Wednesday, March 25, 2009

City sanitation in the pits

City sanitation in the pits
Even as residential layouts are developing thick and fast, the sanitation infrastructure in the city is at a standstill. Of the 147 wards under the BBMP, 47 wards that were part of the erstwhile City Municipal Council still do not have underground drainage systems (UGD). Residents in these areas are having to be content with digging temporary pits next to their houses, which serve as septic tanks.

“Five-feet-deep sewage pits are usually built in two hours and covered with a slab. Mosquito menace is severe and chances of groundwater contamination is high,” says Sanjeev, who has been residing in Thalakkaveri Layout in Basavanagar near Marathalli for the last two years.

Even in areas that have UGD, sewage lines are not linked to the Sewage Treatment Plants(ST Ps). According to M Lakshman, Senior Environment Officer at the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB), 80 per cent of the sewage problems in the city can be solved if the inter-linking of UGDs to ST Ps are done efficiently. Currently only 30 per cent of the city’s sewerage is treated in the 14 STPs, which have a collective capacity of 718 MLD.

“The capacity of K&C valley in Challaghatta, Varthur - which comprises three ST Ps - is 248 Million Litres per Day (MLD), but only 55 MLD of sewerage is treated here. Fourteen sewerage lines in the area makes their way into the Bellandur Lake instead. Storm water drains are also polluted this way. Linking UGDs is a complex process and has to be prioritised. More ST Ps will also have to be built,” says Lakshman. Three cases logded by KSPCB against Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board for polluting lakes has been pending for two years.

BWSS B’s project under World Bank and JNNURM to construct and interlink UGDs is still in an infant stage

Hebbagodi still in troubled waters

Hebbagodi still in troubled waters
After an apparently successful battle for drinking water, it is paucity of funds that now crushes the hopes of Hebbagodi village.

While the Urban Development Department in November 2008 had directed the corporate Biocon -- alleged to be responsible for water pollution here -- to pay the monthly water bills of Hebbagodi and adjoining villages, the infrastructure for Cauvery water supply was to be first developed by the local bodies. The construction of water supply lines was to start on March 2, but fund crunch and restrictions paused by the code of conduct for the upcoming elections has caused work to be stalled for at least two months.

“Infrastructure development in Hebbagodi is estimated to cost Rs 2.7 crores.

District, taluk and village panchayats are supposed to bear the cost,” said Sadashiva Reddy, President of Hebbagodi Residents Association.

Of the 14 villages affected by pollution, Hebbagodi’s suffers most, says Reddy. The 185 borewells in the village are left unused as the water was found to cause skin diseases, diarrhoea, fever and vomiting. A water sample analysis jointly held by the Zilla Panchayat and the Mines and Geology Department in 2007 had shown that Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), an indicator of organic pollutants in water, was as high as 115 mg/litre, while the permissible limit is 20 mg/litre.

Biocon was set up in 1978, but it constructed an Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) in 2005 only. “The water and air pollution became noticeable in the late- 90s when the company started largescale manufacture of biopharmaceuticals,” said Sadashiva Reddy.

“Biocon does not release effluents now, but the effluents released before the setting up of ETP had caused contamination.

Also Cauvery water was supplied only to the industries and not villages. This violates the National Water Policy, which prioritises provision of drinking water over industrial supply,” said a senior official of Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB).

Though many residents in Hebbagodi purchase mineral water now, government schools and health centres cannot afford this, affecting children the most. Muniratna, mother of three kids, said, “I have been purchasing water for Rs 30 per can everyday for the last four years, yet my kids suffer from recurring fever. Treatment is ineffective and doctors have only recommended change of water. The private water supply costs as much as Rs 50 per can sometimes and many cannot afford it.” “I receive at least two cases of pollution- related ailments everyday. But we have facilities to provide primary care only,” said Dr Balaguruva Reddy, who runs a health centre in the village. But villagers hardly care for financial compensation.

“It’s only water we need,” said Reddy.

Biocon’s response “Biocon is a zero discharge facility and has taken steps to upgrade the ETP in consultation with KSPCB. The hardness of ground water in Hebbagodi could be due to depleting ground water resources.

Sewage from the increasing population and industrial effluents must be treated to prevent contamination.”

When profits pinch water

The Hindu News Update Service
If water companies find India as a whole is enticing, Bangalore must look like manna from heaven, write Kshithij Urs and Richard Whittell in ‘Resisting Reform? Water Profits and Democracy’ (www.sagepublications.com). “A well-entrenched multinational corporate lobby, enriched by and perpetuating the vision of Bangalore as a ‘world-class’ corporate city, a system of governance dominated by unelected and unaccountable parastatal bodies, and a substantial middle class, all combine to provide the backing for private involvement and profit potential,” they observe.

In Bangalore, as elsewhere around the world, there has been an effort to create the right ideological climate for privatisation, the authors find. Starting by blaming the inefficiency and failure of the government in providing water to people at large, the ‘reformed’ way of thinking advocates that water should be seen as a commodity and that efficiency should determine its provision.

“Seeing water as a commodity practically means that it should be sold in quantifiable units. In this sense, the buyers of water pay according to their consumption… The oft-heard mantra in debates is that water supply costs money, suggesting that those who are against these ‘reforms’ are either na├»ve or have not grasped basic economics.”

While conceding that it does cost money to supply water, Urs and Whittell caution that putting the stress on recovering costs directly from all ‘consumers’ can easily lead to inequities in the supply, especially where many people cannot afford to pay the amount it costs the service. “The supply will become unavoidably geared towards supplying to those who can pay.”

A book with important insights to tap into.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Summer woes: Water crisis looms large in Bangalore

Mangalorean.Com- Serving Mangaloreans Around The World!
With the onset of summer in Bangalore, the residents of the city are likely to face severe water shortage in the coming days. With increase in the number of water connections from 2.2 lakh in 2002-03 to 5.64 lakh in 2008-09, the drinking water crisis looms large in Bangalore in this summer.

According to official sources in the State secretariat, increase in the number of water connections, stagnation in the quantum of water supply and frequent power failures are the major factors for the drinking water shortage in Bangalore City.

The Minister for Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Katta Subramanya Naidu who held a meeting with officials of the Board on Friday said the water supply to the city, which has population of 80 lakh, remained stagnant since 2002-03. As many as 895 million litres a day of water was being supplied to the city now against the demand for 1200 MLD. Though the water supply remained at 985 MLD a day since 2002-03, he said.

Bangalore has been receiving water mainly from the Cauvery river sources and to a some extent from Hesaraghatta and Thippagondanahalli reservoirs on the Arkavathy. The city draws 30 MLD from T.G. Halli reservoir, 135 MLD each from Cauvery I and II Stages, 270 MLD each from III and IV stages of Cauvery, and rest 25 MLD from the Torekadinahalli plant.

Mr. Naidu has appealed to residents of the city to be ready to face summer heat and shortage in the supply of drinking water. The water supply has been affected doe to frequent power failures and interruptions. As many as 56 tankers had been supplying water the city round the clock. With the present supply of 895 MLD to the city, he said it was difficult to supply drinking water daily to all localities.

With water supply from reservoirs remained stagnant, the BWSSB has rejuvenated 3679 public borewells in the city. He appealed to the residents to judiciously use water and said work on 548 borewells was going on and would be commissioned soon.

The BWSSB has set up 46 boaster pumping stations in various locations of the city to ensure water during power failures. The Minister has appealed to the residents to utilise treated water for non-domestic purposes such as washing cars, gardens and construction of buildings. About 35 MLD treated water had been supplied to various locations of the city.

He alleged that previous governments were responsible for the present power and drinking water crisis in the IT capital of India.

Work on the Rs. 3,0000 crore 5th phase of the Cauvery Water Supply Scheme has been commenced. The completion of the scheme would enhance the volume of water by 500 MLD. The project would be completed in 2011, Mr. Naidu said.


E-metering: An end to BWSSB’s woes?

E-metering: An end to BWSSB’s woes?
The latest Machine to Machine (M2M) technology offers a solution to the water pilferage problem that is plaguing Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) ever since its inception.

Around 36 per cent of the 870 million litres of water supplied per day by the BWSSB is unaccounted, which means 313.2 MLD of water goes unaccounted every day and only 556.8 MLD legally reaches the public.

