Nature’s Aura In Your Home

As I sit with the cool morning breezes wafting across from my organic, a little over grown and lush, full garden; I cannot help wonder why most people cannot and have not allowed greenery to fill their lives and spaces.

There is zero pollution in my home although I am situated next to and in a polluted area. My back lane has tall trees and a multitude of beautiful floral creepers whose aroma fills me when I open my windows. Everyone yes everyone can grow greens in gardens, terraces, pots, tubs and containers, recycled Pots, hanging baskets and now even hydroponics.

There are homes laden with green walls where owners have banished any negative air with plants as well as magically transformed their interiors, also terraces overflowing with vegetation and blocking off unseemly adjacent buildings and kitchen gardens, in soil or in pots or even wooden crates where families can joyfully harvest their vegetable and herb requirements.

Those with space do multi-cropping, fruiting trees, crops and afore mentioned herbs and vegetables. Many terraces are filled with cascading creepers as well as so many stunning indoor plants. These are not at all complicated to grow.

Just love and a little effort and the intent to transform your space health and life. Layering and also placing plants at various levels and creating green walls are really a very contemporary fashionable interior trends.

Either way its a win win. Just a beautiful tree surrounded by ground cover or trailing plants and florals can be a master centre-piece, or surrounded by pots or a raised bed to sit.

As a designer I view all from the aesthetic or beauty point of view. Yes practicalities go hand in hand. But its so easy to beautify and energize your environment. Its also important not to have only the passé notion of over cut manicured gardens.

Let plants proliferate. They sing their song . Make your compost, use cut grass and fallen dry and green leaves to fill your beds to act as mulch. Not only would it look like a natural forest bed but would work wonders for all plants as well as reduce tremendously the water needs.The future will require us all to rethink about what we grow and how we cultivate. I would love to see more perennial lush and natural gardens or terraces filled with plants flowers that fill all our lives.

Give your feedback or share your experiences in the comment box below


HETAL SHAH [Teacher]

“When a building is being built there is an impatience to bring it into being. Not a blade of the grass can grow near this activity. Look at the building after it is built. each part that was built with so much anxiety, joy and willingness to proceed, tries to say when you are using the building, ”let me tell you about how I was made” nobody is listening because the building is now satisfying need. The desire in its making is not evident. as, time passes when it is ruin, the spirit of its making comes back, it welcomes the foliage that intervenes and conceals. Everyone who passes can hear the story it wants to tell about its making. It is no longer in servitude; the spirit is back.” – Louis kahn

Images Courtesy: See Below

I have witnessed the pre-birth stage of the building, taking shape in the earth’s womb. digging the earth for foundation, JCB machine moving inside the depth of the earth, carving moment by moment the void for giving immense strength to the structure; tying of the string and drawing of the guideline for foundation in the void seems to me a womb is thickening its lining to embed embryo. Those commotional preparations, assembling of huge machines and stacking of material are as if mother earth is strengthening her to hold baby inside. Slowly but steadily erecting foundation column look like anatomical blueprint. If a human skin and buildings design are stripped down, there would be the same overlapping layer of muscles and materials almost at the same place. Those rose up foundation columns’, taking firm grip in the soil seems like supporting spinal cords. then pits are filled up by mechanical arms, scattering soil over foundation columns are slowly-slowly depth vanishes, only steel bars are left on the re-leveled ground which looks like ”umbilical cord” connecting to the mother’s womb, ensuring fetus for support.

day by day going on construction, scaffolding with a central spines of columns, skeleton of beams, layer upon layer of material, like muscles hiding bony structure in human body, which forming solid flesh beneath the skin. Various structural joints allow this remarkable construction to move with great versatility. The building blocks and brickwork between columns and beams are likes a cartilage giving shape and support. The running grooves on the walls for concealed electrification are the nervous system and, wide and narrow plumbing pipelines are like digestive system of the building.

The complete silence hidden in the darkness that spreads through the height of the stair shaft connects the navel of the building to the depth of the foundation. That height can measure the scale of the depth within no time. It strengthens the experience of vertical dimension of the building, at the same time make us aware about immense depth of the earth. It levitates our dream and provides them flight.

The weary laborer who works in the bare footed in the scorching heat of the sun, their skilled\scaled hands rhythmically taking stones from the mutually piled rows and carrying loads on their heads seems a mother struggling hard to bring up her beloved child. At the end of hectic day when laborers sprinkle water to construction, thirsty walls are swigging, the patterns formed by it are like a joyful games of reflection on the surface. What a divine feeling to observe void taking shape! Architecture presents the drama of construction silenced into the matter, shape and light. When the clutter of construction work ceases and shouting of workers dies away, a building becomes a museum of waiting patience and silence!!

The absent minded gage doors and windows penetrates the surface of the physical image like wall and focus in infinity. Building starts breathing through the opening. What interests mean about its transparency is the idea of evaporation. Transparency is also TRANS-APPEARANCE. The building is now sensing the world. It makes the world aware about its being. The geometry of thoughts echoes the geometry of the room. Architecture is deeply engaged in the metaphysical question of the self and the world, inwardness and outwardness, time and duration, life and death. Why do abandoned houses always have the same hollow smell??? Is it because the particular smell is stimulated by emptiness observed by the eyes???

The body’s first line of defense against the possible damage is the skin, which provides a protective barrier between our environment and us. Now it is a time to surface out the building. The tactile sense connects us with the time and tradition; through impression of touch, we shake the hands of countless generation. A stone polished by its usage is pleasurable to touch, it expresses the slow process of the formation, it is time turned into shape. We trace the density and texture of the ground through our soles. One senses the slow breathing of the floor. Stokes writes, ” I should like to eat up this verona marble touch by touch”.

In our houses, we have nooks and corners in which we like to curl up comfortably. To curl up belongs to the phenomenology of the verb to inhabit and only those who have learnt to do so can inhabit with intensity and always in a daydream, the house is the mother womb or a large cradle. I remember even today nostalgic moments of my sweet childhood, when I licked the age of parapet on the terrace and felt a human touch by running finger on door handle of my room. I never have such sound sleep, which I got in childhood while listening music of torrential rain on the roof. I used to be lost in that music for limitless hours.

We have yet not designed the building to end all building; we haven’t yet created the city to end all cities or a thought to end all thoughts. So, as long as this utopia remains non-materialized there is hoping to go on. Architecture is always hiding behind drawstrings, behind words, behind percepts, behind habits, behind technical constraints. There is no way to perform Architecture in a book. Words and drawings can only produce paper space and not the experience of real space, where meaning is derived from the order of experience rather than the order of composition. Architecture cannot be taught, are learnt, it is a passion to be persuaded and achieve. It is the creativity which has brought man closer to the God, the ultimate creator (which is just an Imagination – Hoax)…!!


