Sustainable Management

Bringing ‘anytime water’ to parched Barmer districts in India

” Two companies, the government and an NGO team up to build user-friendly reverse osmosis plants in this district in India’s Rajasthan state

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It is scorching hot in the town of Kawas, in India’s Rajasthan state, but Kamla Devi, 35, is not deterred. She has walked to the RO (reverse osmosis) plant to fetch drinking water. “It’s an addiction now,” she says, “to drink this pure water.” Kamla says she doesn’t want to even think that only a few months ago, she used to drink brackish water, which, people from an NGO later told her, was contaminated with fluoride, nitrate and potassium. No wonder, she adds, people in the family had joint pain and gastric trouble.

Standing behind her in the queue, Sua, wife of Bhawra Ram, a tailor, says she feels the difference the RO water has made. “Earlier I had a hard time getting out of bed at 5am due to joint pain, and felt weak in the daytime and often had to rest. But now all that has changed,” she says while swiping her card before the tap begins to fill her can. Every day, she takes two cans of 20 litres each to meet her family’s drinking water needs.

At a similar plant in Bhimda village, Kalpana Kumari, 16, can’t hide her excitement about her father giving up opium. “He consumed it to get relief from joint pains, and then it became an addiction, but last month, there was a de-addiction camp in the village and he vowed to kick it. But I would like to believe that it has also got to do with this water that we now drink,” says the Grade 10 student of Gayatri School, a stone’s throw from the RO plant.

More than 300 villagers in four villages of Barmer district’s Baytoo and Gudhamalani blocks are now using these anytime-water (ATW) prepaid cards to get RO water. The machine dispenses water after the card is placed on the sensor.

In western Rajasthan, women bear the burden of water scarcity — quite literally. Balancing pitchers on head, they walk home from faraway water sources. There is an absence of surface-water resources; rainfall is sparse; and the groundwater, saline and unsuitable for drinking or irrigation. People used to harvest rainwater in traditional underground water-tanks. These tanks with a capacity of 15,000-20,000 litres could stock water for four-five months only. In the summers, people had no option but to rely on groundwater, which had a high fluoride content and harmful pathogens. Getting a water tanker to deliver 5,000 litres cost Rs1,000-1,200 (Dh61-73) but quality was still an issue. Fluoride in water was the reason for a high incidence of dental and skeletal fluorosis in the villages.

In April 2013, Cairn India, the oil and gas company which has an operation in the Barmer district, decided to provide people access to clean drinking water under its corporate social responsibility programme.

Says Ritu Jhingon, general manager, CSR, Cairn India: “We decided to establish RO stations through a sustainable model of self-ownership to solve this problem. Locations in the Cairn intervention area with a minimum of 250 families or 1,250 people were identified for these plants that would provide villagers clean drinking water at the cost of Rs5 for 20 litres.”

The first plant was set up in Gudhamalani on April 20, 2013, and five more followed. These plants operated from 10am to 5pm. But soon, when it became clear that the timings needed to be made more flexible, the concept of anytime water was worked on.

Cairn India teamed up with Tata Projects, Rajasthan Government’s Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) and Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to initiate the Jeewan Amrit Project under which RO machines were fitted with sensors to scan cards.

Cairns and Tata bore the cost of setting up stations; PHED supplied raw water to the plants. Cairn India assistant manager (CSR) Uma Bihari Dwivedi says that prepaid cards are issued to villagers for Rs150, the cost of 600 litres or 30 cans of potable water. After 30 cans, the card can be recharged with a minimum of Rs150. For every 20 litres, Rs5 is deducted from the card.

The PHED water has total dissolved solids (TDS) of 3,000 to 4,800 parts per million (ppm). The RO machines at these stations reduce the impurity to 60 to 80 ppm.

“The machine produces 1,000 litres of product water per hour and the good thing about it is that it has a capacity to reject 99 percent TDS from raw water. This is a rare feature and is not available in other RO machines sold in the market,” says Mahesh Panpalia, CEO of Dhara Sansthan, the implementing partner of Jeewan Amrit Project. “As per the norms, 45 per cent is what we get in the form of product water and 55 percent goes as reject water. This waste water is used to recharge groundwater through soak pits or used in construction.”

Dhara Sansthan, along with the government’s Communication and Capacity Development Unit (CCDU), creates awareness about and generates demand for RO water. The CCDU consultant in Barmer, Ashok Singh Rajpurohit, who has written a book on water conservation efforts in the district, adds: “We use street plays, puppet shows, school sessions, wall writings, slogans and handouts to create awareness about clean drinking water and harmful effects of fluoride-containing brackish water.”

