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Water conservation: Lessons India can learn from California and St Kitts

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By Gaurav Sharma

With an exploding population, more water is being used up in agricultural activities than ever before. The rapid industrialization means that water is not being used just for drinking but for myriads of other purposes too.

Revered rivers such as Ganga and Yamuna have become dumping grounds for industrial effluents and human discharge. The utter apathy with which we have treated the water bodies of the country has reduced them from the pedestal of divinity to a specter of deplorable isolation.

According to a report published by BAIF Development Research Foundation, “Most of the Indian states will reach the water stress condition by 2020 and water scarcity condition by 2025.”

The UN report on Water Conservation also presents a dark picture. The study says that 65% of rainwater goes into the sea due to lack of proper conservation techniques.  Also, 90 % of waste water discharged in rivers fails to meet environmental norms.

What can California and St Kitts tell us?

Here, much can be learnt by the initiatives undertaken by other countries when it comes to preserving the most precious resource of mankind. The Caribbean nation of St Kitts has introduced some novel water conservation measures. These include highlighting consumer responsibilities such as respecting signage and rules established by the Water services department, reporting incidents of misuse and abuse of water, creating awareness of reusing water, propagating use of water saving devices among other things.

Such simple measures can be easily adopted in India. Beside the enforcement of clear-cut rules and regulations, people should be made more aware of the need to conserve water. The dire situation in which we find ourselves should be brought to light in no uncertain terms.

In California, every city and district with more than 3000 connections has been given a mandatory water conservation target ranging from 8 to 36 per cent, based on per capita use for the previous year.

Moreover, by rewarding communities that preserve water and burdening through fines those who consume water disproportionately, the government has been more proactive, not only in forcing people to adhere to water laws, but in transforming their outlook towards water as a precious natural resource.

Why water matters


 

 

 

 

Next Story

Cambodia’s Government To Shut Down A Chinese-Owned Hotel, Suspect To Water Pollution

Overhead footage shot with a drone camera clearly shows a large stream of discolored water snaking through the beach behind the resort and spilling into the sea.

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A screen grab from a video shows an aerial view of what appears to be sewage streaming out of the Sunshine Bay Hotel and Casino on Koh Rong Samloem Island. RFA

An environmental watchdog on Thursday called on Cambodia’s government to shut down a Chinese-owned hotel and casino for pouring raw sewage into the sea off of the coast of the popular resort town of Sihanoukville, following the closure of another on the same island last month.

In a video posted to Facebook, Mother Nature activist Meng Heng said the Sunshine Bay Hotel and Casino is severely polluting the water off of the southern tip of Koh Rong Samloem Island’s Independence beach.

Overhead footage shot with a drone camera clearly shows a large stream of discolored water snaking through the beach behind the resort and spilling into the sea.

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“If we find out they are violating the laws [against polluting the environment], we will ask them to correct the situation,” Pixabay

He noted that the sea near the hotel and casino has “an unusual odor and color to it,” adding that as one approaches the perimeter of the property “we will be left in no doubt as to why this part of the beach receives no tourists.”

While Meng Heng acknowledged that it was impossible to tell whether all of the pollution comes solely from the hotel, it is clear that “large amounts of sewage are being dumped onto this part of the beach on a daily basis.”

In mid-March, officials ordered another Chinese-run facility of Koh Rong Samloem—the Jin Ding Hotel and Casino—to shut down, citing multiple violations by the casino of the law, the playing of loud music on the beach, and the promotion of illegal online betting games.

The closure followed accusations that the resort was ruining the beauty of a local beach by pouring raw sewage into the sea, prompting complaints by area residents and inspections by authorities.

At the time, Leang Sopheary—a youth volunteer who visited the island in February and posted photos of the polluted water on social media—called on authorities to examine larger areas of beachfront now also under threat.

Another environmental activist, Thorn Ratha, called for a “serious punishment” for the Jin Ding’s owner, as well as an investigation into any government official “who might have been involved” in turning a blind eye to the violations.

Call for closure

In Thursday’s video, Meng Heng noted that on March 26, Minister for Urban Planning Chea Sophara had said in a statement posted to his Facebook account that in the aftermath of the Jin Ding’s closure “Sihanoukville no longer has any dirty water entering its beaches and sea,” but the activist questioned whether the minister had actually sent anyone to inspect the area before making such claims.

He urged Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government to act against the ongoing problem of pollution in the area, starting with the Sunshine Bay Hotel and Casino.

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He said authorities are targeting serious polluters first, and that they will issue warnings to any buildings found in breach of the city’s regulations before punishing them for continued violations. Pixabay

“Will Hun Sen’s regime dare to also shut down another Chinese business, the massive Sunshine Bay Hotel and Casino, if it finds that it is also spewing raw sewage onto the sea, in much larger quantities than the one in Koh Rong Samloem,” he asked.

On Thursday, Sihanoukville provincial spokesman Or Saroeun acknowledged to RFA’s Khmer Service that “sewage is a problem,” but said Sihanoukville city officials are “working to resolve the issue.”

He said authorities are targeting serious polluters first, and that they will issue warnings to any buildings found in breach of the city’s regulations before punishing them for continued violations.

“If we find out they are violating the laws [against polluting the environment], we will ask them to correct the situation,” he said.

Also Read: “We Got in Line And Handed Them The Money,”Cambodian Migrants Heading Home for the Holidays

“We want investors to bring development, but we don’t want them to harm the environment.”

Chinese investment has flowed into Sihanoukville in recent years, but Cambodians regularly chafe at what they say are unscrupulous business practices and unbecoming behavior by Chinese residents. (RFA)