1. The eyes of the skin _ Book by Juhani Pallasmaa

2. The Thinking Hand: Existential and Embodied Wisdom_Book by Juhani Pallasmaa

3. Complexity and contradiction in architecture_ book by Robert Venturi

4. Thinking architecture_ book by Peter Zumthor

5. Space as a Membrane _ Book by Siegfried ebeling

6. Atmospheres _ Book by Peter Zumthor

1. Ar. Umang Goswami, UA Design, Ahmedabad

2. Ar. Umang Goswami, UA Design, Ahmedabad

3. Dipen Gada, Dipen Gada & Associates, Baroda

4. Dipen Gada, Dipen Gada & Associates, Baroda

5. Pintrest

A Relook at Delhi’s Water Logging by Manohar Khushalani

Water-logging in the city a sight during every monsoon

This study of Delhi’s Drainage System was last published in 2017 and earlier in 2010. It gets revised after each major development. Why the need to revise it? Please read below.

A city like Delhi which draws its water from the river, follows a cycle similar to the Hydrological Cycle of Nature.  Water is supplied by the municipalities to the residents.  Some of the water is utilized for drinking purposes, some for watering the gardens and some for cleaning, washing and bathing and some for flushing the toilets.  The latter two ideally enter the sewage system.  The rain that falls over the city enters the storm water drains which empty into huge nullahs, which in turn empty into the river Yamuna.

This system can also enable rain water harvesting because the storm water drains can be utilized for water harvesting in an organized fashion.  But the storm water drainage system of Delhi is complex owing to a combination of natural and man made drainage systems – drainage basins which naturally drain, storm water drains along the roads and a new phenomenon of combined sewer cum storm water drains created as a bypass arrangement for blockage sewer lines.  It is this that has resulted in polluting the storm water drainage system.  As a result, the nullahs which used to run with rain water during monsoons now carry only sewage.

What was also being done, using Commonwealth Games as a shield, was to cover up the nullahs.  Now, this is really like putting dirt under the carpet.  This reminds me of a fable, in which, when a rabbit is confronted by pointing a gun at it, all it does is to cover its eyes with its ears.  The rabbit thus thinks that the threat no longer exists, but, it gets shot in any case! When you hide the threat you don’t necessarily solve the problem you only ignore it … until it becomes bigger.  Even if some sewage was reaching the nullahs, the rain water used to ensure that the viscous or solid waste content was appropriately diluted and thus the effluent reaching the river would not be as heavily polluted as it is today.

When residents cover or even fill up the storm water drains outside their houses to help park their cars or when the sweepers  also dump garbage into the open drains, it prevents rain water from reaching the nullahs and ultimately the river.  Blocking a drain should be treated as an offence, because it is equivalent to sabotaging a public utility on which tax payers money has been spent. Historically it is said that the drainage system of Old Delhi was largely developed by the Mughals whereas of New Delhi by the British. It used to work fine until it was vandalized by us humans.

However about 4 years ago a young Municipal Councillor, a debutante, Shikha Rai, took an initiative in all of the blocks in Greater Kailash-1, which appeared to have worked. She developed a new workable storm water drainage system which has worked flawlessly in the last 4 years.

This experiment was so successful that it was further extended and replicated in her entire constituency to Kailash Colony, East of Kailash etc. That’s saying a lot, considering that no earlier government had succeeded. Every year drains were desilted before monsoons. Gradually it became a losing game because desilting became less regular and also, as explained earlier, not feasible.

Shikha Rai re-dug and re-built the entire drainage system. It was specially tricky because the crossover bridges built by residents to enter their driveways, had to be cut and new crossover ramps were built by SDMC on each driveway of each house. The storm water drains were covered by porous RCC slabs, so that cars can be parked and rain water can flow into the drains and road muck was restrained. The effect was really dramatic. Every monsoon the streets, which were ankle or knee deep with water earlier, got drained away much faster.

The Simplistic looking RCC Perforated Tiles Interspersed with removable lid for de-siltation

If that is the case, then why did one wait so long to report this. The reason is caution. Firstly I did not want to give a thumbs up without seeing the system work. Secondly one had to wait for the desilting to take place, to ascertain that the Porous tiles are removable and silt can be extracted. This exercise was done partially by SDMC at a few places and silt was removed a few days ago.

De-silting of Drainage System in Greater Kailash 1 done by SDMC in October 2021

However, one would like to caution the authorities, that like all successful arrangements the system needs to be maintained regularly for it to work properly. Desilting must be done as an when required and the Porous tiles replaced whenever they break. Also it was observed that the drain holes in many of the tiles had got blocked with the silt and muck. The whole system will fail if these holes are not cleared periodically. The plus points are:

As a footnote, one would like to explain that this technical analysis should be treated just so – an evaluation based on observation over 4 years. It is important to acknowledge a successful initiative because while we point out flaws in public utilities, we will be failing in our duty if we don’t give the good news.

Shikha Rai with residents and workers

Another interesting phenomenon, prevalent not only in Delhi but in most cities, is, that garbage is always dumped near the river.  Therefore, when the rains come, that garbage too finds its way into the river.  Now the river in Delhi does not spring out at the city itself but comes down from the Himalayas collecting water and effluent along the way.  For the river to flow smoothly, the unobstructed route through which it flows ensures how much water can pass.  Silting of course reduces the depth and the width of the river. But the problem is compounded by man. The tragedy of Yamuna is that when the city was faced with constraints of space, the authorities that be, allowed construction in the river bed, thus reducing the cross section of the river and creating the situation for future disaster.

Earlier in the river bed, during the non monsoon period, agricultural farming used to take place. This was in no way harmful; because when the rivers ran full during the monsoons; it used to leave a coat of fertile silt on the farm beds and the greenery thus grown also acted as a lung for the city.  Now, the infrastructure developments on the river front, with Akshardham temple and games village coming up, will encourage others to encroach into the river and ultimately destroy the hydrological cycle of the city.

The matter is not closed, Jury is still out regarding the Sewage System and Garbage Handling. One would request the readers to read the earlier article in this journal to understand the issue. Please do so at the link below

Copyright Manohar Khushalani and Oct 4, 2021


  • Irrigation Practice and Design, (Volumes I, II,III, IV & V) K.B. Khushalani & Manohar Khushalani Pub; Oxford & IBH (Sponsored by National Book Trust)
  • Control of Urban Pollution Series:CUPS/ / 2003-2004, CPCB
  • City Development Plan , Department of Urban Development, Govt. of Delhi / IL&FS/October 2006,
  • Why is Delhi Water Logged It’s Drains and Sewers Clogged

Understanding Oxygen Concentrators

Everyone is talking about oxygen concentrators now. Most of us had not heard of them before. Many know about distillers which extract water from air, yet very few realised that even oxygen can be extracted from air. So what is an Oxygen Concentrator and how do you choose the right one?

The most important is to understand that Covid patients require 90% Oxygen concentration at 1to 5Litre flow and above to 10L

Tips on Selecting the right oxygen concentrator.

The most important is to understand Covid patients require 90% Oxygen concentration at 1to 5Litre flow and above to 10L when they are suffering with acute respiratory discomfort.