The minimum price for every kilolitre is Rs 6. Even if the minimum costs are calculated for the unaccounted water, BWSSB is losing Rs 18.79 lakh every day and around Rs 5.64 crore a month.

In its efforts to check water pilferage, BWSSB has constituted a Revenue Enforcement Cell. The Cell has so far traced water pilferage worth Rs 36 crore, but that is just the tip of an iceberg.

It is impossible to trace all cases if the present methods are adopted.

M2M technology, which has been developed by Connect-M, can also be called E-metering, and might just be the end for all BWSSB’s woes. If this technology is adopted, pre-programmed gadgets called Radio Frequency Modules (RFM) would be fitted to all the water meters, which can either be mechanical or digital. The RFMs regularly transmit the meter readings and other details to the Aggregators, which would be installed for every 100 meters. The Aggregators in turn will transmit this data to the servers, that can be placed in any specified location, through GPRS.

By sitting near the server one can easily trace how much water is being consumed in any particular house, area or a division and monthly bills can be sent without even manual reading of the meters.

The RFMs will also inform the server if the meter is not functioning properly.

Therefore, the water meters can be repaired immediately without any delay.

RFMs will 'inform' the server if an attempt is made to tamper or manipulate the wat e r meters or RFMs. The RFMs will function with the help of a durable battery.

Murali Ramalingam, CEO of Connect- M, admitted that the technology is priced on the higher side but comes down to nothing when compared to losses incurred by BWSSB. The same technology can be used to monitor the electricity pilferage also.

BWSSB Chief Engineer Venkat Raju said that there is a defect in the technology, which needs to be tested.

“When there is a power failure the aggregators cannot transmit data.” BWSSB intends to consider the system only after the firm installs the technology somewhere.


Power, water supply to be hit

Deccan Herald - Power, water supply to be hit in City today
To make things worse, water supply will be affected on Friday in parts of north and east Bangalore due to frequent power interruptions at Machilibet service station on Thursday...


It will be candles and hand-fans for many Bangaloreans on Friday and Saturday with little water to spare.

Several areas in Bangalore will go without power, with the Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited (BESCOM) carrying out maintenance work on most of its feeders.

To make things worse, water supply will be affected on Friday in parts of north and east Bangalore due to frequent power interruptions at Machilibet service station on Thursday.

If these are the issues of today, Minister for Excise and Water Resources, Katta Subramanya Naidu, made big promises, but for tomorrow. On Thursday, he talked about a scheme in the offing to ensure a problem-free supply of drinking water for the next 50 years in the city.

Here is the BESCOM work that will affect power supply: Commissioning of the bus coupler panels on Friday at the NRS station along with cable works on F-2 and F-10 feeders in Bangalore. Tushar Girinath, MD, BESCOM, said the maintenance works carried out by the company was in consultation with the Karnataka Power Transmission Company Limited.

“We are trying to ensure power supply in the long-term, free from shut downs, and I think it is a good decision,” he said.

Meanwhile, the water shortage problem is bound to get worse for residents in pockets of Sanjaynagar and Malleswaram in the north, besides Devarajeevanahalli, Pillana Garden, HBR Layout and HRBR Layout in the east.
“The quantity of water supplied will be reduced,” he said.

But, as another source put it, the problems would not be spread across Bangalore. “The City would not be affected in a big way, since there has been no power disruption at Somanahalli Central Grid, from where the main pumping stations of T K Halli, Tataguni and Harohalli draw power.”


Save lakes: lok adalat to civic agencies

Save lakes: lok adalat to civic agencies-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
Hearing the 1998 PIL on water supply to Bellandur, the high court lok adalat has directed civic authorities to identify all tanks and
lakes where sewage water is let out, and prepare a comprehensive project for rejuvenation of such water bodies. The tribunal has asked the BWSSB, BDA, BBMP and other agencies to coordinate in the implementation of the project. The tribunal has also suggested setting up of an expert committee.

The court rapped the pollution control board for not implementing its order of closure on six hospitals for failing to set up treatment plants.


Community will be crucial factor

Community will be crucial factor-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
Its election time....Civic affairs matters as this article points out....

In what was once Bangalore North, you didn't win because of a good road. In what is now Bangalore North too, it's the same.
From the Lok Sabha results from as far back as 1971, the minority community factor and the national presence and strength of a party made a difference then, wherein Congress had a dominant presence. And, it seems to be the case now too.

The minority community factor in earlier Bangalore North is evident from the fact that people voted differently in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections with LS elections seeing a victorious candidate from the minority community for the past 30 years.

In the new Bangalore North, it is a mix of minority community and caste factors. While minority population continues to be significant in the new Bangalore North, the addition of new areas has meant a solid presence of the Vokkaliga community. A minority candidate will have to woo Vokkaliga voters and a Vokkaliga candidate will have to woo minority voters here.

<snip> Click the link given above to read entire article.....

Civic factor

In terms of civic necessities that may crop up as issues in this election, the entire constituency is looking at three critical factors and one factor common with all of Bangalore: people would like better and regular water supply in many constituencies, particularly Byatarayanapura, Dasarahalli and Pulakeshinagar; motorable roads and better bus connections in and between these areas; easier availability of basic needs like oil, kerosene, gas and food commodities at PDS outlets. Regular electricity is also keenly awaited although every summer it is a problem all over Bangalore.

K R Puram, Yeshwantpur and Mahalakshmi layout are seeing a bit of infrastructure development in recent times though congestions could be eased in K R Puram. Malleswaram is by and large doing well.

WITH MAP

Assembly constituencies

K R Puram

Yeshwantpur

Dasarahalli

Malleswaram

Hebbal

Mahalakshmi Layout

Byatarayanapura

Pulakeshinagar

Voters: 21 lakh


Monday, March 9, 2009

Road work blocks sewage lines in Ashoknagar

Road work blocks sewage lines in Ashoknagar
Its more than six months now and residents of Victoria road in Ashok Nagar have no option but to leave in the stench and put up with the blocked sewage lines.

The road repair work on this stretch taken up by the civic agencies is not completed and due to this the sewage pipelines have been blocked with construction materials. With the blockage of pipeline, it is not only the stench that is causing a problem but also the back-flow of the sewage water is a concern.

John Mascarenhas, a senior citizen and resident of Victoria road has tried all possible ways to bring this to the notice of the officials concerned but there is no response. He says he is tired of repeatedly complaining to various agencies including -- Bangalore Water Supply and Sewarage Board (BWSSB) commissioner, Police Commissioner, Elders Helpline, Karnataka Human Rights Commission and Dignity foundation.

“There is no response from any of these officials and there seems to be no respite for us from this stench and mess we are living in,” he said.

The authorities are not bothered and this continues to be the attitude of the officials.

I will write to the Chief Minister and bring this to his notice, said John.

There is back-flow of sewage into houses and it is impossible to live in this stench. Even if we get private plumbers to get the pipeline clear, it is not possible as there is no outlet for the water to flow, he said.

Speaking to The New Indian Express a senior BWSSB official said: “We have not received such complaint so far but however, I will direct the officials concerned to look into this issue.”

Here BDA can’t match quality with quantity of sites

Here BDA can’t match quality with quantity of sites
BANGALORE: As many as 42,000 sites are to be developed in three new layouts in the city at a cost of Rs 3,828 crore. The government’s latest announcement to create more residential space sounds impressive but a tour of the layouts developed by the BDA in the last decade showed a severe lack of even basic facilities. Water is likely to be available only in 2011.

Even as BDA develops newly-added BBMP areas at Rs 623 crore, three of its most recently developed layouts have few tarred roads, no water and sanitary facilities.

In the last decade, BDA developed and allotted around 50,000 sites at Anjanapura, Banashankari 6th Stage and Sir M Visvesvaraya layouts. But a complete lack of water supply and adequate security
has meant that there are hardly a handful of houses that have come up in the area.

The main grouse of almost all the allottees is that there is no water supply to any of the layouts. The situation doesn’t look like improving anytime soon.

BWSSB chief engineer Venkataraju says, residents of these layouts must wait till 2011 for water. “As of now there are only few houses. As the houses are sparsely distributed, it is not feasible to provide water exclusively to these houses.