There are 13 RO stations in Barmer, and five of them — in Kawas, Bhimda, Sawau Padam Singh, Akdara and Baytoo Bhopji — are ATW card-enabled. Three more, in Santara, Hemaguda and Kanod, are under construction. One such station is also being installed in Barmer’s Police Lines for families of those working in the police department. Each station can issue a maximum of 250 water cards. Today, Kawas has 160, Bhimda 110 and Sau Padam Singh 90 cardholders. In Baytoo Bhopji, only 20 cards have been issued so far while in Akdara, water is being provided free of cost. For the first few days after installation, water is provided free of cost as a promotional offer.

To make it a community entrepreneurship model, the project appoints a committee of local people for monitoring. The committee, called Peyjal Vikas Samiti (Drinking Water Development Committee), comprises one official each from PHED and Dhara Sansthan and 15 community members. It is responsible for appointing an operator for the plant, doing monthly review of the book of accounts, holding meetings every month or fortnight, collective decisions and monitoring cash flow. The committee members also work towards increasing water sales.

The annual maintenance cost of the RO plant is about Rs180,000 and the minimum sale required to meet the break-even point is 100 cans daily. “In Kawas,” says Jethalal Chaudhary, 45, a member of Peyjal Vikas Samiti, “the average is 150 cans a day. Sometimes people take as many as 50 cans a day if there is a ceremony, such as a wedding, in the house.” In Bhimda, Malaram, the operator, says, the sale is picking up gradually, now at 60-70 cans a day. “Salesmen are also encouraged to take water from us,” Panpalia says. “They can sell it for Rs10 a can. The additional Rs5 is for transportation. Our station caters to people from nearby areas, within the radius of 5-6 kilometres. But they [the salesmen] can take it farther, to even houses in remote locations.”

Panpalia says any income above the break-even point can be used either to upgrade the plant or to carry out a development work in the community that has the approval of 80 per cent of the committee members.

In Barmer, where water is locked up and guarded, and where it is reused as far as possible in washing, clearly it is a “RO-volution” of sorts. ”

 

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Food For Thought: Renewable energy can never be sufficient to power the planet, can it?

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”   Renewable energy can never be sufficient to power the planet, can it?.

Answer:

The solar energy falling on our planet in one hour is greater than the energy from all the fossil fuels used by all of humankind in a whole year. Add in the energy of the tides, driven by the relative motion of the Earth and the Moon, and geothermal heat from deep underground, and it is clear that there is no shortage of renewable energy available to us.

The nature of renewable sources of energy is very different to the fossil fuels we currently depend on. Oil, gas and coal reserves are stored energy. Provided we can find them and extract them as fast as we want to use them, we can use as much energy as we like, when we like. We don’t, however, control when the wind blows. Weather forecasting gives us some idea, but if we don’t use the power of the wind when it is available, then we’ve missed it.

We need to change the way we think about energy to take account of these differences. We need ways of storing renewable energy in times of plenty for use in times of shortage, and more clever ways of using it so that demand is better matched to supply. Biomass fuel crops can store summer sunshine for use as winter heating fuel, but this brings with it many disadvantages. The electricity grid can work together with intelligent appliances to move demand for power away from peak times. But there remain some difficult areas, notably transport. There is no obvious successor to the vast quantities of easy-to-use liquid fuels that power our cars, buses and planes.

The important first step in this transition is to use less energy and to use energy more efficiently, in order to buy time to allow the supremely inventive species that is humankind to devise a safe route to our very different energy future. 

Alastair Sawday (2008: 47) What About China?

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Food For Thought: There is no alternative to flying, especially for cross-continental travel. You can’t expect people to go back to boats.

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”   There is no alternative to flying, especially for cross-continental travel. You can’t expect people to go back to boats.

Answer:

 Two journalists raced from central London to central Paris. The one who went by train (using Eurostar) got there before the one who flew, and the cost was roughly the same.

Until the 1990s most people who went to France and onwards to other continental countries went by ferry. The ferry companies operated from lots of southern ports and competed vigorously with each other. Then came the Channel Tunnel and the competition got hotter. The ferry companies slashed their prices and became even cheaper and more comfortable. People would even pop across to France for the weekend. Though generally we took longer foreign holidays. Once in France, of course, it was considered easy to drive long distances. Or you could pop the car on the train – or travel by train without it, anywhere and easily.