90% oxygen concentration is the most important point here.

  1. We can break down oxygen concentrator into small (5 to 10 kg) oxygen concentrator suitable for COPD patients, medium (15 to 19kg) and large (20kg and above) oxygen concentrators are suitable for critical care and for COVID patients.
  2. Small oxygen concentrators can have options from 1 Litre to 9 Litre Flow but this does not mean you get 90% oxygen at higher flow like at 5 litre. On small oxygen concentrators 90% oxygen contration is achieved only at lower flows of 1litre to 2 litre. on higher flows the oxygen concentration drops to 30% as you increase the flow. Suitable for COPD patients but not for COVID patients.
  3. Check the specs of the oxygen concentrator and if you see 90% – 30% or ( 1L/min , 2L/min) means 90% oxygen is available only at 1Litre flow or 2Litre flow respectively and on higher flows oxygen drops to 30%. The air we breathing is with 29% oxygen. So small (5kg to 10kg ) oxygen concentrator at higher flows gives output of 30% oxygen means its just blowing air.
  4. weight is the best indicator to understand the oxygen production capacity.

A 5kg to 10kg oxygen concentrator means a small compressor which will only mange to give an output of 90% oxygen at 1 litre to max 2 Litre

A 15kg to 19kg Oxygen Concentrator will have a compressor that can easily give an output of 90% oxygen at flows from 1 Litre to 5 Litre Oxygen (Ideal for COVID patients and critical care patients)

A 20 kg and above oxygen concentrator will have a large compressor which can give an output of 90% oxygen from 1Litre to 10Litre flow. (Ideal for COVID patients and critical care patients and for dual patients to use same machine with accessories)

Please do not only see the output flow of an oxygen concentrator like 5litre, 10litre or so. the most important is to make sure you get 90% Oxygen at highest flow level.

For a small family with no senior citizens a 5 litre at 90% oxygen concentration should be good enough.

For 2 senior citizens or for a big family 10 litre at 90% oxygen concentration should be good enough as it can support 2 patients at once if the need arises. And can assist senior citizens during home critical care if the need arises.

Please do not get fooled and pay big money for small oxygen concentrator sold by highlighting 5 Litre and 8 Litre and do not give an output of 90% concentration of oxygen at higher flows which is the need of the hour.

Please read the specs well and if required please ask your supplier to show you the oxygen output on an oxygen analyzer at higher flow of 5 Litre or 10 Litre.

they are suffering with acute respiratory discomfort.

90% oxygen concentration is the most important point here.

  1. We can break down oxygen concentrator into small (5 to 10 kg) oxygen concentrator suitable for COPD patients, medium (15 to 19kg) and large (20kg and above) oxygen concentrators are suitable for critical care and for COVID patients.
  2. Small oxygen concentrators can have options from 1 Litre to 9 Litre Flow but this does not mean you get 90% oxygen at higher flow like at 5 litre. On small oxygen concentrators 90% oxygen contration is achieved only at lower flows of 1litre to 2 litre. on higher flows the oxygen concentration drops to 30% as you increase the flow. Suitable for COPD patients but not for COVID patients.
  3. Check the specs of the oxygen concentrator and if you see 90% – 30% or ( 1L/min , 2L/min) means 90% oxygen is available only at 1Litre flow or 2Litre flow respectively and on higher flows oxygen drops to 30%. The air we breathing is with 29% oxygen. So small (5kg to 10kg ) oxygen concentrator at higher flows gives output of 30% oxygen means its just blowing air.
  4. weight is the best indicator to understand the oxygen production capacity.

A 5kg to 10kg oxygen concentrator means a small compressor which will only manage to give an output of 90% oxygen at 1 litre to max 2 Litre

A 15kg to 19kg Oxygen Concentrator will have a compressor that can easily give an output of 90% oxygen at flows from 1 Litre to 5 Litre Oxygen (Ideal for COVID patients and critical care patients)

A 20 kg and above oxygen concentrator will have a large compressor which can give an output of 90% oxygen from 1Litre to 10Litre flow. (Ideal for COVID patients and critical care patients and for dual patients to use same machine with accessories)

Flow Diagram of an Oxygen Concentrator
Courtesy: Oxygen Concentrator Store

Please do not only see the output flow of an oxygen concentrator like 5litre, 10litre or so. the most important is to make sure you get 90% Oxygen at highest flow level.

Block Diagram of an Oxygen Concentrator

For a small family with no senior citizens a 5 litre at 90% oxygen concentration should be good enough.

For 2 senior citizens or for a big family 10 litre at 90% oxygen concentration should be good enough as it can support 2 patients at once if the need arises. And can assist senior citizens during home critical care if the need arises.

Please do not get fooled and pay big money for small oxygen concentrators sold by highlighting 5 Litre and 8 Litre and do not give an output of 90% concentration of oxygen at higher flows which is the need of the hour.

Please read the specs well and if required please ask your supplier to show you the oxygen output on an oxygen analyzer at higher flow of 5 Litre or 10 Litre.

Also most importantly consult a doctor before you invest your hard earned money in the device. Right now, because of a shortage of oxygen supplies, the concentrators are overpriced. As soon as supply meets demand, the price of concentrators will come down.

Covid19 – Lessons Learnt From a Life Forgotten/ Neelam Jain

Life “is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” So said Shakespeare in Macbeth, a tragedy of epic proportion where the eponymous hero fell because of only one tragic flaw: “Vaulting ambition, which overleaps itself.”  Covid19 brought the “sound and fury, signifying nothing” part of Macbeth like a thunderbolt rolled onto an unsuspecting mankind. And Hamartia, or the tragic flaw, that Shakespeare’s tragic heroes had, has its echo in present times too. Covid19 lays bare our fault lines and exposes our flaws like never before. It has, in fact, come as a great teacher to mankind – perhaps because the ‘kind’ in “man” had shrunk to a miniscule level. It has given us a huge nudge to readjust our priorities that were slinking to abominable levels of putrid materialism.  Hmm…..looked closely, it also has been a period of wish-fulfillment, the collective wishes of entire mankind, or rather man-unkind, witnessing fruition of shared desires in a way unparalleled.

To further explain my points, let me take the first premise of collective wish fulfillment. Was the entire human race not clamoring for clearer skies, cleaner air and sparkling water? Millions of dollars were being spent on hosting international meets that often ended up revealing more dissensions than agreements. Each country blamed the other for being a greater polluter, never wanting to clean its own Augean stables. Year after year, there were foreboding studies that announced imminent doom of the planet if countries did not clean up the environmental mess. Countries met, they bickered and blamed each other, and dispersed.

