhance life then its absence can make it miserable. He further stated that the global water demand could double by 2050 and experts also predict the occurrence of water wars. The most serious issue is that 1.1 billion population in the world lack access to safe water. He avowed that UK and India aims to work together towards integrated water management. Both the nations can work towards ensuring optimum utilization of water, effluent treatment, arsenic mitigation, oceanography besides others.
Mr R K Agrawal, Deputy Chairman, CII Eastern Region affirmed that uninterrupted supply of clean water is a critical issue. Climate change is one of the main causes leading to scarcity of water. The demand for water is increasing due to rapid growth in economy, population, urbanization and industrialization. He said that there is an urgent need to change the water technologies. An appropriate legal framework is also the need of the hour.
Mr Pradeep Dhobale, Chairman, Environment Task Force, CII Eastern Region and Executive Director, ITC Ltd stated that CII intends to work closely with the Central Water Commission towards integrated water management. He said that research & development in water is of immense importance.