Waste Water and Water Waste

Waste Water… and Water Waste

This is blog is inspired by www.BlogAdda.com

But I have not written it over weekend, simply because I was researching and I needed to get my information right.

So lets start at the very beginning.. No we are not going to a place where water was common resource but to this event called the world water day. It’s on 22nd of march, which means this article is almost a week late and most of us are probably already looking at 1st April for the all fools day. this year the UN focuses on waste waters and the ways to reduce and reuse as over 80% of all the waste water from our homes, cities industries and agriculture flows back into nature polluting the environment and losing valuable nutrients and other recoverable materials.

The UN also has a goal 6 which is ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. The target of this is is to halve the proportion of untreated waste water and increase water recycling and safe re-use of water.

Some facts from the UN

  • Globally over 50% of the water waste generated by the society flows back into ecosystem without being treated or reused.
  • 8 billion People use a source of drinking water contaminated with faeces, putting them at risk contracting cholera, dysentery, typhoid and polio. Unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene cause around 842,000 deaths each year.(data courtesy WHO/UNICEF)

After all this not really relevant data, let’s look at waste water,  how many of you saw sewage, kitchen flow etc. etc. the imagery of cattle bathing in the river, or clothes being washed in the river. Well cattle bathing in the river is their right I do not what gives us the right to deprive them, but that is another war, not the agenda here. clothes being washed at the river side is an issue because the detergents that are marketed so heavily subtly ridiculing the traditional washing aids, contaminate water.  I doubt if the policy makers also thought of the real pollutants from urban sewage, trucks being washed at the water bodies, industrial waste etc. etc. Contamination also occurs right up to the groundwater through septic tanks.

The theme this year is about reusing waste water

The Water Resource Department,(WRD) has come up with a sequential water reactor, the first level of treatment allows the water to be used to flush the toilets and to be used in gardens, while the second level allows the water to become drinkable.  Government provides assistance to bring this into action; somehow housing societies are rather reluctant to pick this one.

The area that WRD is supposed to work on, is creating awareness on rainwater harvesting and assisting people to do so. the government gives a subsidy of 50.000 – 2 lakhs, to individuals or societies to achieve this. Every panchayat has an officer appointed by the government to do this, yet the citizens are totally unaware of this.

Ground water act calls for all wells to be registered, so do the water tankers. – Details are found on the web of WRD, printed copy of this act is not available, and translation to quite a few vernacular language is also required. The job and funds for doing so is available to the information department. The PWD takes on the cleaning of the existing wells,

The government has allotted funds for de-silting, and cleaning existing wells. The wells need to be registered to avail this. The directorate of health, which is in charge of checking the water quality, has required equipment, and a designated officer but is absolutely clueless on how to use the equipment as no one has demanded that it be done, the resources undergo disuse atrophy.

Know the department involved in water saga,

  • Sewage and Infrastructural Development Corporation. Every state has one.       In charge of the waste water treatment.
  • Water resource department — water supply, rainwater harvest education, registration of wells, and water transport trucks.
  • Directorate of Health Services water quality maintenance, and watch dog for waterborne diseases.
  • PWD water cleaning and de-silting and maintenance of ground water

The information I have handed is also incomplete, since time is a constrain. But amazes me is when we buy a television we check out the service etc. etc. we do not take the trouble of seeing where our tax money is going. Nor do we take the responsibility for any of this when we buy our flat.


This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Community Radio

Travelling by the KSRTC Rajhansa I heard a language I had not heard in years, familiar, yet unfamiliar one got the drift of the language it was Byaari the language of the local Muslims. Which my friends Shameem and Naseem spoke. And it was being aired on the community radio.

The young twenty something kid told me, “aunty I listen to only this bandwidth” more curious about it asked him, he says they have small programs that talks of their community, the events happening there, it was like you are part of the community even you are not physically present.

“It’s better than YouTube, because I can hear when I drive, or when I work.” Actually it is true, I remember the radio from my growing days, since licenses were required to own them, and few people owned them. The Ajjarkaad, tower had a public broadcast which my father says was on since radio entered the human world. People would be seated on the rocks of Ajjarkaad, with their children playing in the sand dunes and maybe some even ambling in the park, the news and songs from vivid bharati or AIR would heard.