Then, in one fell swoop all pollution abated….. people could not believe the blue of sky could actually be so inky blue and clear, and the air going into human lungs could be wholesome without causing the rasping cough and blocked sinuses. My family ate green leafy vegetables without fear of them being laced with industrial waste – the water hitherto being let out in the fields outside Delhi from where our produce comes.  How often have we wished for lesser congestion on roads. Traffic, everywhere had become a nightmare. Each time we were caught in serpentine traffic snarls, it was nostalgia time. “Oh, when I first came to Delhi more than 30 years ago this road was deserted, and it almost felt unsafe driving here late in the evening!” One lockdown, the beginning of a series of them, and you were transported back to the “good old days!” Maybe, the definition of “good” was no longer the same because now it was tinged with fear of the unknown, unseen, tiny virus that was keeping everyone indoors.

“Monday morning blues” was the litany of all working people. I remember beginning to feel the blues just when Sunday dawned. Why can’t weekends be longer, was the refrain echoed in all corners of the world – languages varied, refrain the same.  “Let all days be Sunday,” said the mighty voice. And we all huddled home every day, day after day. Beautiful day-planners lying on the desk were an investment most futile!!

Don’t blame any virus or any government for the pandemic…..all wishes are coming true. Is it self-fulfilling prophesy, or mere Ignis Fatuus!  Is it a passing phase, or the new world order is here to stay. Only time will tell.

One thing is for sure. The virus is not atemporal. It may either gradually die a natural death after peaking, or human intervention will see it rendered less menacing. Whatever it may be, but it surely will have taught us the much-needed and long-forgotten basic lessons before it exits.

First and foremost, Covid19 has added the fundamental Pause button to human race – race, both as noun and verb – the former defining the species, and the latter their feverish scurrying forth. I feel it has made us stop as the traffic light gradually turns red, so that we have time to reflect until it turns green and hence signal us to recalibrate our speed and direction.  We were all racing from morning until night, 24X7, in pursuit of something that was always outside our grasp.  Were we not all running away from life, looking for a meaning in a place it did not exist.  And now, staying within the confines of our homes we are learning to live with ourselves. Most friends and family I have spoken to have expressed how little we actually need in life and yet we carry the heaviest baggage. Our priorities had gone misplaced and it is time to set them right.  

What is of utmost importance is human life. This lesson, unfortunately, a deadly virus had to come and teach us. It has showed us that we need to value people and use things when we had been doing the reverse – Valuing things and using people. Time for some reverse-engineering. Time to smell the coffee!

People in lock-downs, living away from families learnt the value of a family, and those locked with their families are learning to share, care, and the biggest of all, to let-go. Sharing limited home space has strained many a family, for the virus leaves no option of quietly slipping away from home in case of any friction.  And therein lies the lesson of developing tolerance. “Love me when I deserve the least because that is when I need the most,” my friend’s recalcitrant teenager told his mother. Mighty lesson that is! Equally relevant for the youngster and his mother.

Role Reversal

A huge take-away of Covid19, and, undeniably the most important to my mind, is that of empathy towards all living beings. We feel caged and suffocated inside homes. Our freedom is gone. But we are safe. Juxtapose that with slaughter houses and abattoirs where animals and birds are crammed and squished together. They are caged, and they know they will soon be slaughtered. They live with the constant ordeal of impending death. Try to feel what trauma we are subjecting them to. If we want to break free and breathe freely, do we have any right to encage other living beings and then butcher them. All this merely to satisfy our taste buds. Yes, time to rethink our values.

“It would seem resourceful, perhaps wise, to use suffering as a vehicle of transformation that allows us to open ourselves with compassion to those who suffer as we do, or even more than we do”, said Matthieu Ricard in his book Happiness. Roman philosopher Seneca once said that “Suffering may hurt, but it is not an evil.” Schopenhauer, the German philosopher may have had similar belief when he said that suffering is the purifying process through which alone, in most cases, a person is consecrated.  Sure enough, no one wants suffering and all human endeavor is towards forswearing it. However, it can be argued that while suffering by its very nature is abhorrent but when unable to avoid, we can use it to learn and to change.

While we wait with bated breath for this Covid19 to pass, we can only forget the lessons it continues to teach us – both, at the physical level and at a deeper existential, philosophical level, at our own peril.  In the latter half of this century when it is well behind us, and human race has the wisdom of hindsight, Covid19 may seem to be the one game-changer humankind desperately needed for course correction.

I started writing this piece when we were, what is now known as the middle of Covid, or the first phas (It may be known differently sometime down the line) . As we are a cat’s whisker away from getting the vaccine, these disembodied times however seem  here to stay for a while. I’m quite inclined to close with Hafiz : “I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being!” So instead of taking a world trip, go inside yourself and find the true essence. Nice things, beautiful scenic places, gourmet food and all the pompous pursuits of men are a happy place to be in, but the joy they provide is never ever-lasting. It is transitory. The value of things is only the value we ascribe to them. As Vivekananda said: “Things are dead in themselves. We breathe life into them, and then we either run after them or run away from them.”

Covid-19 has provided a big insight into what really matters in the race we call Life. The Pause-button ought to make us reflect on where we were headed, and which direction we need to take. Almost a year into the pandemic, the self-importance of man dissolves in laughter. Life will never be easy. It will always be hard, but we can choose our hard wisely. Look to the light within, for the more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be.

Series’ Next “Surprise” -The Unexplored Mega Shear in Punatsangchhu-II Dam

– Another Dam Location That Too May Go / Have Gone / Could Have Gone Wrong Due To Unexplored Shear Zone Called “Geological Surprise”. Could This Shear Zone, If Went Unexposed, Have Repeated A Punatsangchhu-I ?

( Second of the incidences of a chain of massive surprises in the two Punatsangchhu Projects in Bhutan )

* Are All Geological Surprises, Logical Geo Surprises ?

In the series of strange coincidences of “geological surprises” , which  happened in the two mega hydroelectric projects named Punatsangchhu -I & Punatsangchhu-II H E Projects, under construction since 2009 -10 in Bhutan, the present case is of a suddenly encountered mega Shear Zone, which cuts across from heel to toe, the foundations of four dam blocks, in an effective width maximum of 30m and running in depth more than 13m. This surprise came despite the very dam site having been explored by the Consultants in the DPR ( unlike the case of Punatsangchhu-I dam where a mega shear zone was ‘surprisingly’ encountered supposedly because the dam site was not the one, which was studied by the Consultants in DPR).

  • The structural damage control seems to have been done with shear zone treatment , but at a great cost both in terms of the big time delay of more than one year and extra cost of Rs. 387 million, put to the Project in exploring the shear zone and treating it. However, the success of the Shear Zone treatment would be tested with time.

The Punatsangchhu-II  (PHEP-II),  a 1020 MW project with a new approved project cost of Rs. 72900 millions ( US $ 1.04 billions), possibly to be further escalating to Rs. 75000 millions ( US $ 1.07 billions), with already incurred cost of about Rs. 65880 millions is delayed for two reasons. Firstly the delay of more than one year was caused because the Dam foundations had  encountered, a that far unexplored, mega shear of maximum 30m width, which cut across the length of the 4 dam blocks diagonally, traversing from heel to toe. The shear zone with its 35ᵒ to 45ᵒ dip, continued under the foundations to large depths. Secondly, a further delay of four years, so far, in implementation of the Power House Complex, has already crept in due to the huge rock mass failure which happened in its underground Downstream Surge Gallery (DSSG), resulting in formation of a huge cavity of about 91m height x 70m length and 45m width in the crown of the DSSG.           

