Urban wetlands meet
To promote the movement to revive dying urban wetlands, CSE organised a workshop on October 3-4 in New Delhi. "Our objective is to motivate the urban population to understand the manifold uses that these decaying water bodies once served, and to emphasise the urgent need to protect and revive them," specified CSE director Sunita Narain.
Individuals and organisations from across the country, who have made significant efforts to conserve ailing lakes, ponds and tanks in their respective cities, shared the experiences. Case studies from Udaipur, Rajasthan; Delhi; Chennai, Tamil Nadu; Srinagar, Kashmir, Uttranchal and Kolkatta, West Bengal were presented. Technical, legal and institutional experts also took part in the vibrant enriching dialogue.
In the course of the deliberations some of the crucial hurdles commonly faced by all litigants came to the forefront. It became apparent that lack of access to scientific data and technology acts as a hurdle. "In order to revive a lake it is necessary to identify, first, the area it originally covered, and second, its catchment area. In a built-up area, it is almost impossible to accomplish both these tasks, as the government is reluctant to impart information of any sort," specified CSE's National Water Harvester's Network chairperson A Vaidyanathan.
"The traditional wisdom of water conservation has been neglected with our growing dependence on state-led piped water supply - further aggravating the crisis, " says VKJain, chairperson of Tapas, a New Delhi-based NGO. As a result most of the water bodies are being encroached and destroyed in the relentless pursuit for urbanisation.
The workshop concluded with a mandate to form a core committee. It facilitates a dialogue and action among the litigants as well as the members of civil society (See box: core committee). The eleven - member committee will work on the issues flagged during the meet.The emphasis will be on strengthening the role of the civil society in protecting urban waterbodies.
Copyright © 2002 Centre for Science and Environment