Dinner time began with the 8 O’clock news.  At the end of “swargiya kundanlal sehgal’s” song one began getting ready to go to school. Then of course there was fight to listen to the oral teasers of movies, sometimes ghazal programs, various debates and talk shows. I remember being part of the couple youth programs and being paid a princely sum of 105/-Rs. for it.

Somewhere the louder and more demanding sibling of the radio has taken over, the TV, it is intrusive and offensive unlike the radio which is rather more personal.

Goa had such a powerful airway that its bandwidth was available even in places like Angora, in 1961 when the Indians landed, the shut the station down for 25days and when it opened again, the station has become impotent. There are places in Goa where bandwidths are not available.

Content is another issue, with the centre controlling the airway, and programs the issues relating to the community, the language of various communities is getting lost. Like the Byaari and Nawayati communities of Konkan-Karavali, community radio’s maybe a good way of rebuilding the community.  we might actually escape the tyranny of the shrill screeching monotonous RJ’s of Radio Mirchi and 92.7 FM,

When Mr.Sajan Venniyoor made his presentation at ICG at the community radio awareness program, he shared with us the community radio’s in various states, and showed us the status of community radio in goad… it was blank.

Like I mentioned before 1961 Indians bombed Goa shut it down for 25 days, and has stayed stifled before it went right up to angora. Community radio would be a great platform to address the Goan community, revive the Goan culture, and since 2007 the government has opened airways to public. Though individuals cannot have bandwidths, NGO’s universities, colleges can all have them.

Community radio covers up to 10-15kms; it can be tweaked up to 20kms, if the towers are placed on the hilly terrain the radio waves travel much more.

Canada has a community radio called Mango Radio which addresses the Mangalore and Goan community. Kutch has mahila Vikas sangathan  radio which is for the women of Kutch, the issue that the central government came up with  was that it was close to Pakistan border, but how does it matter. After Pakistan has FM station along its border that broadcasts and the waves are received in India.

A community radio is a very personal experience, it is as if, the device is speaking to you, it can follow you where ever and give you company even as you work. It is like sitting in your living room and debating on issues that are relevant to your small community.

If I were to tweak the slogan of democracy a bit… community radio is of the community, for the community by the community. The management of this can be done either by a group of people, or an individual or it can be done to colleges and universities,

Community radio’s being smaller and locally organized it allows, inclusion and participation. It also creates a sense of ownership and belonging. It allows use of technology economically appropriate to the community rendering external controls out of the play.

When someone’s buffalo went missing people asked the local radio man “raga” to help it is so within the community it empowers the community to do its own problem solving. The community radio basically runs on content, access, community participation, self management are all part of it.

The initial layout cost is  a bit steep, for a good one, however the government does support a bit initially, the biggest disadvantage is the minute the bandwidth is allotted to an outfit its billing begins, and there is no exit policy,

community radio
recorder for radio transmission

Some interesting community radio heroes, the Deccan Development society in pastapur, is a women run station as is the Kutch Mahila vikas sangatan project at Bhuj. Bundelkhand has its station run in the local language as Bundelkand is split between two states and it does not belong to either state. The gurgoan community radio is sliced away the elite migrant dwellers, to address and connect to the original Haryanvi populations.

The story of Radio Raghav from bihar is quite interesting. Like the bootooth radio of madhyapradesh where the songs are shared through Bluetooth and broadcasted over speakers.

It might be an interesting option in community building and connecting.

World Social Justice day

February 20th is the designated as the world day of social justice by UN, the theme this year being Preventing Conflict And Sustaining Peace Through Good Work.

Of course this duo word coined in 1850 does mean equal distribution of resources and opportunities in which outside factors that categorize people becomes irrelevant. Since 2007 the UN-General assembly has been recognizing February 20th as the day of social justice. This day is promoting efforts to tackle issues such as poverty, exclusion and unemployment.

The social development aimed at social justice, solidarity, harmony and equality within and among countries lot of there is also pledging of equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources through equity and equality and opportunity for all.