Occurrence of too many geological surprises, which were blamed for the big mishaps in the two mega Projects Punatsangchhu – I & II ,intrigues one to investigate if ‘ harping on the geological surprises‘ was only a scapegoat for the lack of proper geological investigations done by the Consultants and inappropriate design of rock support measures done by the Designers, who were same for both the Projects.

The Case of  Mega Shear Encountered In PHEP-II Dam Foundations

1. Geology at Dam Site :

Geologically, the area at the dam site exposes variety of gneissic rocks such as quartzo-feldspathic biotite gneiss, banded gneiss, augen gneiss, and thin seams or bands of biotite schist. These rocks are intruded by leucogranite and pegmatite. The right bank is comparatively steeper and occupied by well exposed rock outcrop. Whereas the left bank is largely occupied by overburden consisting of talus and thick slide debris with some rock outcrop exposed at higher reaches. On the left bank foliation trend varies from N-S/400E to N700E-S700W/150SE whereas on the right bank it varies from N800W-S800E-320/S100W to N500E-S500W/300-350 S400E. This swing in foliation is due to warping in the rock. However the general trend of the foliation is N600-700E to S600-700W/300SE. The rocks are moderately to highly jointed, traversed by four to five prominent joint sets and shear zones up to 50cm thick. In general the foliation is dipping into hill side; indicates an anti-formal structure.

2. Geological Investigations at ‘Detailed Project Report’ Stage Failed To Detect   The Major Shear Zone In Dam Foundations

In the DPR stage, in the geological investigations carried out by the Consultants,  a total of 11 nos. of holes were drilled at the proposed dam location for ascertaining the rock-overburden contact and depth of fresh rock for deciding the foundation level of various blocks. On the basis of these DPR stage drill core examination, the deepest foundation was proposed at EL 760.0m by the Consultants in the DPR. No major Shear Zone were detected to be present at dam site as per DPR stage explorations and geological investigations done by the Consultants (See Fig. -1).

Geological Section At DPR Stage – Shows No Shear Zone Under Dam Foundations
Fig. – 1
3. Geological Investigations At Construction Stage :

Weak features were encountered during dam excavation /stripping of the left bank, which were not reported in the DPR stage investigations done by the Consultants.  Actual rock profile at EL 825.0m, in the Left bank was found shifted by 14.5m towards hill side from that suggested by DPR stage investigations .

In view of this discrepancy a detailed investigation was felt required to be done to ascertain the sound foundation grade rock and to also decide stripping limit. Subsequently, during construction stage, keeping in view the change in anticipated rock slope profile, 12 nos. of drill holes ( See Fig.-3) were drilled at EL 825m to reconfirm the rock overburden contact and foundation grade rock at the dam bloc nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 located near the left abutment. As the fresh rock was encountered at higher level as compared to DPR stage investigations, the of block nos. 4, 5, 6, and 7 have been founded at EL 765.0m, instead of at EL 760.0m.

            During these construction stage exploratory drilling, on the left abutment, weak rock mass zone with sandy horizon encountered in the DH-10 and 12 ( See Fig. 3). From the drill core logging it had been interpreted that sand and crushed rock pocket exists from EL 763.4m to El 759.40m, however that time direction and inclination could not be confirmed.

The drill holes in the river bed area established to have a maximum depth of fluvial fill material/overburden of 52.50m (DH-9: located in block no. 5, 35m d/s of dam axis). The maximum depth of the quaternary alluvium/overburden in the river valley under the dam axis is 45.60m (DH-14: located in block no. 3, at dam axis).

            General level of the exposed bedrock in the overflow dam section varied from EL 765.0m in dam block no. 4 to EL 755.0m in main dam pit (block nos. 8, 9, 10). The rocks exposed at the foundation grade comprised predominantly quartzo-feldspathic-biotite gneiss, biotite gneiss, and leucogranite. These were intruded by veins of leucogranite, quartz and pegmatite. The foundation rocks were traversed by a number of shear seams and most of them were of short continuity and restricted to a single dam block.

* Still no major Shear Zone was detected in this detailed geological investigations done by the Consultants during excavation of dam pit.
4. Additional Geological Exploratory Drilling Necessitated Yet Again During Further Dam Excavation

As mentioned above, 12 nos. of holes were drilled during excavation stage  in view of the discrepancy observed against the DPR investigations.  A  4.0m thick sand pocket was found resting over highly fractured and crushed rock mass near proposed joint of block nos. 5 & 6 when had been probed during drilling of hole nos. 10 & 12 at RD 87.0m & CH 16.0m & 27.0m respectively below proposed block joint of 5 & 6. Considerable water loss was observed during drilling and sand was first appeared at EL 763.0m during drilling hole no. 10 and continued up to EL 758.5m. The rock strata encountered immediately below sand deposit was found highly fractured and crushed up to the EL 749.90m. The same sand deposit was further reconfirmed through hole no. 12 drilled at RD 87.0m & CH 24.0m downstream where it is appeared from EL 760.27m to EL 758.77m, resting over highly fractured and crushed rock mass up to EL 755.77m. In view of uneven bed rock profile four drill holes were carried out to decipher the sound foundation grade rock below the EL 822.0m and on the basis of interpretation of borehole core logs, the dam block no. 1 was lowered up to EL 795.0m (instead of EL 825.0m) and block no. 2 rested at EL 785.0m (instead of 798.0m).

Subsequently, during further progress of excavation on left bank of dam being done concurrent to drilling of above mentioned additional four holes, a shear zone (550-600 / N0700 to 0900, affected zone varies from 3.5m to 5.6m, Clay gauge >20cm, with crushed/fractured rock mass) encountered askew to the river flowing direction passing from u/s to d/s (heal to toe of the dam).

The Shear zone was encountered in all these additional four drill holes at different depth with variable thickness.

5. Investigations, delineation and interpretation of the Shear Zone

With the progressive excavation, when the excavation in block no. 6 & part of block nos. 5 & 7 excavation (EL ~765.50m) was in progress the major shear/weak zone was encountered in all these blocks.

Sub-surface investigation was done  through those additional four boreholes, mentioned earlier above (DH-13 to DH-16), with total depth of 187.0m, drilled  on the dam site (dam foundation blocks 4, 5, 6 and block joint of 5 & 6), to ascertain the thickness, depth and behaviour of the shear zone. Frequent change in attitude of shear zone, was observed. 