We will be able to provide water to these layouts by 2011, when Cauvery phase 2 becomes operational and there will be enough houses to provide water to,” he said.

The allottees claim that they can’t build houses without water supply.

For now, the few residents that are present in the area are making do with water from borewells or tankers.

“We have to pay Rs 150 per tanker and this lasts us a week. We were promised, at the time of allotment, that all facilities will be provided to us. But it’s been nine years since, but we still don’t have water or sanitary facilities,” said Ramesh Babu, resident of 11 Block Anjanapura.

Another complaint of residents in these areas in the lack of security.

According to residents, the burglary of a house in Anjanapura on Thursday morning (see box) was just one of the many that occurred here.

Lakshman, a resident says that the houses are isolated making them easy targets for burglars. All three layouts have power supply but except for the main roads, most of the roads here are untarred.

All this and the global economic crisis has meant a crash in the market value of these sites. Sites which were being sold at Rs 2000 per sq foot, is now being offered at Rs 1200 per sq foot. “There are more than 500 sites up for sale but there are no buyers,” said Shivkumar, a real estate agent in Anjanapura. It’s the same scene in BSK 6th stage, where sites priced at Rs 2,300 are being offered at Rs 1,700 per sq foot.

On Feb 28, the cabinet approved three new layouts to be named after former chief ministers.

Anjanapura Layout

Allotted in: March 2001 Number of BDA sites:12,340 Status: No BWSSB water supply in the entire area, sanitary facilities and tarred roads are found only in a few places.

BSK 6th Stage

Allotted in: October 2001 Number of BDA sites: 15,800 Status: No BWSSB water supply in the entire area, sanitary facilities only in few areas. Only the main roads are tarred.

Sir M Visvesvaraya Layout

Number of BDA sites:21,239 Status: No proper BWSSB water supply in the area, only few roads are done up.

BBMP polls still a far cry-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

BBMP polls still a far cry-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
BANGALORE: The State Election Commission (SEC) filed an interlocutory application in the high court on Wednesday, seeking directions to the
government
for notifying delimitation of wards and the reservation list for the BBMP polls. The elections are already 28 months behind schedule.

The application states that though the court gave four months time (till March 10), the authorities have not yet provided the lists. Neither have they replied to a letter sent by the commission in January, reminding them of the November 10 high court order. A division Bench had then given specific directions to the government and the SEC to hold the polls within four months. The Bench headed by chief justice P D Dinakaran, while hearing two interlocutory applications filed by the government and the SEC, had observed that no more extension will be given on any ground.

Advocate general Uadaya Holla told the court that due to the expansion of Bangalore city and clubbing of seven City Municipal Councils, a TMC and 110 villages into the new entity called BBMP, there were 58 lakh new voters and an area of 500 sq km to consider.

"The delimitation process is on. It takes four months. Thereafter, we will bifurcate the wards and also provide reservation," he said, seeking extension. The SEC had sought a direction for the state to complete the required preliminary groundwork like delimitation and fixing of ward reservation at the earliest.

P R Ramesh, former mayor of the city, filed a PIL in 2006 and a contempt petition recently alleging non-compliance. That petition is before a division Bench for consideration. The BBMP polls are already delayed by two years and an administrator is looking after the affairs since November 23, 2006.

Drain water flows from taps-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

Drain water flows from taps-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
Bangalore : Tap water may as well come from the drains for residents in several parts of the city. “Grey or black in colour, and smells
like hell,” that’s how residents describe their water supply. And they’ve literally suffered it for several months now.

Walking down Cambridge Layout, you slowly realize that you're in high-fever zone! 76-year-old A B S Ramana has high fever and is also taking quinine as his doctor suspects it to be malaria. Prema Devraj’s mother-in-law is also down with high fever. All thanks to the clogged sewage water in side drains, which attract quite a few mosquitoes. What’s worse, for over two months now, the drinking water line is almost sinking into this mess. “This despite our regular complaints to BWSSB” they say.

More stinkers:

Shadabnagar in Kaval Byrasandra is a thickly populated area plagued by unhygienic conditions. A drinking water line was broken as a result of work at a construction site recently. The unrepaired line has led to an unhealthy cocktail of sewage and drinking water. The Cauvery water here is brown, sedimented and smells foul. Even the wells yield black water.

Since people here are mostly from poorer sections, buying packaged drinking water or getting stock from tankers is unaffordable. They have to go at least 2 to 3 kms to get water even for washing purposes.

The children have been worst affected. Many are down with diarrhoea and typhoid. A few others frequently get high fever.

“We approached the MLA, but no action has been taken yet,” complain residents. Surrounding areas like Muneshwarnagar and Ashwathnagar are also affected, although it's nothing new. These residents suffered from similar water woes last year.

Dandapani has been living behind Anjan theatre on Magadi Road for the last 45 years. This is the first time he's come across such heavily contaminated water. "We got black, foul smelling water for at least 25 days!'' he complains. Almost 300 houses in three cross roads (6th-8th cross) received such water.

One of the pipelines supplying water was broken and much of it was contaminated by a parallel sewage line. After repeated complaints to the BWSSB office and the local MLA's intervention, the problem was finally attended to on Saturday evening. However, residents have their fingers crossed till Wednesday, when water will be supplied after repairs.

What’s the way out?

According to BWSSB spokesperson, most thickly populated areas get contaminated water supply. “It’s because of abuse of side drains. People even clog sewage lines with sanitary napkins and wastes. And a few areas also have old pipelines. We are working on replacing them in most areas frequently affected,” he said.

Those facing similar problems can call 22945114.

India Failing to Control Open Defecation Blunts Nation’s Growth

Bloomberg.com: India
Until May 2007, Meera Devi rose before dawn each day and walked a half mile to a vegetable patch outside the village of Kachpura to find a secluded place.

Dodging leering men and stick-wielding farmers and avoiding spots that her neighbors had soiled, the mother of three pulled up her sari and defecated with the Taj Mahal in plain view.

With that act, she added to the estimated 100,000 tons of human excrement that Indians leave each day in fields of potatoes, carrots and spinach, on banks that line rivers used for drinking and bathing and along roads jammed with scooters, trucks and pedestrians. Devi looks back on her routine with pain and embarrassment.

“As a woman, I would have to check where the males were going to the toilet and then go in a different direction,” says Devi, 37, standing outside her one-room mud-brick home. “We used to avoid the daytimes, but if we were really pressured, we would have to go any time of the day, even if it was raining. During the harvest season, people would have sticks in the fields. If somebody had to go, people would beat them up or chase them.”

In the shadow of its new suburbs, torrid growth and 300- ­million-plus-strong middle class, India is struggling with a sanitation emergency. From the stream in Devi’s village to the nation’s holiest river, the Ganges, 75 percent of the country’s surface water is contaminated by human and agricultural waste and industrial effluent. Everyone in Indian cities is at risk of consuming human feces, if they’re not already, the Ministry of Urban Development concluded in September.

Economic Drain

Illness, lost productivity and other consequences of fouled water and inadequate sewage treatment trimmed 1.4-7.2 percent from the gross domestic product of Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam in 2005, according to a study last year by the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program.

Sanitation and hygiene-related issues may have a similar if not greater impact on India’s $1.2 trillion economy, says Guy Hutton, a senior water and sanitation economist with the program in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Snarled transportation and unreliable power further damp the nation’s growth. Companies that locate in India pay hardship wages and ensconce employees in self- sufficient compounds.

The toll on human health is grim. Every day, 1,000 children younger than 5 years old die in India from diarrhea, hepatitis- causing pathogens and other sanitation-related diseases, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.

‘Sanitation Crisis’

For girls, the crisis is especially acute: Many drop out of school once they reach puberty because of inadequate lavatories, depriving the country of a generation of possible leaders.

“India cannot reach its full economic potential unless they do something about this sanitation crisis,” says Clarissa Brocklehurst, Unicef’s New York-based chief of water, sanitation and hygiene, who worked in New Delhi from 1999 to 2001.

When P.V. Narasimha Rao opened India to outside investment in 1991, the country went on a tear. For most of this decade, India has placed just behind China as the world’s fastest- growing major economy. Revenue from information technology and outsourcing jumped more than 300-fold to $52 billion a year as Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., Infosys Technologies Ltd. and other homegrown giants took on computer-related work for Western corporations.

