Monday, January 30, 2012

Global Water Woes

With one-third of the global population living in India and China by 2025, the region will face imminent water scarcity unless there is action. Now experts from the two countries as well as US, Britain, Germany and other places are set to deliberate on water-related issues at a meet here from Tuesday. Billed as the first World Water Summit in India's IT hub, the summit is aimed at generating innovative ideas to meet the challenge of managing scarce water sources.

"Ensuring adequate and safe water to all sections of the population, particularly the poor is a big challenge. The objective of the summit is to deliberate on issues and generate ideas," former Karnataka chief secretary A. Ravindra, the brain behind the meet, told IANS. Ravindra is now advisor to the chief minister and also heads the Centre for Sustainable Development (CSD), a non-profit organisation he started in 2003.

The summit is organised by the CSD in association with Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board and Indian Water Works Association. The summit will bring together experts in water management, government service and academics from India, US, Germany, France, Britain, Canada, Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. 

 The summit has generated apprehension in some quarters that it is a ruse to promote privatisation of water services. A group, Peoples Campaign for Right to Water, has been organising protest meetings in Bangalore. It has also been demanding that the Karnataka government dissociate from the summit.

Ravindra denied the allegation. "We would like to categorically assert that the summit is not a ruse to push for privatisation of water," he said.

"The summit will serve as a platform for exchange of ideas and experiences among participants from different parts of the country and a few other countries which include policy makers, researchers, practitioners, students and members of civil society," Ravindra said.

"A perusal of the agenda of the summit should allay any apprehension about privatisation being its motive. The topics for deliberation include water resource management, waste water management, water quality, water governance," he said.

The summit's theme is 'Urban Water Management' and the focus will be on water resource and conservation, water quality and health, demand management, ICT (Information, Communication and Technology) for water and effects of climate change on water.

The meet "is positioned to be the most important event in the water sector of the Indian calendar in particular, and one of the significant events of the world at large. The central aim is to generate the right ideas for water security," Ravindra said.

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