Layout Plan of Exploratory Holes in Dam Area
Blue Points – DPR Stage Holes, Red Points – Construction Stage Holes,
Green Points – Additional Holes Done in Construction Stage for Delineation of Shear Zone
Fig. – 2

Shear zone with varying thickness of clay gouge material and affected zone  (approximately 3.5m to 6.5m) was encountered in the main dam pit area in the block no. 8 (at EL ~755.0m: near toe of dam body) and in the inclined foundation of the dam block no. 7 (below EL 765.0m) and below dam block nos. 5 & 6.

Shear ZoneDrill Core Log Abstracts For DH13, DH14, DH15 & DH16
Fig. – 3

Geological Section Along Dam Axis Showing the Orientation Of The Mega Shear Zone Intercepted In Additional Holes Done During Excavation In Blocks 5,6 & 7
Fig. – 4

The encountered rock mass, in the drill holes, comprises predominantly quartzo-feldspathic-biotite-gneiss (QFBG), biotite gneiss, leucogranite with bands of biotite schist of variable thickness. At places the rock mass is intruded by thin veins/patches of pegmatite. Shear material mainly comprises highly pulverized rock mass, granular rock flour, fractured rock mass, clay gouge with slush, and broken rock fragments.

The drill core logging revealed that the shear zone depth varies from 3.1m to 11.22m and affected/fractured rock mass zone below the shear zone varies from 6.0m to 20.0m in depth.

The shear zone is traversing from dam heal (block no. 5), dam centre (block no.6) to dam toe (block no. 7) having curvilinear nature, however, it is encroaching in block no. 4 by ±1.0m near RD 73.0m in a limited area; between CH ±18.69m and CH ±20.0m at EL 765.0m and in block no. 8 d/s portion it is intersecting between CH 97.0m and CH.102m at El 755.0m. The general trend of shear is 350-420/N 0700 to 0800.

Geological Plan Of The Mega Shear Zone That Cuts From Heel To Toe Across Dam Blocks 5,6,7 & 8
Fig. – 5

 However, there is variation in the shear’s attitude due to warping of foliation and its curvilinear nature. In the block no. 5 the thickness of shear zone (including fracture zones and affected zones) at the dam axis is 13.97m whereas, in the u/s part of the dam (near CH ±20.0m) it is 14.19m thick. Sheared material comprises moist clay gouge (0.5m to 1.0m thick), rock flour, crushed/fractured rock, fragmented rock pieces and intermittently hard patches of parent rock (no strain zones). The affected zone varies from 4.0m to 30.0m.

The foundation surface in the mapped area is undulatory due to intersection of different joint sets and formation of wedges. The geological mapping revealed that the mega shear zone is bounded by two shear zones (SZ-1, forming left side boundary, having clay gouge thickness 5cm -20cm and SZ-2, forming right side boundary, having clay gouge thickness 8cm – 100cm) passing through block nos. 5, 6 and 7 from upstream to downstream direction, dipping into left abutment side, and having variable thickness.

Infilling material of this weak zone comprises crushed rock mixed with minor clay and at places small lenses/chunk of QFG. The width of this zone varies from ±7m, at u/s side near dam axis, to ±2m at d/s side. The attitude of its two boundaries i.e. SZ-1 (200-550/N0700-1000) and SZ-2 (200-550/N0500-1100 also vary from u/s direction to d/s direction at different places. Besides, major shear there are 13 nos. shear seams were recorded during foundation grade mapping.

Geological Sections Depicting Varying Attitude Of Shear Zone In Different Dam Blocks
at Dam Axis and at Ch. 40m, 60m and 80m D/S of Dam Axis
Fig. – 6

Photographs of Shear Zone
Highly Pulverized rock mass, granularrock flour, fractured rock mass, clay gouge with slush and broken rock fragments
Sheared material comprise moist clay gouge ( 0.5m to 1.0m thick), rock flour, crushed/ fractured rock, fragmented rock pieces and intermittently hard patches of parent rock
6. Treatment of the Shear zone

Finally, a 125.0m long, 5.0-35.0m wide and 13.0-15.0m deep shear trench was made in order to treat the shear. The field observation suggests that this shear is a discrete fracture between blocks of rock containing several parallel or anatomizing(i.e. branching and reconnecting) shears particularly at the toe of dam body near dam block nos. 7 & 8 and may have formed in brittle ductile regime.

Cross Section at Dam Axis Showing Trench Cut In The Shear Zone
Fig. – 7
Geological map of the Shear Trench Floor
Fig. – 8

Photographs of Shear zone trench excavation
Shear Trench And Rock Anchors Provided in Trench Walls
Typical Drawing of 13m Thick RCC Raft Plug With 6 Layers of Reinforcement
Fig. – 9

RCC Plug in Shear Zone Showing Top Layer of Reinforcement Before Concreting
* The Shear Zone though has been replaced in its depth of 13m by RCC Plug, its performance with time would need to be watched.

The consultants had failed to detect  and delineate  the Mega Shear Zone in the  Geological Investigations which formed the basis of selection of the respective Dam Sites,  in both the cases of Punatsangchhu-I and Punatsangchhu-II HE Projects.  In the case of Punatsangchhu-I a major slide of right bank on the shear zone  has halted the dam construction by 7 years as of present. In the case of Punatsangchhu – II, the detection, delineation and treatment of the shear zone delayed the dam construction by more than a year. The treatment and strengthening of shear zone in both cases has made huge time and cost over run in the Projects.

The excavation of the Shear Zone involved excavation of 43 million cubic metres in sheared rock/ fractured rock mass. The Shear Zone trench was refilled by M25 grade and M20 grade of cement concrete provided with 2200 MT of 32mm dia. steel reinforcement . The consolidation grouting done through combination of Multi Stage and Single Stage grouting in the shear zone area, as per my information, consumed 8 bags of cement per hole, thus aggregating to total consumption of 9297 number of cement bags. The grout acceptance experience in the affected area after excavation of the Shear Trench gives an indication of the clay content in the fractured rock material present under the shear zone. The Shear Zone treatment has costed Rs. 387 million and more than a years delay to the Project.
The Shear Zone was missed by the Consultants in the drill holes no. DH5, DH9, DH10 , DH 12 and DH22 which were done in the Dam Block no. 5 at DPR stage and later in initial construction stage, despite their location being almost the same as that of additional four holes DH13, DH14, DH15 & DH16 in which the Shear Zone was intercepted at the end during excavation at the behest of Project Geologist and Project Engineering and Construction Agency team.

The massive Shear Zone had been finally detected and treated.

* However, the debatable point is that if the presence of this massive Shear Zone of that great a size , which affected foundations of four numbers of dam blocks from heel to toe, in a maximum width of 30m and depth more than 13m , had been detected at DPR stage, then, should this very site been preferred as dam site ?

* In case the answer is NO, then whether construction of the dam here at this site is a compromise of a sort ?

The detailed paper co-authored by me “Delineation and treatment of Mega shear zone in the main dam foundation : A case study of Punatsangchhu HEP-II, Bhutan” was selected for 26th ICOLD Congress” held in July on 1-7-2018 at Vienna, Austria.  The Paper was also selected for oral presentation. 

