Saturday, June 30, 2012

Second Stakeholders’ meeting in Gurgaon – Participation of women representatives from the intervention villages

Recently, on 22nd June, Gurgaon team organized the second stakeholders’ meeting. The meeting was attended by 8 members from Sultanpur village, including two women representatives, and 4 members from Jhanjhrola Khera. PHED was represented by 1 Sub-divisional Engineer (SDE), 2 Junior Engineers and 2 staff from admin. One of the highlights of the meeting was participation by women representatives from villages. In order to mobilise women representatives from Jhanjhrola Khera and Sultanpur, team members from Gurgaon visited both the villages. In Sultanpur, team members could interact with couple of women Panchs from the village. They were told about the rationale behind organizing the stakeholders’ meeting. They agreed to come to the meeting and also assured that another woman Panch would also come on the day of the meeting. The team members then moved to Jhanjhrola Khera in order to interact with women representatives from the village. In Jhanjhrola Khera, team members spoke to couple of women Panchs and were ensure their participation on the day of the workshop. There were indications that another woman Panch from Jhanjhrola Khera would also come.

On the day of the workshop, a vehicle had been arranged to get women from the village and then drop them back after the meeting. Surprisingly, none of the women Panchs from Jhanjhrola Khera agreed to come for the meeting. One of them said that she had to go to a doctor, whereas the other one simply did not want to travel such a long distance and come to Gurgaon! Eventually, on the day of the meeting, two women Panchs from Sultanpur village came for the meeting. One of the women, amongst the two, belonged to a low caste, but she was able to put forward her points during the meeting. She raised the issue that in Sultanpur village, there was no water connections or pipes beyond the railway line, which was making it difficult for women in this section of village to access water. By the end of the meeting, PHED officials had agreed to survey this particular area and if satisfied with the water quality would arrange for setting a tubewell. The team considers this as an achievement, as women representatives generally do not have any say, even during Panchayat meetings, when they are represented by their male counterparts. However, during the second stakeholders’ meeting they were provided a platform to voice their opinion and by the end of the meeting, the team felt that they could actively do so. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Understanding Peri urbanization process in Guwahati and Patna

Peri urbanization is one of the most complex processes often fuelled by land acquisition and nurtured by unplanned urban growth.  The consequence of this process has not only being manifested in the intensification of city’s fringe areas but has a whole lot of environmental, social and political repercussions. In fact the understanding of the basic term ‘peri urban’ has changed from rural fringe areas that surround the cities to a zone of co-existence of both rural and urban characteristics and the linkages and flows between them. Some scholars argue that peri-urban is better understood as a process, rather than a place. This makes the very understanding of peri urbanization process complex and thus requiring considerable probing. With this intend in mind SaciWATERs has undertaken a field study of two  cities namely Patna and Guwahati to assess the degree and extent of peri-urbanization process.

Guwahati to lose her pristine ecology at the wake of rapid peri urbanization
Guwahati always has a rich natural resource base of forests, hills and natural wetlands. Interestingly, for the past 10 years, the city has experienced deranged growth leading to drastic change in its land use and land cover. In a span of two years (2010-2012) metropolitan area of the city expanded from 262sq km to about 318.72 sq km engulfing vast stretch of rural hinterland. Travelling in the outskirts along transit corridors of NH31 and 37 clearly shows fast developing peri urban landscapes consisting of an intense mixture of agriculture, industry, commercial and residential use. Vast agricultural land and several water bodies have been filled to give place to high rise apartments.  Disappearing wetlands, decreasing forest cover and declining cultivable area has not only disrupted the natural ecosystem but also displaced many of the aboriginal tribes like Kargies, Boros, Garos generally occupying these fringe areas. Peri urbanization has also affected the agricultural practices in these fringe villages. Traditional paddy variety got replaced by hybrid one, ground water irrigation became rampant, cropping pattern moved from food crops to cash crops.
Intensive rock cutting has increased soil erosion
 and loss of bio diversity
Discussions with policy makers, researchers, academicians and civil society organizations have time and again surfaced the issue of ecosystem disruption due to unplanned city growth. They all agreed to the fact that peri urbanization has caused the city to lose a considerable amount of its land of high ecological value. Invasion of city’s space into the rural hinterland has disrupted the micro ecosystem of forest, wetlands and hilly landscape. Encroachment into the forest area for either residential or commercial purposes has increased soil erosion. Mr. Semata Kalita of Center for Environment and Education spoke about the problem of hill cutting, soil erosion, siltation and associated urban flooding. To him siltations of the open drains mostly due flash floods from the surrounding hills have increased the frequency and duration of urban flooding over the years.   Besides, thinning down of forest cover has promoted illegal poaching and selling of woods to the Meghalaya border. Hill cutting for construction of hotels or institutes has forced the animals to intrude into the human habitation. In fact frequent attacks of elephants and panthers have been reported for last two years.
Degrading Deepar Beel
Deepar beel which is one of the protected sites under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, 1971, is an important case in point here. A majority of the biological wealth of the beel is in a state of gradual depletion due to the increased impact of human interference.  Map 3 shows the areal extent of Deeper beel in 2010. The area in and around the beel has been heavily encroached upon for the last couple of years. In fact, The Institute of advance study in Science and Technology in situated right on the southern part of the beel. The beel is suffering from environmental degradation mainly because of encroachment and waste dumping. With the fast expanding city build up spaces, it has become easy dumping ground of the solid waste. In fact the one of the dumping site of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) is Paschim Boragaon Garchuk, which is closer to the beel. The site now faces various natural and anthropogenic threats, primarily from the development of road network, industries within the periphery of the site, illegal hunting of wild animals and deforestation. Deeper beel or any of these water bodies which manages to exist against the speeding peri urbanization have become lifeless pond, cutoff from the natural sources of streams or interlinking drainages. A study done by a local NGO called Environ, on the importance of Deepor Beel onto the life of four fringe villages, shows severity of the  destruction and its associated stress on the life of the people directly or indirectly depending on it.
City Experiencing rapid urban growth: The tale of Patna