Then along came the low-cost airlines. Within a few years we have got used to nipping across the Channel by air, at a frequency unthinkable a few years ago – so much so that airports are now becoming crowded and unpleasant. If you have ever been badly delayed, or diverted, or held up by security checks, you will know what I mean. In fact, given the need to get to airports earlier and earlier before a flight, the total travel time for a lot of continental journeys can be greater by air than by rail and even by ferry in some cases. (Try flying to Normandy.)

It is true that to travel right across Europe to, say, Hungary is bound to be quicker by air than by train and ferry. But speed isn’t everything, is it? There is a now growing movement towards ‘slow travel’, getting from place to place at a pace that creates no stress and is actually enjoyable. Many people are taking the train to Italy, say, rather than the plane; and counting their blessings. The process of travelling can be half the enjoyment. A comfortable ferry journey followed by a train ride is something to look forward to. There is no reason why we should be frightened of switching from flying will cost a great deal more than it does now. Oil is now over $100 a barrel, unthinkable a while ago. Some predict that it will double in price within a year or so.

Alastair Sawday (2008: 65-66) What About China?

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Food For Thought: It’s the responsibility of politicians and world leaders, not me. What difference can I make?

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  It’s the responsibility of politicians and world leaders, not me. What difference can I make ?  

Answer:

 Let’s imagine: a parent and child are watering their garden. Father controls the tap while daughter holds the hose. When they’ve finished the job he says, “That’s enough now, stop all the holes in the spray head with matchsticks”. “Dad”, she replies, “are you mad? Turn the tap off !”

The father’s stupid approach is rather like present policies where we are urged to use low-energy light bulbs and travel less while politicians and world leaders allow, even encourage, the extraction of as much fossil fuel as possible. Can’t they understand that, once out of the ground, these fuels will be burned and the carbon dioxide they release will reach the atmosphere? If politicians are serious about greenhouse gas emissions they must find a way to reduce, not increase, the amount of coal, gas and oil that is extracted within, or imported into, a country. Unless they control the tap all our attempts to reduce emissions in a hundred little ways will be useless.

But how will politicians be persuaded? Unless the public puts pressure on them corporate interests will rule. Corporate lobbyists will twist any complicated legislation to their own advantage. Politicians pretend to the electorate that they are concerned when they introduce targets, taxes and incentives, but these blunt instruments cannot guarantee that their commitments will be met.

A new wave of thinking suggests that the solution must involve individuals. The atmosphere does not belong to corporations – not even to countries or governments. We all, as individuals, have an equal right to its life-maintaining properties. This new thinking led to the suggestion that everyone should have personal carbon allocation managed with the help of a smart-card. Points would be deducted every time you filled your car or paid your heating bill. And you could sell any surplus points so that the gas-guzzler would subsidise those with a low carbon footprint. This approach would have a huge psychological impact since it would make us all aware of our responsibility for carbon emissions. But it would be very difficult to administer even in an industrialised country.

For a policy to be adopted it must be simple, and for it to be politically  sustainable it must be popular with the electorate. So the approach has been modified as CAP-and-Share – in America a very similar policy is called the Sky Trust – which would be easy to introduce. Under Cap-and-Share much of the astronomical income enjoyed at present by fuel producers would go to individuals. The Irish government may be the first to adopt it. This is how it could work for Ireland’s transport sector:

  • A cap, which reduces each year, sets the maximum emissions allowed from all road transport.
  • All adults receive equal emission-permits that, together, add up to the amount of this cap.
  • People can then sell their emission-permits through brokers to whichever fuel-importing company offers the best price.
  • Importers would not be allowed to sell fuel unless they had enough permits to cover its emissions.

With less fossil fuel coming into the economy, its price would rise and push up the cost of living but, instead of the oil companies making ever-larger profits, people would receive an income from the sale of their permits to compensate for the higher prices, and local economies would flourish because of this injection of money at grass-roots level. The government would use its normal powers to ensure that essential users, like ambulances, received their necessary share, and that biofuels were not allowed to compete with food production.

The Irish application of Cap-and-Share to an individual sector of the economy demonstrates that it could run alongside the European Emissions Trading Scheme (EU-ETS) – until the ETS collapses. IF CAP-and-Share were introduced on a global scale, or even within a large country like China or India that is struggling with discontent as world food prices rise, much of the money that at present pours into oil-rich countries would stay and automatically relieve their rural poverty.