( Second of the incidences of a chain of massive surprises in the two Punatsangchhu Projects in Bhutan )

LokSabhaTV- Nirmala Sitharaman- Budget Provisions for Jal Shakti

Nirmala Sitharaman
IIITD Student B.Tech Project. BTP Supervisor: Prof. Manohar Khushalani BTP Students: Sejal Kumar / Aysha Fazilath / Rahul Patwardhan / Vyshakh Dharan

A Panel Discussion was held on Lok Sabha TV at 1 PM and 4 PM on the 24th of January 2020 to discuss provisions for Water in Ms. Nirmala Sitaraman’s Budget Session in Lok Sabha due on 1st February. The Program was anchored by Parakram Singh Shekhawat. The panelists were Arun Tiwari, Manohar Khushalani and Himanshu Thakkar. They all went into their expectations from the budget with respect to Budget Provisions for Jal Shakti – Water. 

The anchor began the discussion with a small introduction of the Ministry of water resources (Jal Shakti Mantraley), Mr. Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the troubled state of water quality and availability through the country, and its ever arising complications. Mr. Arun Tiwari elaborated on our lack of efforts in successfully harvesting rainwater and sustaining groundwater levels, highlighting the lack of regulations surrounding these harvesting methods. The importance of sustainability was highlighted as well unless groundwater is recharged, regulated and the focus needs to be shifted to Sustainability. 

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Ministry of Water Resources and Ganga Rejuvenation have been merged into the Jal Shakti Ministry under the second term of the Modi government and the Jal Shakti Ministry was allocated Rs 28,261 Crore, an 8% increase. A 10 pointer vision for the next decade was listed out by the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. She elaborated that the Jal Shakti Ministry will manage the country’s water resources and water supply in an integrated holistic manner, and will work towards supplying all rural households with water supply by 2024. In the LSTV discussion, Manohar brought forward a set of important points such as the minimal increase in the budget allocated, the unsanitary sewage system, and lack of stormwater drains. He also insisted that along with budget allocation, our national lakes need to be taken care of efficiently and resurrected, and the need for the development of rural handicrafts and the need for a River Basin Authority, for the systematic distribution of water. 

The Atal Bhujal Yojna, is a scheme, also known as ‘Atal Jal’ will promote panchayat-led groundwater management and behavioral change with a primary focus on demand-side management. The scheme is aimed at

  • doubling farmers’ incomes,
  • promoting participatory groundwater management,
  • improving water use efficiency on a mass scale,
  • improving cropping pattern and
  • promoting efficient and equitable use of groundwater resources and
  • behavioral change at the community level.

Official estimates state that over INR 9 crores (90 million) toilets were constructed from 2014 when the Swacch Bharat Mission was launched under the Modi government as one of its flagship schemes. Yet, a government survey in 2017 showed that 6 out of 10 toilets built under the Swacch Bharat Mission did not have water supply, and were hence unusable.

The chemical fertilizer farming is allocated INR 80,000crores, while the green revolution farmers are allotted INR12,000crores but the Organic manure farming is allocated only INR 2 Crore, Manohar Khushalani pointed out, the obvious lack of financial support to organic farmers led to Cancer and other diseases in the cities of Punjab and Harayana, he insisted on the importance of WaterShed Management, an initiative taken by Anna Hazare previously. 

The discussion shed light upon various important aspects of Budget allocation for water conservation and also examined the various areas where more efforts are required for sustainability.

You can watch the informative debate here.

You will find more details on the next debate on LSTV on the topic of Atal Bhujal Yojna, Please find the entire debate here.

A playlist of interesting panel discussions on conservation of Water.

Dirty Water in Delhi

B.Tech Project. BTP Supervisor: Prof. Manohar Khushalani

According to the 2018 NITI Aayog Report, Delhi is among 21 Indian cities that is poised to run out of groundwater by 2020. It has also been reported that Delhi has been drawing 25 percent more groundwater than the natural recharge rate. Though it is the job of Central Ground Water to stop the exploitation of groundwater, their actions have not been effective. 60 percent of the water supplied by Delhi Jal Board comes from the Yamuna, around 34 percent from Ganga, and the rest is from groundwater. Yamuna river, the major provider of the city’s drinking water, runs heavy with pollutants and is thick with toxic waste and it becomes toxic because of all the sewage that is dumped into the river.

Manohar Khushalani, Rajeev Babar, Kuldeep Kumar and Sanjeev Kaushik were the four panelists invited for this discussion, for an expert opinion, on the dirty water problem faced in Delhi. This video gives an insight into the perspective of the general public and how they’re facing this problem.

TV9 has conducted surveys in 8 parts of Delhi, namely, Laxmi Nagar, Sangam Vihar, Chandni Chowk, Lajpat Nagar, Pitampura, New Delhi, Narela, and Yamuna Vihar. During this survey, they have asked people about their opinions on a few questions about the water and air pollution in Delhi. More details on this is given below.

They had also collected water samples from these areas and gave it for testing. After the results came out, they found out that all the samples that were collected from the 8 parts of Delhi which were surveyed had contaminated and undrinkable water.

Questions asked by TV9 to general public:

Is the water that you receive dirty or unfit for drinking?

Yes No Don’t Know
Laxmi Nagar 80% 7.5% 12.5%
Sangam Vihar 75% 15% 10%
Chandni Chowk 80% 15% 5%
Lajpat Nagar 80% 16% 4%
Pitampura 57.5% 35% 7.5%
New Delhi 90% 5% 5%
Narela 92.5% 5% 2.5%
Yamuna Vihar 45% 40% 15%

This means that on an average, 75 percent of the people said yes, that the water they receive is unfit for drinking, 17.3 percent said no, the water they receive is fine and the rest of 7.7 percent said they’re not sure.

Does the dirty water make your family fall ill?

Yes No Don’t Know
Laxmi Nagar 75% 7.5% 17.5%
Sangam Vihar 82.5% 12.5% 5%
Chandni Chowk 72.5% 10% 17.5%
Lajpat Nagar 70% 20% 10%
Pitampura 55% 40% 5%
New Delhi 90% 7.5% 2.5%
Narela 95% 2.5% 2.5%
Yamuna Vihar 50% 47.5% 2.5%

This means that on average 73.8 percent of the people said that yes, the dirty water makes some of the family members fall sick, 18.4 percent said no, it doesn’t make them fall sick, and the rest 7.8 percent said they’re not sure.

Do you want to leave Delhi because of the water and air pollution?

Yes No Don’t Know
Laxmi Nagar 52.5% 42.5% 5%
Sangam Vihar 75% 17.5% 7.5%
Chandni Chowk 70% 25% 5%
Lajpat Nagar 60% 36% 4%
Pitampura 32.5% 65% 2.5%
New Delhi 55% 32.5% 12.5%
Narela 70% 7.5% 20%
Yamuna Vihar 37.5% 47.5% 15%

This means that on an average, 57 percent of the people said yes, they want to leave Delhi, 34.1 percent said no, they’d like to stay there itself and 8.9 percent of the people said they’re not sure.