Patna, like any other 35 million plus cities in India is undergoing dramatic changes in physical, social and cultural spaces.  The total Urban Agglomeration population is about 1,707,429, in addition daily commuters and floating population, like, tourists etc is estimated to be around 2 lakhs (Poverty Pockets Assessment Study 2009). Such whooping population along with unplanned urbanization has left to city to struggle with several ecological, social and cultural stresses. In absence of any revised master plan the city started showing the signs of decay both within and along its fringes. Based on key person interviews and visual assessment of the selected peri-urban sites the report attempts to throw light on critical ecological, social, health and governance issue associated with peri urbanization process of patna.  Attempts have been made to capture initiatives undertaken by stakeholders in addressing some of the grueling issues of peri urban Patna
Over the last 5-6 years Patna has gone multiple transformations—physical, morphological, socio-demographic, cultural, economic and functional in its peri urban interface. It became a space constituting of underprivileged settlers (migration to the cities by the rural poor and the resettlement of slum dwellers from the city after the demolition of their homes) coexisting with urban affluent. This has resulted into diverse and conflicting stakes, culminating into several environmental and socio economic hazards. Wetlands encroached by buildings, random dumping of solid waste, illegal constructions of industries and degraded environment  is a common scene all along  National Highway 30 (NH-30) that  connects PUA to its hinterland. Following section attempts to highlight several environment, health and governance related issues involved with peri urban Patna.
Heaps of Garbage is found everywhere 
in and around the city’s periphery
Patna city is struggling with managing its solid waste. Talking with both academicians and civil society organizations revealed that solid waste management  is among the most poorly rendered services here – the systems applied are unscientific, out dated and inefficient; and population coverage is extremely low. There is no specified landfill site and the wastes are dumped in the low-lying areas along the periphery.  Situation is all the more worse in the fringe areas coming outside the ambit of the Patna Municipal Corporation. Heaps of untreated wastes all along the bypass have become the root cause for several physical and health hazards. Problem not only lies in dumping the waste, but also the mode of transport use and the time of dumping. Mostly uncovered vehicle is used to transport the waste, resulting into frequent droppings. Besides, there is no fixed time for dumping.   During rainy season such heaps of environmentally hazardous waste becomes the source of critical water borne diseases. There is no practice of storing the waste at source in a scientifically segregated way. Citizens have not been educated to keep domestic, trade, and institutional bins for storage of waste at source and stop littering on the streets. Problem of solid waste management is crucial for Patna, yet very few NGOs are actually working towards this. Officials from Patna Urban Development Authority informed about the efforts undertaken in systematic management of the wastes. Current year under Urban Infrastructure and Governance Scheme (UIG) Ramky Environ Engg Ltd and A to Z are entrusted to execute Municipal solid waste management for Patna and Integrated SWM in Patna urban agglomerations. As a part of these schemes a landfill site has been identified in the outskirts of city in Khagol.
Discussion with the farmers in 
Maner about the arsenic pollution
Ground water is the main source in Patna and its fringes. Over the last 10 years groundwater extraction has increased particularly in the outskirts in order to cater to the ever mounting demand of newly established commercial, residential and up market colonies. Discussion with the stakeholders pointed out that Patna is still not facing shortage in the supply of water per se, as the city manages to exploit its rich ground water reserve.  However, researchers and academicians working intensively with groundwater have a different opinion to share. Dr. Ashok Ghosh of A.N College, Patna mentioned that the way ground water usage is increasing, very soon the whole Patna will be transformed from water rich to water scare city. Discussions with Dr. Ghosh further revealed that the immediate problem associated with groundwater is of arsenic. He reportedly mentioned that most of the shallow aquifer of the Patna Peri Urban Areas of Danapur, Maner etc are heavily affected by arsenic. Shallow tube/bore wells, which are predominant in these fringe areas, are thus more susceptible to arsenic pollution. Discussion with the villagers in Maner block of Patna made it very evident that people are not aware of this grave problem.  There is lack of efforts both from Government and NGO site in terms of addressing this issue effectively and urgently.
Like poor drainage condition, sanitation, in terms of construction of toilets, improved hygiene practices is extremely poor in Patna more so in peri urban area. Majority of the squatter settlements lack public laboratories, leaving no option but to opt for open defecation. Initiatives undertaken in Total Sanitation campaign has failed to generate desired results. Civil society activities complained about the corruption and nexus among Government and service providers for poor performance.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Experience Sharing Meeting on Community Based Solid Waste Managemen