What difference can you make? Urge your politicians to put a cap on the use of fossil fuels and share the right to benefits from the use of those fuels equally among all citizens. And join the transition movement where communities work together to find a post-carbon way of living. ”

Alastair Sawday (2008: 14-16) What About China?

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A Perfect Environmental Ecosystem!!

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” Let’s fantasize for a moment and ask: What would an ideal farm in Brazil that was operating as part of such a Clean Energy System look like? Imagine Senhor Verde has a thousand-acre farm, with a river full of fish running through it that is adjacent to an expanse of natural forest loaded with a rich diversity of plants and animals. Here is how he would operate:

He would start his day using a smart tractor, the kind already made by john Deere. As he plows his filed, the tractor takes real-time measurements of the moisture and nutrient content of each square meter and automatically inserts only the exact amount of fertilizer needed to produce the yield he seeks, taht way there is no fertilizer left over to wash into his river and harm the aquatic life there and downstream. Less nitrogen fertilizer also means fewer emissions of nitrogen oxide-a potent greenhouse gas. Thanks to this technology, he is taking advantage all the time of the most productive parts of his land for farming, so he has less incentive to go into the rain forest or to denude the riverbanks of trees just to plant a few more acres of crops. In fact, he and his neighbors have worked with a local conservation NGO to zone their farms so that the most productive areas are farmed, and other areas are set aside and restored to their native vegetation, which protects the streams and allows wildlife to migrate across a much larger area of natural habitat. That smart tractor, by the way, is a plug-in electric hybrid, with a backup motor thjat runs on biofuel made from switchgrass planted in Brazil on degraded lands that were specifically set aside as part of a national plan to protect the Amazon from biofuel encroachment. All the information amassed about the amount of fertilizaer that went into every square meter of his land, and the yield it ultimately produced, is captured on the onboard computer so he can make smarter decisions next year and increase his yield, even as he reduces his inputs. The sprinkler system is also a smart system and adds only the precise amount of water per square meter that is needed. The crop itself has been engineered to grow with the least amount of fertilizer and the least amount of water and fewest pesticides, so it is much stronger and produces a higher yield than non-bioengineered crops. It has also been engineered to be more nutritious, so people get healthier and healthier from less and less foodIn addition, because he is using fewer and cleaner fertilizers, the impact on the local river is tiny, so the water can be recylced with less energy and fewer chemicals. Also, by not cultivating the banks of the river and by maintaining the trees, he is preserving from erosion his most valuable asset – the arable land that produces his crops – and providing through the roots of trees and wetlands a natural water filter, which keeps sediment out of the river and prevents degradation of the wetlands downstream. Because the rover is healthy, he can enjoy fishing it or swimming in it much more, but he can also license others to come and fish for peacock bass on it each summer, making another nice little side income. On the part of his land that abuts the tropical forest, he has built a small ecolodge, which draws all its electricity from a one-megawatt wind turbine and attracts hundreds of ecotourists each year “.

Friedman, TL. (2009: 243-244) Hot, Flat, & Crowded, Release 2.0,

 

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Today’s Advice: Consider using rechargeable batteries.

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The manufacture of a battery uses 50 times as much energy as the battery itself will produce during its life. The only exception is rechargeable batteries. A personal stereo battery lasts 6 days; if you use a rechargeable battery, it can last up to 4 years. Like disposable batteries, some rechargeable ones contain cadmium, but since they can be recharged between 400 and 1,000 times, their impact on the environment is considerably reduced (if they are properly disposed of at the end of their life).

The best alternative for most portable electronics is nickel-metal hydride (NiMH), as these batteries are rechargeable and contain no cadmium. The upfront expense of these and their charger is soon recovered: Their lifetime cost is 3% of the comparable amount of disposable battery power.

-Abrams, “365 Ways To Save The Earth”, 2008

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How can Recycling Mobile Phones save our Planet?

I want to tell you all something, if each and everybody in the world buys and uses at least 2 mobile phones every year or a year and a half (This is approximately the number of phones that individuals purchase since the last couple of years with new technologies releasing every 6 months) and if you multiply that number with 4 billion (lets say that approximately 4,000,000,000 people use mobile phones on the planet, most probably more I have not checked the statistics), so ( 2 * 4,000,000,000 = 8,000,000,000) YES that is correct, approximately 8 BILLION mobile phones are being used every year and then those are exchanged with other 8 BILLION mobile phones every year or 2 years.