Do you feel the air in your locality is still polluted and it’s becoming hard to breathe?

Yes No Don’t Know
Laxmi Nagar 82.5% 15% 2.5%
Sangam Vihar 80% 15% 10%
Chandni Chowk 85% 10% 5%
Lajpat Nagar 68% 30% 2%
Pitampura 82.5% 12.5% 5%
New Delhi 92.5% 2.5% 5%
Narela 90% 2.5% 7.5%
Yamuna Vihar 87.5% 7.5% 5%

This means that on an average, 83.5 percent of the people said yes, they feel the air is polluted and it is becoming hard to breathe, 11.8 percent said no, they do not find it hard to breathe and the rest 4.7 percent said they’re not sure.

BTP Students: Sejal Kumar, Aysha Fazilath, Vyshakh Dharan, Rahul Patwardhan

Chennai Water Crisis: Day Zero

B.Tech Project. BTP Supervisor: Manohar Khushalani
BTP Students: Sejal Kumar, Aysha Fazilath, Vyshakh Dharan, Rahul Patwardhan

NDTV 24×7 conducted a live debate on 18th June 2019 from 8.30 to 9 pm. The Program was titled Reality Check. It was anchored by Vishnu Som. The panelists in the discussion were S Muralidharan, Prof. Manohar Khushalani and TKS Elangovan.

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NDTV has conducted a survey in chennai asking the general public about various problems that they are facing related to water. The residents then told the channel that they have to wait for hours in line to collect some water for every 2 days. Some of them even said that they don’t get enough water to bath. 

According to a london-based risk analytics firm, Chennai is facing “the most extreme risk” of water stress and that this situation could be the new normal for millions of people.  Chennai, he said, gets an average of 54 days of rain per year, yielding an average rainfall of about 140 centimeters (55 inches). Its failure to collect the rain that falls, especially during poor monsoons such as that of last autumn, leads to what he called a “man-made” crisis of scarcity. Less than four years ago, Chennai saw devastating floods that took at least 422 lives in Tamil Nadu and caused up to $14 billion in damages. But most of that rainwater flowed into the sea, lost forever to Chennai’s parched groundwater reserves. As the coastal city anticipates its upcoming autumn monsoon season, residents and experts have criticized authorities for failing to rehabilitate a notoriously mismanaged water supply.

Unless we capture the rain that falls in those monsoon days, we will run out of water

Manohar Khushalani stated that the big factors that have led to this crisis in Tamil Nadu are deforestation and mining, in other words construction of buildings for development is in the process.. These types of constructions have halted the recharge of lakes and reservoirs that  supply water to the households, and since the recharge has stopped, the major lakes and reservoirs have gone completely dry. Even the amount of rainfall has been declining and that amount was not enough to recharge the lakes.

Water tankers are being called into most of the areas of Tamil Nadu which are facing drought. However, government tankers can take up to a month to appear after requested, so some families, wealthy residents, and business owners have opted to pay for costly private water tankers. The poor who live in slums do not have this option; a family in Chennai’s slums may receive as little as 30 litres (7.9 US gallons) of water every day compared to an average American household which uses 1,150 litres (300 US gallons) of water a day.

S Muralidharan mentioned the fact that Tamil Nadu contains 6 percent of India’s population and it covers 4 percent of India’s land area but still the state only receives 2-2.5 percent of the water provided. This tells that Tamil Nadu has already become a dry state and is facing water crisis currently.

What steps have been taken to improve the situation?

The Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewage Board, which is responsible for the city’s water supply, has pushed for lakes to be desilted, allowing them to be used for water storage. The state government said in response it has begun to set up 270 water purification centers and has recently begun construction on Chennai’s third desalination plant, after which the government said the city will no longer have to rely on monsoon rains.

Under former Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa, who served in the role for over 14 years, Chennai made rainwater harvesting compulsory, requiring every building to install a water catchment system on its rooftop and pour the collected rainwater into the ground. However, when a survey was conducted regarding this, only 40 percent of the buildings were found to be complying with this law. The following three years brought heavy rains and, he said, dramatically raised the groundwater level, filling dry open wells for the first time in decades. Though the 40 percent compliance rate was a good start, it wasn’t good enough for the state to come out of the water crisis.

The city already has two desalination plants with capacity of 210 million litres a day that service the northern suburbs. A third 150 million litre plant costing nearly Rs 1300 crore would be ready next year. 2 new recycling plants are also being built which will have a capacity of 120 million litres a day. This will free up domestic drinking water supplies and reduce the reliance on the already stressed ground water resources.

Watch More Programs on this Subject by clicking on the playlist below:

WhatsUp In the Name of Ganges? asks Manohar Khushalani / News24

IIITD Student B.Tech Project. BTP Supervisor: Prof. Manohar Khushalani

Prof. Manohar Khushalani with co-panelists Mahamandaleshwar Martand Puri and Mr. Rajya Sarai discusses the issue of cleaning Ganga on a live program conducted by News24.

Cleaning of the life-giving river Ganga has been a hot topic for so long, that it doesn’t even surprise anymore. With thousands of crores been spent on achieving this goal, we also lost Prof. G.D. Agrawal, a.k.a Swami Sanand, our Ganga Putra who lost his life trying to fight for it. For 111 days he sent letters to the government to clean the river, stop the construction of dams on it and make better rules and regulations but was left answered and his health deteriorated. 

The idea of eco-flow has been accepted by the government and as soon as it gets implemented, Prof. G.D. Agarwal will get his much-deserved homage, pointed Sarai. He also adds that his heart-attack must be investigated as it could be the result of feeding him some kind of slow poison and not the hunger strike. 

Ganga Action Plan was made in 1886 and no positive effect has been witnessed since then. Khushalani adds that we don’t lack the idea of how to improve the situation, but the approach towards achieving the goal should be honest.  

Ganga is not just a river but the soul of India, and today its a matter of shame for Indians says Martand Puri Ji. He adds that politics only cares about votes and the parties only ask for votes in the name of Ganga. He also demands that polluting Ganga should be considered National Crime if people call Ganga our National River.

After this, general people listening to this discussion were asked to give their views. Some say that the government has been deaf to the messages of people. Others say that people are also equally at fault and they need to work with the government. Some also demand a clear cut detailed declaration of where the budget money was used as they feel it might have been embezzled. 

The feeling of national responsibility is dying day by day. It has been over 30 years, many plans like Ganga Action Plan, Ganga Safai Yojana, Namami Gange, etc under a budget of more than thousands of crores were initiated and the problem remains the same. According to the Supreme Court, if this is the pace at which the situation is handled, it will take more approximately 200 years to clean Ganga. It’s the collective responsibility of the citizens and the government to save our National River. 

For more detailed visit the link :

BTP Students: Sejal Kumar / Aysha Fazilath / Rahul Patwardhan / Vyshakh Dharan