Annual per-capita income more than doubled to 24,295 rupees ($468) in the seven years ended on March 31, 2008, before the full force of the financial meltdown kicked in. Even during the current global recession, India’s economy will expand 5.1 percent in 2009, the International Monetary Fund projects.

Hygiene Breakdown

Yet India’s gated office parks with swimming pools and food courts and enclaves such as the Aralias in Gurgaon, outside New Delhi, which features 6,000-square-foot (557-square-meter) condominiums, mask a breakdown of the most basic and symbolic human need -- hygiene.

Devi, who installed her neighborhood’s first toilet, a squat-style latrine in a whitewashed outhouse, created a point of pride in a village where some people empty chamber pots into open drains in front of their homes. Like most of Kachpura’s residents, more than half of India’s 203 million households lack what Western societies consider a necessity: a toilet.

India has the greatest proportion of people in Asia behind Nepal without access to improved sanitation, according to Unicef. Some 665 million Indians practice open defecation, more than half the global total. In China, the world’s most populous country, 37 million people defecate in the open, according to Unicef.

‘It’s an Embarrassment’

“It’s an embarrassment,” says Venkatraman Anantha- Nageswaran, 45, an Indian working in Singapore as chief investment officer for Asia Pacific at Bank Julius Baer & Co., which managed $234 billion at the end of 2008. “It’s a country that aspires to being an international power and which, according to various projections, will be the third-largest economy in 20-30 years.”

India has the highest childhood malnutrition rates in the world: 44 percent of children younger than 5 are underweight, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute.

“Malnourished children are more susceptible to diarrheal disease, and with more diarrheal disease they become more malnourished,” says Jamie Bartram, head of the World Health Organization’s water, sanitation, hygiene and health group. “If we collectively could fix the world’s basic water and sanitation problems, we could reduce childhood mortality by nearly a third.”

Half of India’s schools don’t have separate toilets for males and females, forcing young women to use unisex facilities or nothing at all. Twenty-two percent of girls complete 10 or more years of schooling compared with 35 percent of boys, a national family health survey finished in 2006 found.

Indignity, Infections

Devi says she was concerned that her 14-year-old daughter would suffer the indignity and infections she herself endured due to poor menstrual hygiene. That was a major reason she bought a toilet, taking out a 7,000 rupee, interest-free loan from the U.S. Agency for International Development, which enabled her to pay for her new latrine over 18 months.

The agency also gave her a 3,000 rupee grant and a 2,500 rupee-a-month job with its Cross-Cutting Agra Project, which promotes hygiene and sanitation in her village. Until then, she, like her husband, was unemployed. Her daughter’s situation has also improved, Devi says.

“When she has her period, it’s especially difficult for her to go out into the fields,” she says. “It’s better to have a toilet at home -- as it is for every female.”

Girls’ Education

Barriers that keep girls from equal education compromise the nation’s future, says Renu Khosla, director of CURE India, a New Delhi group that works to improve water and sanitation for the poor, including in Kachpura.

“We will have a less skilled population of youth,” she says. “Every year of schooling reduces household poverty by bringing down the family size and increasing skill levels.”

So far, companies looking to locate in India haven’t been turned off by the sanitation shortcomings, says Anshuman Magazine, chairman of CB Richard Ellis Group Inc.’s South Asian unit, which manages about 62 million square feet of property in the country. “India is a completely different planet,” he says.

As such, employees know not to drink tap water, and employers provide clean washrooms.

“As far as offices are concerned, I have never come across anyone raising these concerns. Businesses run on making money and opportunities. Since 2004, we have seen huge interest from foreign investors and businesses.”

Hardship Allowances

International corporations that set up branches in Mumbai and New Delhi compensate by paying hardship allowances of 20-25 percent of employees’ salary compared with 10-15 percent in Beijing and Shanghai, says Lee Quane, the Hong Kong-based Asian general manager of ECA International Ltd., a human resources advisory firm.

Some big Indian companies count on private utilities, bottled water and walled compounds with electric fences. Infosys’s resort-style campus on the outskirts of Bangalore has manicured lawns, a Japanese garden, a swimming pool, a golf course and a Domino’s Pizza in its multinational food court.

Unlike most households in the nearby city of 6.8 million, India’s No. 2 software maker’s headquarters doesn’t suffer water or power interruptions, says Bhawesh Kumar, its facilities manager.

Poverty Trap

Infosys stores water from the public network in three underground reservoirs that can hold 2.2 million liters (580,000 gallons), or two days’ supply. The water passes through sand and carbon filters and purifiers, making it cleaner than what’s available to local people, he says. Attendants clean the brown- tiled bathrooms and refresh supplies of paper hand towels hourly during the business day. Infrared sensors ensure that toilets are flushed after each use.

Outside such compounds, dirty water and poor hygiene can trap communities in a cycle of disease, malnutrition and poverty, Bartram says. Worldwide, 18 percent of the population, or 1.2 billion people, rely on open defecation and about 884 million drink unsafe water, according to Unicef.

Every year, more than 200 million tons of human sewage goes uncollected and untreated, fouling the environment. Each gram of feces can contain 10 million virus particles, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs, the UN found.

Fetid Waters

In Devi’s village, sewage and household wastewater flow along open drains that line both sides of narrow alleyways. The fetid water gathers in a shallow channel choking with plastic containers, discarded footwear and household trash. A woman carrying a folded mattress on her head steps deftly along a narrow bridge spanning the mire. A mechanical pump chugs on the bank, sucking up the liquid to dispense over a nearby vegetable patch. Children play around the edge, alongside tethered, cud- chewing water buffalo.

A man walks past, clutching a water-filled plastic bottle, presumably on his way to defecate. The rest of the slurry empties into a trench coursing along a feces-dotted path through a field of cauliflowers. A shoeless boy uses a long-handled spade to create a new sluice for the black sludge to ooze over the vegetable field.

What’s not drained from the trench empties into a cesspool on the flood plain of the Yamuna River, which flows through Delhi and then Agra before joining the Ganges at Allahabad, 1,370 kilometers (850 miles) from its pristine source in the Himalayan mountains.

‘Remorseless Drain’

“If you’ve got feces all around you, it will find its way into your mouth,” Bartram says. “Cholera and typhoid are always dramatic because they come through as outbreaks, and outbreaks catch the news. The real burden is this long, remorseless drain of straightforward, simple diarrheal disease.”

Like Devi’s village, less than a fifth of Agra is connected to a sewage system. The 1.3 million people generate more than 150 million liters of effluent each day. The city has the capacity to treat 60 percent of the sewage. There are plans to build three more treatment plants by 2012 with funding from the state and federal governments and the Japan International Cooperation Agency, according to the Agra Municipal Corporation.

The U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Cross- Cutting Agra Project and other programs are trying to bridge the sanitation gap. The project helped Devi and 39 other households in her village get toilets during the past two years.

Spurring Desire

The Indian government is also contributing. Rural families living below the poverty line are eligible for a 1,500 rupee subsidy to build household latrines under the Total Sanitation Campaign. The decade-old program focuses on educating people about the link between good hygiene and health to change behavior and spur their desire for toilets.

UN agencies such as Unicef provide technical information and recommendations on toilet systems.

Governments and aid groups have strived for decades to overcome India’s sanitation challenges. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who led the movement for freedom from foreign domination, grappled with the issue almost a century ago: “The cause of many of our diseases is the condition of our lavatories and our bad habit of disposing of excreta anywhere and everywhere,” Gandhi wrote in 1925. “Sanitation is more important than political independence,” he declared.

Taboo Topic

Gandhi focused on the Hindu caste system that subjugated the lowest social stratum to the unsavory realm of latrines. For some 4,000 years, so-called bhangis or untouchables earned a modest living by scraping “night soil” from the cavernous household toilet pits of higher castes and carrying it away in pans balanced on their heads.

“Culturally, it was taboo in Indian society to talk about human excreta, night soil and all these things,” says Bindeshwar Pathak, who started Sulabh International Social Service Organization, a Delhi-based group whose name means “readily accessible.” The organization has built public toilets and campaigned on human emancipation issues since 1970.

Pathak says the tradition of scavenging removed the impetus of society, and especially policy makers, to acknowledge and address the sanitation problem.