If you were to go through the UN-site there is a whole hoard of hot air, and high sounding ideas, ideals and talk, but at the grassroots I wonder how this pans out… the migrant labour who comes constructs the road, their families living in temporary shanties with no toilets, when they do use the open spaces the educated elite coming down on them hard… is that social justice?

People having to leave their homes in search of menial jobs are that social justice? Young adults trained with skill sets that cannot be applicable, so either they do engineering and work as bank clerks, or they migrate elsewhere disturbing the ecology of the society they migrate into is that social justice?

We confuse “growth” and “development” displace indigenous communities from their legitimate space like the fisher folk of Bambolim beach… the once common resource like the bay and beach has now become exclusive to the five star hotels and this encroachment is this social justice?

If we could train people for the jobs available, people take care of the sick and poor in their own communities probably we would come somewhere near social justice.

Actually all this social justice is a little wonked, I mean the issue we are really talking about here is the great economic divide. Which has been created by greed… we call progress and growth well growth could be good or bad let’s not go there now but progress should mean for the better here is where we get confused,  trees and settlements destroyed is called progress because we have better roads to drive…at faster speeds? Is it social justice that we destroy environment, we displace people we create population, we guzzle gas  to me a world or equality would mean no just a liveable open world for homosapiens but also for the animals, and birds, with our trees and river beds being clean and intact.

At the end of the day equality is not treating everyone the same way it is attending to the different needs equally.

Pravasi Divas

To me Pravasi always meant traveler

So ideally Pravasi Divas should be about Tourists, or if we are talking Indian here, it should be about the travelling Indian, well close enough, Pravasi Divas is about the migrant Indian, who has either given up or on the verge of giving up his/her Indian Citizenship. Oh! he/she is still rooted enough to an Over Seas Indian card..

Jan 9th, is celebrated as the Pravasi Divas and it is supposed to acknowledge the contribution of NRI’s to India.

The skeptic in me, pops high up I wonder if we are talking only about the NRI’s shown in Hindi movies, or do we have the courage to own up to the vast population of the indentured labourers that we find in Guyana, South Africa, Mauratitius and other countries.

When my parents went to states, they were at the Nigara falls, when some one commented if they  were Indians, my cousin who accompanying  replied,

”Well, my guests are Indians, but I am American.”

We have gated communities at Hyderabad, and Bangalore, where Americanism so strong that the children celebrate Halloween, they so totally identify themselves with that.

I AM NOT  saying that it is a bad thing, after all  kids brought up in Delhi are most comfortable with that environment, like the 4th generation of Pandya’s in Udupi are more comfortable speaking Tulu and Kannada than Gujarati’s.

Coming back, to the indentured labourers, are we willing to accept that there were women who entered relationships with their white overseers as that meant a little more money, a more comfortable life for the their off springs. Many times, the men were left behind in Bihar or wherever they went from so the woman did get into other relationships.  Swamps and insect ridden habitat was their reality. Are we willing to acknowledge their sacrifice for the family they left behind in India?

Their traditions, rooted in the year of their migration, and nurtured in the land they migrated too, has its own unique flavour and identity, one cannot call them Indians any more. Maybe at best we call them of Indian origin.

The first generation that migrates, stays clinging to their roots, the second generation, begins with weaning. They compromise on the or rather turn symbiotic and the third generation does not belong to the roots, it is an independent new form that is conceived, nurtured and flourished in a new environment.

Honestly I think we should let the NRI’s be, what they choose to be No-way Returning Indian, it is time we acknowledged the people who are in the country striving to exist and more than that create growth.

This year Bangalore gears up to host the “Pravasi divas” the day MKGandhi returned from South Africa, the day we look at the productive export the country had achieved from indentured labourers, to the white collared or is it the blue collared soft guys.



The settlement

We were standing in the recreation room of International center, as we looked over, there was this shanty built at the dead end with broken bricks and available wood, the other corner was an open washing area where dishes and clothes were washed, the water from this was let out into the open side walk that was not cemented, the water went right into a pumpkin patch and thatch of corn.

the grain patch

The wooden staves were designed to create a unique quite interesting shoe rack.

In this shanty lives a Pahadi family of eight and two dogs.

Are we looking at illegal occupancy, or the nascent beginning of a slum I do not know, however I am impressed by the enterprise and recreation of the open expanses from these people come.