An experience sharing meeting was held at the SPS (local NGO) meeting room on May 23, 2012. Civil society group and ward commissioner (16) was present at the sharing meeting to discuss about the issue of community based solid waste management at KCC.  10 years back SPS (a local NGO) started their activity on house to house solid waste collection and its safe disposal with support from a National NGO, Prism-Bangladesh. In the beginning, community people disagreed to pay for house to house solid waste collection, but later on community people were motivated to pay 10 taka per month. Now SPS has covered 3-wards in KCC (ward no. 9, 14 and 16). Figure 1 shows household solid waste is collecting through a plastic container and transferring waste to the van at ward no. 16 of KCC area. From the last few years (5-7 years), SPS has been suffering from financial crisis as donor support is stopped after completing of the project period in 2005. Now peri-urabn project is supporting the organization for developing a sustainable community based solid waste management system at Chhoto Boira for saving the river Moyur from solid waste pollution by the community households.  

 Figure 1: House to house solid waste collection system developed by a local NGO SPS at ward no. 16 of the KCC area.

IWFM has been working in Khulna on peri-urban water security issue, financially supported by the IDRC, from the year 2010; and found that solid waste is one of the main sources of water pollution in Khulna. The river Moyur is only the freshwater river in Khulna which is shared by both the urban and peri-urban residents. However, this river is almost dead due to solid and liquid waste dumping from the KCC. Ecological services of this river have largely reduced due to pollution and encroachment. As a part of our peri-urban research project, we realized the importance of this river in Khulna and discussed the matter through a multi-stakeholder platform (KDA, KCC, WASA, DoE, NGOs, Civil Society groups, KU and KUET) to save the Moyur. The entire stakeholders conveyed that they have been debating since long to save the river but their attempts failed to save the river Moyur. Thus, as a part of action research project, IWFM, KU and ILS have decided to develop a community based solid waste management system at Chhoto Boira which could reduce solid waste dumping into the Moyur. Figure 2 shows a community sharing workshop has been conducted by ILS and SPS in Khulna. Based on the result, this activity will be replicated in other part of the Moyur for saving the river from pollution and degradation. 

 Figure 2: Dr. Hamidul Huq of ILS is conduction an experience sharing workshop on community participation in solid waste management in KCC, Khulna.  (Phot: Mr. Nuruddin Md. Idris)