A.K. Mehta, joint secretary of the Ministry of Urban Development, says India’s close-lipped tradition is changing.

“If you have a legacy of thousands of years, you don’t expect it to go away in a decade or so,” Mehta says. “Progress is significant and in the right direction.”

Millions Waiting

Today, 59 percent of the people in India’s countryside have access to a toilet, compared with 27 percent in 2004, the Department of Drinking Water Supply says. Ten million toilets have been built annually since 2007. More than 30 million households are waiting.

Urban dwellers aren’t spared substandard hygiene. In Mumbai, Delhi and other cities where billboards advertise the latest mobile phones and trendy young women sport Prada handbags, the water that’s piped into homes and apartments must be filtered before drinking. And in most homes it’s available only a few hours each day.

“Even the biggest cities still have that problem,” says Vishwas Udgirkar, 46, executive director of PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP’s government and infrastructure division in New Delhi.

More unsettling, 17 percent of city residents, or 50 million people, don’t have toilets. Fewer than 10 percent of Indian cities have a sewage system. About 37 percent of urban wastewater flows into the environment untreated, where such pathogens as rotavirus, campylobacter and human roundworm can spread via water, soil, food and unwashed hands.

‘Huge Challenge’

“Not attending to this has a cost,” Mehta says. “Between 2001 and ’26, we would be adding another 246 million people to the urban system. How would we meet that huge challenge is the issue.”

India is still struggling to find the best way to clean up the mess.

“A lot of money has been given for constructing the infrastructure,” says Ajith C. Kumar, an operations analyst with the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program in New Delhi. “The predominant experience has been that none of this has worked.”

The southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh is a good example. Earlier this decade, the state government helped build 2.95 million household latrines in rural areas. Residents got subsidies worth about $16 in cash plus coupons for 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of rice. Half the toilets went unused or were being used for other purposes, a February 2007 World Bank report found.

Roomier Than Homes

In the western state of Maharashtra, 1.6 million subsidized toilets were built from 1997 to 2000. About 47 percent are in use.

Many toilets are designed without thinking about who’s going to use them, says Payden (who goes by one name), the WHO’s New Delhi-based regional adviser on water, sanitation and health. Some of the new toilets were roomier than homes.

“The toilets were much stronger and safer, so they used them for storing grain instead,” she says.

Now India is trying a different kind of cash reward to encourage toilet use. The Nirmal Gram Puraskar, or “clean village prize,” gives 50,000-5 million rupees to local governments that end open defecation. Thirty-eight villages qualified in 2005. A year later, 760 villages and 9 municipalities got the prize. In 2008, more than 12,000 awards were presented.

Toilets That Pay

Santha Sheela Nair, India’s secretary of drinking water supply, is assessing another monetary incentive. In a spacious New Delhi office with a white-tiled floor and white walls, Nair thumbs through a leaflet from a desk stacked with foot-high files and books on sanitation. She stops suddenly and points excitedly to a picture of a white toilet adorned with brightly- colored writing.

“This is the first toilet in the world -- in the world -- where you use the toilet and you get paid,” Nair says.

The public toilet, in the town of Musiri in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, gives users as much as 12 U.S. cents a month for their excreta. Feces are composted and urine, which is 95 percent water and has already passed through the body’s own filter, the kidneys, is collected, stored in drums and used as fertilizer for bananas and other food crops in a two-year research project by the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University.

“The day that I can use your toilet and you pay me instead of me paying you, that will be the day when we have really learned to reuse our waste,” Nair says.

Menstrual Hygiene

Nair, India’s eighth drinking-water chief in less than a decade, is passionate about her job. On this day in November, the sari-clad government veteran chimes in on baby feces, menstrual hygiene, the use of excrement as fertilizer and other topics few bureaucrats have dared to broach.

From 2001 to ’03, Nair was responsible for the water supply in Chennai, formerly called Madras, southern India’s biggest city. Then, as rural development secretary for Tamil Nadu, she helped in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami.

Nair is challenging the accepted wisdom on everything from modern sewers to flushable toilets, to the value of human waste. She says Western-style toilets are inappropriate for India, especially in areas that lack fresh water and have limited funds for sewage treatment plants. Instead, she says, the country has to find cheaper, more efficient and environmentally friendly technologies.

Lunar Mission

Inspired by the successful landing in November of the Moon Impact Probe, India’s first unmanned lunar mission, Nair is looking skyward for ideas.

“In space, you have the most vulnerable situations,” she says, playing a 2-minute YouTube video of an astronaut explaining how to manage bodily functions 100,000 miles from Earth. “They are separating the urine from the feces and drying it,” she says, pointing to her computer monitor. “The urine is processed for re-drinking because they just can’t carry that much water.”

Nair says modern sewers aren’t the answer for India. The country can’t afford to waste water by flushing it down a latrine. Instead, she’s encouraging airplane-style commodes that are vacuum cleared or toilets that are attached to contained pits rather than systems that pipe the effluent miles away for treatment. In Nair’s world, recycling human excrement for use as fertilizer is preferable.

‘Our Own Devices’

“We need to invent our own devices which are cost- effective, environmentally sustainable and go with our people,” she says. “We cannot afford the things which are simply things that some civil engineer learned somewhere.”

Converting excreta that have been properly dried for 6-24 months into plant food uses less water than traditional sewage systems and is less likely to pollute waterways, Payden says.

Bartram says composted sewage that’s been handled correctly can be used in agriculture and for other beneficial purposes with negligible risk to human health. The challenge is to sanitize it so that disease-carrying organisms are eliminated.

“Different pathogens vary widely in terms of inactivation,” he says. “Large, robust parasite eggs like the human roundworm, Ascaris, tend to be the longest lived and can remain infectious for years in soil.”

Closing the Gap

The government has a goal of eliminating open defecation by 2012. Nair says it might happen earlier.

“It’s important for us to do it quickly,” she says. Right now, the number of open defecators is roughly double the number of India’s middle class. “This gap will keep widening,” she says. “That is the challenge for us.”

For the Devi family, one household in one of India’s thousands of villages, the gap has narrowed. The health and dignity of five people have improved. More of Devi’s neighbors are trying to emulate her example by installing a household latrine and washing their hands with soap.

“We have gone from home to home to talk about sanitation and cleanliness,” Devi says, standing on the bank of the Yamuna River as cattle drink from its fetid waters. “The solution to a thousand household problems is getting a toilet.”

As India strives to build on two decades of growth, the nation’s sanitation struggle reveals how complicated Devi’s goal remains -- and how damaging the failure to meet it may be.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jason Gale in Singapore at j.gale@bloomberg.net

The Hindu Business Line : Grasp the ground reality

The Hindu Business Line : Grasp the ground reality
“When will the prices fall?” This could have been the most frequently asked question by interested property buyers a year ago. Now, at offerings as low as Rs 1,800 per sq.ft for new residential apartments in key cities, it may appear that the buyer’s market is truly round the corner. Or is it?

Despite the property price slashes, a popular strategy resorted to by developers, and the attractive interest rates doled out especially by the public sector banks, home buyers need to ensure that they do not throw caution to the wind. It is perhaps in these times that “caveat emptor” or buyers beware holds more significance than ever.

While buyers definitely have a good chance of hitting upon a first-class deal now, they would do well to first understand the tricky issues about property pricing. For instance, are the prices indeed lower than what they were earlier for the same locality/property or have the new plans been merely modified to fit a lower budget?

You also need to consider if the pricing is merely a modified package or, in other words, is the per sq ft rate lower only to be loaded with a host of other payments that are not included in the price prominently quoted?

If so, you may simply be getting a seemingly delightful package that may not really make much of a difference to your wallet. You may also need to look up whether the total sq ft that you pay for will be fully made available for your use. Here are a few tips to help you recognise the ‘real’ price of the property as well as the real area you will get to occupy while buying that dream home of yours.
Old wine in new bottle

In 2007 and even early 2008, a good number of developers in the organised space came up with larger-sized projects that mostly offered three-bedroom hall kitchen (3BHK) homes, especially in Tier II and III cities or very large two-bedroom homes in metropolitan cities.

