Tag: waste management

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Future On Tap

Image via DNAIndia

You probably know that India is home to over 1 billion people. And you probably also know that nearly 50% of those practise open defecation.

Infectious diseases are a result of poor hygiene practices, often because of lack of access to clean water. In 2010, the United Nations announced that the right to clean drinking water is a fundamental human right. But millions of people all over the country lack access to clean, potable water.

Solving a nation’s water crisis in a single day isn’t possible. However, there are several steps we can take in that direction. Example: the introduction of Water ATMs in the capital city, New Delhi.

What are Water ATMs?

As the name implies, a water ATM dispenses water. Think of it as a vending machine for clean and safe drinking water 24×7. The best part – these units run on solar energy. Additionally, these machines are powered by ultra-filtration units and Reverse Osmosis filters that further reduce the operational costs.

The Delhi Jal Board piloted water ATMs in partnership with the Piramal Foundation in 2014. Today, you can spot several water ATMs in various parts of the capital city.

Withdrawal can be made by using either cash or a smart “Sarva Jal” digital card issued by the Board. The cost of water from these machines is low- 25 paise per litre. Metro stations are a popular installation point because of the constant stream of travellers.

Water ATMS provide Delhi’s economically weaker sections (and thirsty travellers) with access to safe, clean drinking water at affordable prices. Also, these machines encourage users to carry refillable bottles, cutting down on the dependence on single-use plastic water bottles.

Water ATMs are taking off all over the country, with public-private-NGO collaborations (in various permutations and combinations) germinating and throwing up projects in areas like Moradabad, Berhampur (Orissa), Bangalore, and many other places.

I’ve heard many a dire prediction that the Third World War will be fought over water; well, we might just avoid that yet.


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A Tale Of Two Villages

(Featured image from North East Tourism)

Kerala’s been in the news of late. No surprise, given the devastating floods that claimed over 300 lives and displaced a good chunk of the population, or the efficient way in which Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s government has responded to the same, or the serious questions about the disaster raises about the long-term sustainability of the state’s development trajectory.

My personal favourite, though, is the one about the completely sustainable village. Thuruthikkara in Mulanthuruthy panchayat (in Ernakulam district) is the state’s sole Green Village; what’s even more amazing is that they achieved this target in just three months.


Image via CapitalKhabar

Thuruthikkara was the first success story of the Oorja Nirmala Haritha Gramam initiative, which was begun by the Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishat in October 2017. Following the village’s gallop to Green Village status by January 2018, the initiative was expanded across the state.

The village has shifted en masse to LED lighting systems (as opposed to incandescent bulbs) to save energy; furthermore, they have LED clinics where they assemble and even repair the bulbs. Drinking water wells are regularly recharged with rainwater, and kitchen waste is composted and used an manure in homestead farming.

The people of Thuruthikkara are no stranger to environmentally-conscious initiatives: the village had already had tags like plastic-free, e-waste-free and filament-free even before the Haritha Gramam initiative.


Too little has been written about Nagaland’s own recent bout of floods. Unfortunately, that isn’t my focus today either. I’m here to talk about happier things.

India’s first Green Village was Khonoma in Nagaland. Known as Khuwnoria in the language of the resident Angami tribe, Khonoma is in fact Asia’s first Green Village. Twenty years ago, the Khonoma Nature Conservation and Tragopan Sanctuary (KNCTS) was established to curb hunting that was affecting the wildlife of the region, and also to preserve the forest cover against the efforts of the timber industry.

In stark contrast to places in India that cry ‘tradition’ in the face of progress, the people of Khonoma set about gradually eradicating the long-standing tradition of hunting in order to promote sustainability and biodiversity.

paddy-fields khonoma

Image via FootLoose Dev

Being Clean is a natural part of being Green, and it’s not just limited to energy. Sanitation is an important aspect of sustainability, and it’s something that every person is Khonoma takes seriously. Saturday morning litter-picking is carried out by the school children every two weeks, an activity launched by the Khonoma Students’ Union since the village was officially declared Green on October 25, 2005 (two days from now is the 13th anniversary!).


It’s not always about limitations– these are villages, they’re less developed than cities so being sustainable isn’t such a problem– we know. But both Khonoma and Thuruthikkara had their own obstacles to overcome before they could become sustainable and earn that Green Village tag. And they did.

A desire to change isn’t all you need, but it definitely goes a long way.