In way it is strange, unexpected things come together and abracadabra we have a new ethos.

vegetable patch on the sidewalk

I think of people who move to distance lands trying to hang on to a memory of hometown left behind.  Imagine leaving a place where you were born, lived in, loved and all your memories are bounded. There is no way one can really leave it. most of us just sit back and yearn for it, while some recreate it in the best possible way. interestingly the graft of the transplanted culture in a new land brings in a third story all together.

kitchen garden

Newer cuisine, new flavours emerge, be it the Chinese of Calcutta or the Parsi’s settlers of Gujarat and sindh, we could be talking of the Indian indentured labourers in Southern America or Africa there is a transplantation of culture the songs and stories emerge into a new voice

the shoe rack.



EMI that Impacts Environment


sometimes we tend to adapt things that we have been brainwashed into believing without realizing the impact it has on health, and environment.

Dr.Kumkum Roy has been taking guest lectures at the Goa University and I was attending it, unfortunately I had to use the Ladies room, and the proof that as a nation we have been baptized to using sanitary towels just pops out.

Sanitary towels a category of waste that makes us queasy, we do not want to talk about it.

Let’s not map the journey of the girl child from diapers – to sanitary towels – adult diapers and cohabitation with carcinogenic. For the moment I am talking only about dealing with the disposal of these biomedical hazards.

personal hygiene (4)
a eco-friendly economic venture

The entire callousness that we dispose these things are appalling, women both rural and urban handle this rather thoughtlessly, either flushing it down the toilet, or wrapping in plastic or paper and throwing it along with the domestic garbage. Some even throw them into water bodies. An average woman throws about 150kgs of sanitary waste every year and this is mostly non-biodegradable.

Dealing with the disposed pads is an issue, as Ms. Swati singh Sambyal a senior research associate at the centre of science and environment, says the major issue is categorization, what does one call it, biomedical waste or plastic waste?  Biomedical waste has to be incinerated, autoclaved or microwaved to destroy pathogens.

Cotton, super absorbent polymer, a whole lot of plastic, blood, sometimes faeces, these are dangerous for any corporation to deal with. To expect garbage collectors to handle them is kind of inhumane.

It takes 236 ml of crude oil to create the plastic that goes into a single disposable diapers,  and parents who put their babies into disposable diapers until two could well run through 5,000 diapers, 20,000 trees is the ecological cost for these 5,000 diapers to extract the 1,180 litres of oil that it needs.

The trend continues with the feminine hygiene products, as of now 12% of the population of menstruating women in India can afford disposable sanitary napkins, but on a conservative estimate the these women contribute about 21.3 billion sanitary napkins to a landfill in their life time.

Wood pulp is used in disposable diapers both adult and children and sanitary napkins, chlorine bleach is another key ingredient; this is both a environment hazard and health hazard as it releases toxic chemicals as by-products. Toxins dioxin and furan are carcinogenic while others cause pollution to the soil and water.

Once the garbage collector collects the napkins, as household waste the segregation occurs manually. That is waste pickers separate out soiled napkins from recyclables by hands, this exposes them to micro-organisms like E.Coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus, HIV and pathogens that cause hepatitis and tetanus. These are then driven out of the city and burned in a landfill sometimes they are shredded before being buried.

personal hygiene (2)90% of the sanitary napkin is plastic; the dry weave is made of polypropylene a plastic polymer. This both harmful to the body, and the environment. The toxic chemical in the DSN tends to be absorbed by the vaginal and labial walls particularly as the skin in these parts are highly vascular.

When it comes to biodegradable the napkins take about 800 years to degrade, the Indian government has come with incineration as alternate, but WHO recommends sanitary waste should be incinerated in temperatures above 800o , to achieve this is a challenge in India it is also a challenge to monitor the emissions from the incinerators.

While various solutions are being panned out to handle this. one interesting one has come from Sakhi biodegradable pads from Goa. A patient of mine who is known to have vaginal rashes had a rash free cycle, and heavy PCOD bleeding was also contained. Maybe we it is time we looked at indigenous options without being enamoured by multinational names and their westernized models.


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A little light on Deepavali.