With the surge in interest rates (that made home loans expensive) and the slowdown in the IT sector ( IT employees were said to be the key drivers of residential real-estate demand), builders preferred to lower the total price of a housing unit in the market to encourage buying. In a number of cases this was done by way of reduction in the size of units or lowering the frills or amenities originally offered by the project.

For instance, a 1,300 sq ft home that was earlier priced at, say, Rs 32.5 lakh may now be reduced to a 1,000 sq.ft unit at Rs 24 lakh.

But note that it may now be at the cost of curtailing the earlier offered amenities such as sports club or shopping centre and gardens.

While such a move is indeed welcome, as it makes housing more affordable for a larger universe of buyers, it essentially points more at the mere change in the strategy employed by developers than any significant slash in property prices.

In these cases, home buyers probably may still have some headroom for negotiating with the developers for further price cuts. Such bargains, however, should be backed by research of price trends in the local market.
What you see may not be what you get

The second issue in the recent property offers is the seemingly attractive per sq.ft rate advertised boldly in newsprint and property fairs. A home for Rs 2,000 per sq.ft in Bangalore city may appear hard to resist but then is that rate an all-inclusive one? Well, it seldom is for a host of additional charges may increase the property price as much as 10-15 per cent!

Preferential location charges or PLC, which is paid to get a pleasant view of, say, a garden or pool from your home, is one of the most common forms of add-ons. This is charged on a per sq ft basis (say Rs 100 per sq ft x total area of the house). So too, floor rise cost that is typically charged for higher floors of, say, fourth onwards is a common occurrence in high-rise building projects.

Another cost add-on could be the car parking space, which is almost always paid separately and may vary based on whether it is covered or open or stilt. The corpus fund for maintenance of the property (typically called interest bearing maintenance security), which is collected one time for major expenses of property also merits attention.

Buyers need to bear in mind that this one-time expense is besides the monthly maintenance or upkeep charges that one may have to pay for later. Some projects also collect deposits for power and water supply — especially where there are facilities such as power back-ups and water and sewerage treatment facilities.

You can seldom refuse these payments as these services are a necessity for many projects developed in the outskirts of cities.

Moreover, where the property comes tagged with a clubhouse or other outdoor amenities, be assured that a deposit may surely follow it. In some cases, not only are such deposits mandatory (whether one gets to use the facilities or not), a compulsory membership charge for one-two years is also collected. And these apart, the stamp duty and registration charges too add up to the overall cost.

So, wondering what these additional costs may mean when you are looking to buy a house? Well don’t. It simply means that you may end up paying at least Rs 5-10 lakh more (may vary based on the total area) than the ‘per sq ft x area’ cost you had initially imagined. Remember, most per sq.ft quotes advertised by builders would not include these charges. These additional cost components usually make their presence known only in the detailed break-up when you seek further information.
the greater ‘common space’

The third aspect a buyer should be aware is that while one pays for the full super built area of the apartment, the living space or carpet is a good 22-30 per cent lower than the area typically quoted. A 1,000 sq.ft house may eventually have only 770 sq.ft of living space.

This is because you have to also pay your share of the common undivided area (total area less common interest is called the plinth) in the whole apartment complex and also the space lost in wall thickness and so on.

So, in other words, while you pay for the super built-up area, you get to own only the super built area minus the common area and the wall thickness; this is called the carpeted area or the area you get to use inside your home.

While some developers may claim that they have not built in all the common undivided area in to your per sq.ft rate, do not get carried away as it is not easy to verify the developers’ stance, i.e. whether say the Rs 2,000/sq.ft is indeed excluding some of the common area.

But all said and done, do not lose heart as these issues do not suggest that property price cuts may be a farce. In fact many developers have genuinely slashed prices for some properties they have recently launched.

So, while there may be good deals in such offers, you need to bear in mind the pricing issues we have looked at to arrive at the actual cost before you make a final purchase decision.

No contractors for infrastructure work?

No contractors for infrastructure work?
In what is on face value a bid to “showcase” infrastructure projects on hand and the “business opportunities”, a cross-section of the civic agencies in Bangalore will hold a day-long interaction with some major contractors on Saturday.

Well-placed officials said that the meeting arranged by the Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation (KUIDFC) is a part of the efforts to address the dearth of quality contractors for some major infrastructure projects.

There are instances where civic agencies like the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board and the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike failed to compete for the tender process; either there was no response for the tenders or the tender negotiation committee and the contractors could not arrive at a consensus, they said.

While the KUIDFC is looking at a host of projects like drinking water supply projects in North Karnataka and work related to coastal env i ronment management, officials concerned with projects specific to Jawaharlal Nehru - National Urban Renewal Mi s s i o n ( JN-NURM) s a i d that BWSSB’s underground drainage works in Bangalore and Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Sewerage Board’s (KUWSSB) works in Mysore suffered awhile due to lack of reputed players.

The situation is not Bangalore or Mysore-specific, JN-NURM cities across the country are facing s i m i l a r problems; i t s Cent r a l Sanctioning and Monitoring Committee (CSMC) is apprised of the issue, said an official.

“There is a lot of work happening and we need good contractors who can delive r high quality work, on time. There are only so many of them to execute them - all at the same time,” he said.

A BWSSB official said that a recent revision in the schedule of rates has eased the situation to some extent. “Cont ractors are more forthcoming now,” he said.

A senior BBMP official said that there are some constraint s in sticking strictly by the Karnataka Transparency in Public Procurement s Act (KTPP Act ) but declined to elaborate further. BBMP, BWSSB, BMTC, Karnatak a Slum Clearance Board and also the BMRCL are expected to participate in the meeting on Saturday.

BWSSB on the vigil

BWSSB on the vigil
WITH temperatures rising in the city, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), is gearing up to meet any eventualities related to health that may occur during summer. BWSSB officials said, “Exhaustive meetings are being held with BBMP officials, health and water inspectors to discuss strategies for preventing the spread of diseases.” The officials said, “During summer due to excess heat, expansion and contraction of water pipelines occur. This leads to cross connection and contamination of water. We are taking steps to prevent such possibilities.” They said, “If anyone comes across sewage overflow, they should immediately inform the authorities, so that steps will be taken to prevent contamination of water. Fresh water will be supplied to them. We are also gearing up to meet water scarcity during summer. We will make sure that water is supplied to all the residents of the city.” The BWSSB has advised people to drink only boiled water in summer.

Tata Housing presents Bangalore’s first green building - Express Computer

Tata Housing presents Bangalore’s first green building - Express Computer
Tata Housing’s Xylem, an environment friendly green IT park, is an engineering marvel, which not only saves energy and cooling costs but also gives more lung space and natural light for employees working there, says Akhtar Pasha

Green buildings are popping up and for good reason—green design elements not only help save environmental resources, they also boost the bottom line and are good for health and morale. Sophisticated buyers and companies leasing office space are willing to pay a premium for the benefits that green buildings offer.

Sticking to worldwide standards in constructing buildings, the Tata Housing Development Company Ltd., has built Bangalore’s first Green IT park, Xylem near Whitefield. This IT Park has been designed to tackle the ‘Sick building syndrome’, with its major focus on occupants’ health with an ergonomic design and architecture. The design boosts employee productivity as well as helps reduce the operational cost of the building. Xylem has received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED-Gold) rating. Brotin Banerjee, Managing Director, Tata Housing Development Company Limited, said, “This is one of the most environmentally friendly buildings of its size in the entire country. We at Tata Housing aim to provide our customers a whole-building approach in all key areas of human and environmental health with natural ventilation and illumination, designed to work with the exterior environment. These advanced standards will optimize comfort and utility thereby contributing to an excellent working lifestyle.”

The Green IT park covers an area of 3,40,490 sq ft with a 1,29,000 sq ft car parking facility that houses power points for charging electric cars and scooters. It has eight floors and houses 13 offices.