Stakeholders’ Opinion

Executive Director of SPS, Mr. Alamgir Islam Lavlu said “we are now prepared to start our preliminary activity of waste collection and composting at Chhoto Boira peri-urban site with support from peri-urban project. We already have a van and two people to run the activity. From 1st  June it will be started”. Community people said that KCC does not clean KCC’s drain on regular basis. Moreover, most of the residential housing developed by the KDA is not linked with the main drainage system KCC. Earthen drainage is filled up by solid waste dumping and sometime blocked by huge waste from informal tea stall and shops. Mr. Sazu has been living at Boikali area of KCC from more than ten years. He said people’s awareness is very low. Thus, community based group meeting and awareness program should be taken at each Mohollah’s of the city. Mr. Sazu also said that he will arrange venue at his house, if such program is arranged by the SPS. Mr. Lavlu said that they already covered 1600 households under their service and it will be increased if community people support them to run the minimum project cost. Mr. Lavlu said earlier that he started composting from organic solid waste but failed to sell compost fertilizer. He said they still have tons of organic fertilizer but could not sell it due absence of it buyer. Stakeholders of the meeting said that farmers always obey the agriculture officer. So, if we can motivate the agriculture officers to motivate the farmers for using compost, it would be easy to develop a market chain. In Khulna there are 17 NGOs who started their activities of community based solid waste management. But now only 4-5 NGOs are doing this job. Management of a community based solid waste project is becoming hard due to increase in cost for maintenance. A local ward commissioner Mrs. Memory Sufiya Rahman Sunnu said that it is impossible for KCC to serve the house to house collection system. But he told that they are developing communal dumping sites or first delivery point in the KCC. He hopes to serve better for the KCC people. He is of a opinion that it will be better if NGOs or Private agency take the lead role where KCC can support in different mode of action.

Figure 3: Newly developed composting plant at Chhoto Boira by a local NGO SPS with support from the IDRC supported peri-urban water security project.

Stakeholders of the meeting said that SPS is playing very good role in managing environment of the KCC but it was suggested that the program should include drainage cleaning service which will reduce mosquito and water logging problem in the KCC. The present tariff of solid waste collection has been fixed at Taka 30 per month from June 2012. The leader of the SPS Mr. Lavlu said that he is trying to develop a community based tariff collection system forming a small committee in each ward. In the coming days, drain cleaning program on a regular schedule will be taken with discussion with the community leader. 


Community based solid waste management would be a popular program in Khulna which could save the rivers and natural water bodies from pollution and degradation. Besides, solid waste management is also important for saving public health and clean environment in the cities. Development of a sustainable community based solid waste management system is thus very challenging.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

River Source Conservation Awareness Campaign

The peri-urban project team of Kathmandu, Nepal organized a “River Source Conservation Awareness Campaign” in coordination with Lubhu Drinking Water and Sanitation Users Committee on 5th May, 2012. The main objective of the programme was to aware the local people of upstream reach i.e., Lamatar VDC residing along the Dovan river to not to pollute the river as the river is the source of drinking water to the downstream Lubhu residents.

The primary source of drinking water to the Lubhu residents has been Chapakharka source. The water demand in the village has been increasing while the water supply from this source has been decreasing, thus people of Lubhu developed Dovan Water Supply Scheme as an alternative source of water. But due to the poor quality of this water, people have been using this water for domestic uses other than drinking purposes. Considering the decreasing water availability from Chapakharka scheme and poor quality of water  of Dovan River, Lubhu Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Committee has envisioned the construction of filtration tank to make it drinkable. Recently, they organized the formal laying down of the foundation stone for the construction of filtration tank in the presence of Finance Minister as the Chief Guest of the function. Considering the circumstances, the awareness campaign programme was organized to aware the upstream Lamatar VDC residents as well as dwellers of Lubhu VDC nearby river to not to dump the household garbage and waste in the river. 

Around 400 people from different organizations, youth groups, religious groups, sports club, students, intellectual persons, political leaders, social workers and local people came together in the rally for the common concern: Dovan river source conservation. The procession started from Lubhu VDC office premises and made its way along the main road of Lubhu-Lamatar VDC reaching upto Shuvatara School of Lamatar VDC and returned back following another road alongside of the river. The main motive behind following both the tracks along the river was to draw attention of the Lamatar residents to the immediate need of Dovan source conservation and circulate its linkage to the daily water needs of Lubhu residents in the downstream.  The participants in the rally holded placards with different slogans for alerting on river and water conservation and the participating organizations displayed the banners of concerned organization expressing their commitments towards the social movement. The slogans were generated by the local people raising their views and values for the need and means of river conservation. Few slogans raised during the rally were:
  •          Let the river flow naturally,
  •          Let’s keep the river flowing,
  •          Keep the river clean,
  •          Manage the households waste at household level,
  •          Don’t throw the garbage and waste in the river,
  •          Keep the river clean, you will get healthy water,
  •          Water, Forest and Air is as important as eye for living beings. 

Reciting the slogans and awaring the people, the participants in the rally also removed and disposed the massive garbage dumped in the river at two intake points. After cleaning the intake points, the procession assembled for mass meeting at public open space nearby the intake point in Lamatar VDC. Addressing the mass, the chairperson of the Lubhu Water Supply and Sanitation Committee appealed Lamatar residents for not polluting the river and threw light on water supply and sanitation programme that has been recently launched. He further concentrated on negative impacts of river degradation and committed to oversee the river health regularly to maintain the river ecology.