10660414076_c0fb3ab2bd_oBanditu deepavali siri sobaganu pasarisi lokava belagutali.–

this is a popular kannada poem that translates to Deepavali arrives bringing with it abundance and light.

We have been celebrating Diwali in the same age old manner for hundreds of years with crackers, oil sweets, heavy unhealthy food gambling and what not… are we really Sunita I am not sure.

Is it time we changed… well it is your life, it’s your call.

I have rewritten Deepavali over the years in my life Sunita, because the essence of life is change. The focus changes each year. Like everything in Hinduism festivals also satisfy the Dharma-artha Kama Moksha goals depending on what is that you seek in the festival.

Any festival is about celebrating, we celebrate because we acknowledge something a festival is also about gratitude.

I grew up in the conservative temple town of Udupi; Sunita gambling was never part of our Deepavali. For us Deepavali was about family, getting together, thanking nature and abundance. It was about preparing for the winter.

Deepostsava at udupi
Deepostsava at udupi

The celebration began for us on what we called “neeruthumbisuva habba” that is the festival of storing water. I remember the excitement we had when the water containers were emptied it was cleaned with tamarind and then wiped dry, after which a string of marigold would tied. We would wait for the privilege of painting the outer surface. This I think is what the northern part of the country would call dhanateras. This day also renders thanks to the two Yaksha’s  Kubera and Dhanawantri, Kubera the divine treasurer and Dhanawantri the divine medicine brewer. Here we are actually acknowledging natures abundance of forest reserve and render gratitude.

The tradition of buying something gold is about saving through the year and investing so that there is some liquid asset available in the case of emergency.

The festival naraka chaturdashi on the day before new moon it is anointing oneself and having a ritual bath. This is the first day of this ritual which will happen every morning till the New moon of the month of Makara this is the way ancients handled the activation of VitD3 which is essential. Goa has an excellent tradition where all the garbage is collected an effigy of Narakasura the demon of debris and decay is burned, this is also acknowledging the debris and sends wing it away with honour.

The Lakshmi Puja on New Moon, when Lakshmi the goddess of abundance is welcomed. We do not realize that abundance is within us it for us to acknowledge and care for it. It is thanking nature for the abundance and all her gifts.

The day after the new moon the Bali Padya for us is the most important day, when we render gratitude to the great king Bali who emerges from the netherworld on the day of Onam oversees the harvest and returns to his domain when he knows that his subjects have enough to sustain them without destroying one another.

Balipadya is also the day for Go-puja again an agrarian link cows are very much part of the agrarian soceity, Though the advent of ISKCON and other cowbelt bhakti cults like to refer to this as Govardhan Puja, the worship of Krishna lifting the Govardhana giri, it is about  worshiping Kamadehnu who is the personification of all cattle form, for their contribution in creating wealth and protecting abundance.

When it comes to buying new clothes, traditionally clothes were bought only twice a year once during Yugadhi or the New Year and once during Deepavali the kind of clothes were also different, oh! Yes when we received a new dress we had to give away a old one, the cycle was the one brought during Yugadhi would now come into everyday use, the one used on daily basis would become for home wear only and the home wear only would be relegated to status of a rag to mop or it would be given away to Bhagi’s the daily helps daughter.

As far as food goes since our every day is not rich in ghee or other fatteners, this was an occasional indulgence. And the food prepared was no doubt elaborate and various combinations of rice, fresh coconut, lentil and fresh vegetables. The first extract of sugarcane, the newly made jaggery would all be part of cookery after all a successful harvest does deserve to be celebrated.

indispirePhew I am sorry that I went nostalgic.

Sunita, I realize that I cannot get the world to celebrate festivals the way I think it should be, but it cannot stop me for celebrating it the way I want to celebrate it either.

I welcome the winter with Lamps and ginger Leha, I thank the harvest by cooking the new rice in the fresh coconut yield and make kheer with fresh jaggery. I declutter my house thank Dhanawantri for giving the health and energy to do so. I thank Kubera for the comfortable life that I lead.

I pamper the child in me with some noiseless crackers. I honour the abundance in me, for each of us, you, me and the person on the street are all Lakshmi’s personification of abundance it is just a matter of acknowledging and accepting her within us.

Ps there are numerous myths that are related to this festival, I shall share them some other time.