* More fresh air to breathe: The workspaces are supplied with 22 CFM [cubic feet per minute] of fresh air compared to 15 CFM in a conventional building for better workspace ventilation. Optimum in-house climate and lighting are maintained to boost productivity. There are open spaces at different floors.
* More natural sunlight: Banerjee explained, “Xylem uses a double glazing 6-mm glass—from inside and outside. On the outer side, the UV light entering into the building is cut out with a 6-mm tinted glass. The interior 6-mm glass is clear and, in between the two glasses, a gap of 12-mm is maintained that acts as an insulator, blocking harmful UV light entering into the building and at the same time allowing natural light to transfer easily.”
For the terrace, the engineers have used while China mosaic [broken pieces of china bone] with reflective index that reflects the heat from sunrays. About 65% of the terrace floor space is covered with China mosaic. The double-glazing glasses along with China mosaics minimize ‘heat island effect’ in and around the building.
* Efficient air-conditioning: In a conventional building, four chillers are required [each with 250 tons capacity] to get 1,000 tons of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HAVAC) load for cooling the area. However, Xylem’s load is designed such a way it uses only three chillers resulting in a saving of 250 tons. To get this performance a head recovery wheel [a disc] regulates the Air Handling Units (AHUs) which control the air supply by sensing the temperature. Additionally it uses Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) that control the motor speed, which controls the AC load so that there is consumption only when the load is there. The energy-efficient air conditioning saves up to 26% of energy consumption as compared to a conventional building.
* Fire safety and crisis management: The smart Building Management System (BMS) at Xylem combines infrastructure and solution to integrate, monitor and control different systems during daily functioning of the building.
For example in case of a fire, the fire panels which are connected to AHUs shut down by cutting the supply of oxygen, which will help curb the spreading the fire. Additionally fire panels connect to the PA system on each floor and can aid in speedy evacuation of the building. The fire doors are made of special materials with a fire rating of two hours.
Similarly, the BMS manages indoor air quality. The system integrates the indoor environment management and other external sensors to monitor air quality and energy consumption in various sections of the building. The crisis management team monitors and activates alarms, shuts down air conditioners, and transmits information to a central console for quicker evacuation in case of a fire. CCTV cameras are positioned at every entry and exit point to the building. The traffic management monitors the status of the six passenger and two service elevators from a central control, allowing the management team to direct users accordingly.
* Power savings and power backup: BESCOM has provided 2,800 KVA of power to the premises. The DG configuration is planned in such as way that it saves power—3 DG sets x 1,165 KVA powers the main building. It has an additionally DG set x 405 KVA load which is used for powering the common area on Saturdays and Sundays.

Solar panels cover the 35% of the terrace floor space, which acts as a standby power for the common passage areas providing 23kW of power translating to 27,530 KwHr of annual power leading to a saving of Rs 150,463 per annum.

Xylem uses rainwater harvesting and 100% of the wastewater is recycled for landscaping use. Sensory taps are installed at all basins and toilets that further reduce the water consumption.

Overall, the building is designed to be approximately 19% more efficient in operational cost as compared to a conventional building. Other benefits include savings of 26.6% on air-conditioning power & cooling costs, 34.1% saving on water supply and 1.6% on common area power.

akhtar.pasha@expressindia.com

City gets Rs 3,300 cr

City gets Rs 3,300 cr
Karnataka chief minister B S Yeddyurappa has allocated Rs 3,300 crore for the infrastructure development of Bangalore city in the state budget for fiscal 2009-10. Of this amount, Rs 2,000 crore will be spent on upgrading arterial roads in greater Bangalore under the public private partnership for their maintenance. The Bangalore Bruhat Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will invest Rs 800 crore on infrastructure development in the city, while the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) will spend Rs 500 crore on other development works, including construction of 10-lane signal free road, connecting inner and outer ring roads, with private participation, he said.


The state government has spent Rs 1,000 crore for improving the basic infrastructure and Rs 500 crore worth of developmental works by BBMP in the next fiscal.

The state will also invest Rs 600 crore in FY 2010 towards its capital share for the first phase of Bangalore metro rail network, which is being extended. The centre-state project will require an additional Rs 1,763 crore for extending the route, Yeddyurappa, who also holds the finance portfolio, announced in his budget.

The state will provide Rs 300 crore for augmenting drinking water supply across the city. The Japan Bank for International Corporation is partly funding the ambitious project, estimated to cost Rs 3,384 crore. The water is brought from the river Cauvery, about 140 km from the city. The budget has allocated Rs 600 crore for drainage works in the city.

Another Rs 500 crore will be provided to start a luxury bus service, with a minimum fleet of 1,000 deluxe buses.

In addition to this, the chief minister has announced an allocation of Rs 500 crore capital grant to KRDCL for instituting Karnataka road fund for executing 10,000 kms of state highways and important roads and 12,600 kms roads in rural areas, with private participation.

Karnataka State Highway Development Project-2 will get an allocation of Rs 380 crore for development of 3,400 kms of highways. The government will also spend Rs 400 crore for maintenance of important district roads under Chief Minister's Rural Road Development scheme and roads and bridges under NABARD assistance at a cost of Rs 230 crore.

Slum-dwellers face four-fold tax increase-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

Slum-dwellers face four-fold tax increase-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
A low-lying slum zone -- narrow, stinking lanes, no proper water supply or sanitation and people living for years under the
same GI (galvanized iron) roofs. Worse, only a handful here have got their hakku patras (title deeds). While the living conditions at the New Corporation Colony on Bore Bank Road haven't changed for years, maybe worsening over time, the zonal classification for property tax has changed dramatically.

Around 1,000 houses in the colony now face revised classification. Predominantly a slum dwellers' abode, this area was earlier classified under F zone in SAS 2000. Under the revised classification, it has moved up to D zone and paying at least four times what was previously paid, explain personnel at the BBMP help centre in the area.

About 90% of its residents are corporation pourakarmikas and many like Venkatappa, 60, Parvatamma, 40 and Meena have been living here since childhood. But, none has paid tax. `Lack of proper infrastructure' and `no hakku patra' are common reasons for this. Barring a couple of property owners here with title deeds who have already paid the tax, many are waiting. "Should we pay tax for living in such conditions?'' asks an angry Meena.

"There has been a problem in zonal classification and we've written to the BBMP commissioner about it,'' BBMP revenue inspector of ward 91 L K Marigowda said.

"I was on leave when the classification was sent for verification. When I returned to work, I was told it had been sent back. We've asked the commissioner to look into this issue. The applications of these residents are being kept on hold,'' said the inspector.

Industry says govt is not friend in need

Industry says govt is not friend in need
he industry in the state has expressed disappointment, saying that the government has ignored it at a very crucial juncture.

Expressing the concerns, N N Upadhyay, president of Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) said, “The industry is in the grip of an acute downturn and it is but normal for trade and industry to expect progressive measures. It is disappointing to note that the chief minister seems to have ignored the case of the industry at this critical point of global downturn.” Viswanathan, chairman of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Karnataka said, “The chief minister could have been more ambitious in presenting the budget proposals, particularly in the context of relatively low economic growth of 5.5 per cent in 2008-09.” But the industry appreciated Yeddyurappa for covering a large number of issues in a broad sweep in the budget.

Allocations made for education, infrastructure, power, irrigation, rural development, housing, water supply and sanitation are welcome as these are absolutely essential for economic development. It is hoped that the provisions made for power and road development will be sincerely implemented.” Karnataka Small Scale Industries Association (KASSIA) stated that expectations had been belied in the budget.

“On the whole at a critical situation, as in the present context, where the SME sector is struggling for growth there has not been any leverage by way of government support,” said Arvind N Burji, president of KASSIA.

State has constantly under- performed the country figures in GDP growth which is of serious concern. Industry is in the hope that provisions made for agriculture and irrigation will help these core sectors to come out of the prolonged crisis. Reduction in stamp duty on immovable property has been nullified by the increase in stamp duty on various types of agreements. Public debt at 27 per cent of the state’s GDP and interest burden of 11 per cent of revenue receipts looks like the government is getting into a debt trap.

Rs 33 bn budget for Bangalore infrastructure- Infrastructure-Economy-News-The Economic Times

Rs 33 bn budget for Bangalore infrastructure- Infrastructure-Economy-News-The Economic Times
The Karnataka government on Friday allocated Rs 33 billion (Rs 3,300 crore) for the infrastructure development of India's IT hub in
the state budget for the ensuing fiscal 2009-10.

"Of the total budget (Rs 33 billion), Rs 20 billion (Rs 2,000 crore) will be spent on upgrading arterial roads in Greater Bangalore under a special programme, involving private partnership for their maintenance," Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa said, presenting the vote-on-account for FY 2010 in the state legislative assembly.