Have you ever thought about the amount of natural resources that are being used to manufacture billions of mobiles every year. Did you know that the following materials are being used in huge amounts to manufacture mobiles:

nickel (a type of Metal)

cadmium (Another type of Metal)

cobalt

gold

silver

copper

plastics and other metals

These are considered crucial materials that are used in most products and the fact that it is being over excessively used for manufacturing billions of mobiles every year and that also which are being exchanged frequently is a matter which mobile manufacturing companies must be taking seriously and try to find alternative solutions to this problem which is slowly threatening our planet without us noticing.

Furthermore, ever thought of the dangers that mobile phones can bring to our planet once disposed. As I mentioned earlier that mobile phones contain a number  of materials, however those materials can be very harmful as well. These substances can have a devastating impact if they are released into the environment. Also the problems get worse  if the handsets end up in landfill sites or if they are dumped illegally because this could lead to toxic substances seeping into the soil and groundwater.

To conclude, the only solution to this issue is the need to Recycle, every single country must have an initiative to recycle mobile phones, mobile manufacturing companies must too play a role in this initiative.

Unfortunately most countries around the world do not have mobile phone recycling activities and this is something which must be considered urgently before it is too late.

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Protect Rain Forests via Ecosia.org

Protecting Rainforests has become the responsibility of each and every individial, organization and country due to excessive deforestation. According to a 2007 study done by the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF), Almost 60% of the region’s forests could be wiped out or severely damaged by 2030, as a result of climate change and deforestation.

Please just look at the picture below and tell me that you can imagine our planet without such beautiful rainforests, I cannot that is for sure.

All people have the tendency and desire to contribute to the environment , to help by any means possible to protect the environment from being destroyed. Some go all the way by climbing mountains such as the Himalayas and mount everest for the purpose of raising donations, others go walking or cycling from one city/country to another and some like jogging for miles. However, most of us like to follow the most convenient means of contribution such as handing out donations to a specific individual or organization which take environmental action accordingly.

But even though the above mentioned activities are acts of honor and shows how deeply responsible some people are and to what extent they are willing to go just to help save their environment, other people might not be willing to go that far but deep inside their hearts they understand the sense of reponsibility towards protecting the environment and will be willing to contribute in any way possible.

This is where www.Ecosia.Org comes into picture, a search engine dedicated to environmental sustainability by donating revenues to the world’s most effective rainforest protection programs. What it does is that it lets searching the web double as an ecological contribution.

As shown in the image above, the search engine works like google where you could search for various information (web, images, maps, news and videos).

In other words, by using Ecosia.org as your day to day search engine instead of google, you are thus helping protect RainForests, what more can you ask for :D. So then everybody, please don’t let this opportunity go out of your hands and try to make use of it. Ecosia.org is built for a great purpose, let us all be part of it and support it.

🙂

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PC Refurbishment Center in Dubai

Sometimes even if you are a citizen of your own country/city you still don’t tend to have or acquire enough knowledge about the latest happenings, not even that of your own neighborhood. Sine the last couple of years I’ve been eagerly trying to find a place where I could give away all my old PC’s and laptops, either for recycling or donation.

After all these years I finally discover that there actually exists PC Refurbishment centers in Dubai (United Arab emirates) initiated by the Dubai Municipality for the purpose of protecting the environment and at the same time encouraging individuals, institutions and the public to donate second-hand, damaged or discarded computers to the center. These donations will then be distributed to people in need and to Public schools in the UAE.

I’ll finally be able to get rid of all those computers and laptops that has taken so much space in my cupboards and also throw away all the cardboard boxes for those laptops and PCs for recycling. 😀

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Why Buy Bottled Water?

One of the good habbits we are maintaining at home is using filtered Tap Water for drinking water. We even stopped using Water gallons for drinking water which we were utlizing for almost 5 to 6 years until my mom finally decided to use filtered tap water. It was such a releive to finally avoid seing all those empty Water gallons lying around in our kitchen which basically did not benefit us nor the environemt once the water inside it was over.

Speaking of Filtered tap water, I was wondering why do people go all the way buying boxes of bottled water (small and big) day after day to satisfy their thirst, instead why not use the same bottle day after day by washing the bottle and filling it with water and use the same bottle for a month and then maybe change it.

According to AllAboutWater.org, it is interesting to know how the excessive production of water bottles to satisfy consumers have the following environmental effects:

  • A 2001 report of the World Wide Fund for nature (WWF) indicates that roughly 1.5 million tons of plastic are spent in the bottling of 89 billion liters of water each year.
  • The energy required to manufacture and transport these bottles to market severely consumers limited fossil fuels.

So then why buy bottled water?

 

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