The Bangalore Bruhat Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will invest Rs 8 billion on infrastructure development in the city, while the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) will spend Rs 5 billion on other development works, including construction of a 10-lane signal free road, connecting inner and outer ring roads, with private participation.

The state government has spent Rs.10 billion for improving the infrastructure of the city in this fiscal (2008-09).

"The state will also invest Rs 6 billion in FY 2010 towards its capital share for the first phase of Bangalore metro rail network, which is being extended. The Centre-state project will require an additional Rs 17.63 billion for extending the route," Yeddyurappa, who also holds the finance portfolio, told the assembly.

The state will provide Rs.3 billion for augmenting drinking water supply across the city. The Japan Bank for International Corporation is partly funding the ambitious project, estimated to cost Rs 33.84 billion. The water is brought from the Cauvery river, about 140 km from the city.

Similarly, the budget has allocated Rs 6 billion for drainage works in the city.

Lion’s share of allocations for Bangalore

Lion’s share of allocations for Bangalore
At 15.54 per cent or Rs 4,583.64 crore, the allocation for urban development including Bangalore city tops the sectoral allocation in the state budget. Special allocation for roads, transport, drinking water supply, connectivity to international airport, upgradation of underground drainage system and others form the list of goodies.

Roads

Between them, BBMP and BDA will spend Rs 1,300 crore for infrastructure development in Bangalore over the next year. The same is apart from a special programme of Rs 2,000 crore for the upgradation of important roads in the city.

BDA alone will spend Rs 700 crore on land acquisition for roads.

Connectivity

The High Speed Rail Link is not mentioned by name but a note is made of the superfast train between BIAL and city to be taken up under public private partnership.

The government will provide Rs 600 crore in 2009-10, for Bangalore Metro towards its capital share. Recently, it was decided to extend Phase-I of Metro rail’s north-south corridor upto Hesaraghatta cross road in the North and Puttenahalli cross road in the South. An additional Rs 1,763 crore is required to be provided. Around Rs 500 crore will be spent on 1,000 high quality buses to be commissioned through BMTC.

Traffic

About Rs 40 crore is provided for improving traffic in Bangalore through the implementation of B-Trac project. Bangalore’s parking crisis, however, finds no mention.

Water

Revival of river Arkavathy and recycling of sewerage water are notable in the proposals on the water supply issues.

The long-term drinking water needs of the city is recognised in the allocation of Rs 2 crore for the preparation of a detailed project report for the revival of river Arkavathy.

About Rs 300 crore will be spent on Cauvery IV Phase - II Stage drinking water supply scheme. Revamp of underground drainage will get Rs 600 crore.

Tourism

Nandi Hills, 60 km from the city, is among a few hill stations to be developed at Rs 10 crore. There is also an assurance to develop night safari facilities in Bannerghatta National Park.

Revenue land buildings to be regularized-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

Revenue land buildings to be regularized-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
: Bangaloreans, particularly the poorer ones, will benefit the most by Wednesday's cabinet decisions. With the Lok Sabha
elections in mind, the government
announced a bonanza for slum dwellers and illegal building owners. Following the implementation of the Delimitation Commission report, Bangalore now has four Lok Sabha seats.

Sale deeds: The cabinet decided to issue sale deeds to around 12,000 families in various slums. All they have to do is pay Rs 200 per sq metre and they can own the land on which they live. The previous government gave only the title deed but decided to issue sale deed only if they paid Rs 1,050 per sq m. "Slum dwellers who have completed a lease period for over 10 years will be eligible for applying for the sale deed,'' said primary and secondary education minister Visvesvara Hedge Kageri.

Regularization of buildings: Unauthorized buildings on revenue land in Bangalore will be regularized. While the cabinet last month decided to regularize buildings only in BBMP limits, Wednesday's decision extended it to even unauthorized buildings under planning authority area, municipal corporations and city municipal councils.

Only those buildings whose plans sanctioned by December 31, 2008 by local authorities will be eligible. Nearly 5 lakh unauthorized buildings could be regularized under this scheme.

The government banned registration of revenue sites in April 2005. It was done to regulate the city's growth and help people secure title deed for their property and assure them basic amenities, as earmarked by the town planning authorities. Due to widespread pressure, the BJP government constituted a cabinet sub-committee headed by revenue minister G Karunakara Reddy to look into the issue. Now, with the ban revoked, site owners need to pay conversion fee and penalty to be legal owners.

Kasturirangan report: The cabinet decided to constitute a sub-committee to study and implement recommendations by an expert committee constituted on Greater Bangalore headed by former space scientist and MP K Kasturirangan.

A major recommendation is to have a non-bureaucrat commissioner to head BBMP. The report highlighted that government should constitute a high-power search committee to appoint this commissioner in consultation with the mayor for a fixed term of three years.

The Kasturirangan report talks of bringing radical changes in administration -- setting up of an umbrella agency, the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) which includes 8,000 sq km of area covered by BMRDA. Another major recommendation is that the mayor, elected directly by the people, should have a 5-year tenure.

Key recommendations

* Water supply: BWSSB's jurisdiction be enlarged to cover the metropolitan region. A special purpose vehicle be established under joint ownership of BWSSB and BBMP to manage retail distribution of water supply in BBMP area

* Transport: Newly created Bangalore Metropolitan Land Transport Authority be strengthened by giving it a statutory basis. The BMTC's jurisdiction should be extended to cover the BMR

* Legislative sanction for creation of MPC should be brought in the BMRDA Act, which should be renamed as Bangalore Metropolitan Area Planning Act

Safety concerns over packaged water-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India

Safety concerns over packaged water-Bangalore-Cities-The Times of India
N A Afsal, a resident of Fraser Town, has been buying 20-litre water barrels for the past five years. He never checks the
certification. Afsal realized something was wrong when his children fell ill frequently.

"Our locality didn't have Cauvery water supply for over five years. Most of us were dependent on the mineral water barrels but I don't remember checking for the ISI mark. As our children would fall ill often, we resorted to boiling the water," he says.

He's not the only one. The majority of households in Bangalore's periphery use mineral water for cooking and drinking. For washing and other purposes, they tap borewell water.

These barrels sourced from the neighbouring kirana stores are sometimes their only source of drinking water. Packaged drinking water industries are making skyrocketing profits as the city reels under scarcity. Their wait for water supply could last for a few more years.

How safe is this water? From where is it sourced? Who approves it?

The Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) issued about 148 licences in Karnataka to packaged drinking water companies, of whom 100 are in Bangalore. These companies have their own borewells and treatment plants but the BIS monitoring system that involves inspecting the plants twice a year shows that 20-30% flout directions.

According to S Ranganathan, who handles certification of packaged drinking water at BIS Bangalore, of those companies which flout parameters, 99% don't follow hygienic manufacturing conditions and this could have serious health impact. Also, a major chunk of producers don't have any certification at all.

"We pinned down 40 firms recently for manufacturing packaged drinking water without licences. We raided the firms and booked cases against them. Not all companies have ISI marks and sometimes they don't follow the regulations," says BIS scientist M Sadasivam.

A leading producer of packaged mineral water serves over 5,800 households, at Rs 75 per barrel, in Koramangala and Indiranagar. Ravikant Hulsure, marketing manager, says he has seen a steady rise in demand since 2001. "The 20-litre barrels give us a better profit margin than 1-litre bottles. The demand is increasing in East and South Bangalore, so we are focusing on that segment." Other small manufacturers, who supply to 100-150 households in a locality on a regular basis, say that even if they have Cauvery water, people tend to rely on packaged water. A family orders 2-3 barrels per week.

According to BWSSB sources, the city is desperately short of water. The 870 MLD of water supplied every day reaches the core areas and at least 72 of the 225 wards in former CMCs and TMCs. Efforts are on to augment the supply but the crisis is here to stay. The Cauvery 4th Stage project will generate another 500 MLD of water which is the current deficit, according to BWSSB sources, but the Rs 3,400 crore project will kick off only in 2011.

Water woes:

* As per Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules of 2001, ISI mark is mandatory on packaged drinking water barrels and bottles

* BIS sources say 20-30% companies that manage to get ISI mark flout standards when checked after a year or so

* Most consumers still don't check for ISI marks

* Proximity of supply and water shortage are major concerns