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 )




Dirty Water in Delhi

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

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.




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.

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.




5 ki panchayat – क्या गंगा के नाम पर सिर्फ दिखावा हो रहा है ?

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

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. 

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

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 : https://youtu.be/GW11GwXHSpI




Devastating flood in Kerala 2018

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

Prof. Manohar Khushalani was one of the panelists who appeared Live on Lok Sabha TV in the program Insight on Monday the 20th of August,2018. The program is on the devastating Kerala Floods which set the state reeling. True to its name, the program gives you an insight into what caused the floods and what can be done to prevent such a mishap from happening again. Also, Kamal Kishore, Director from NDMA explains how they conducted rescues of people stranded by the deluge and a Senior Journalist from Kerala gives the ground report. A must watch program, if you care about the globe, and are worried about what condition we will leave it in, for the next generation.

A 2.5 fold rainfall was witnessed in Kerala as compared to the normal rainfall in 2018 leading to the Kerala Deluge, a situation that wasn’t witnessed in around the past 100 years. Co-panelist Kamal Kishore, a member of NDMA mentions that the NDRF deployment and the system created in the last decade were proved effective and the response according to the scale of the situation was very good.

However, more than 400 people died and more than 7 lakh people were affected by the disaster. Due to lack of warning system, and the way in which people live i.e. alongside the river resulted in this number of loss of lives.

Khushalani adds that the opening of dams is important after the water has reached a maximum level for preventing bigger disasters. So the decision is taken regarding the opening of dams which caused the floods had to be taken. The Idukki dam was opened after 21 years and hence it was tough to predict that such a huge amount of water will flow through it.

Kerala is yet to implement recommendations of the Gadgil Committee on conservation of the Western Ghats, which was submitted in August 2011. The Gadgil Committee was set up by the Centre in 2010 over concerns that human intervention was changing the face of the Western Ghats, the mountain range responsible for breaking down cloud formations and dissipating rainfall. The broader contours of the Western Ghats span across Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Goa, and Gujarat. Many political parties had protested against the report on the grounds that it was excessively environment-friendly, and not in tune with the ground
realities.

Injudicious use of land is responsible for making some regions more prone to floods and landslides. Incursions into catchment areas of rivers that have dried up and mountainous areas are also one of the reasons. Most affected cities were built or have been expanded on leveled farmlands, blocking the normal waterways. Resorts are built on hilltops and skyscrapers are built on the banks of rivers and lakes. Take the current flooding in Kalady, the buildings which are inundated with floodwaters were built on farmlands.

Dam safety plans are necessary to tackle such situations. India is not behind any country when it comes to the technology of construction and management of dams. Dams can be increased to handle such disasters in a better way. However, disasters like these that occur once in a hundred years are usually very hard to deal with. In such a scenario the best measure is to control the problem locally and train people to handle the situation the best way possible.

For more information visit the link : https://youtu.be/2xe6RAAr_oU




बिन पानी सब सून – How to tackle the water crisis?

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

Channel One’s half-hour program where Prof. Manohar Khushalani elaborated on how to tackle the water crisis in Delhi in a holistic fashion. Recorded in Channel One Studio in Noida, UP in May 2013

With the rising temperatures in Delhi, the need and demand for water are also rising. The water supply in the capital is becoming worse day by day. Even after multiple promises made by the government, the pressing issue still remains and is in fact growing.

There are many ways in which the situation can be tackled but planning is required. The demand and supply have to be met. The amount of groundwater used is currently more than what is being percolated back. Most of Delhi is located on a hill and groundwater has a little to no existence there. Even the villages where water used to be abundant have very less water now.

Delhi Jal Board has introduced a GPS tracking system for the tankers to prevent stealing and black marketing. The government is also working on directing the water in the right canals which will increase the percentage of water that can be used. The system has been made but even after multiple complaints and requests, there’s no action being taken regularly.

Prof. Manohar Khushalani adds some solutions to the problems. He states that the water level was high years back even when Delhi was a hilly area. So there might have been some mis-management behind the issue at hand today.

Sewage treatment is also very necessary because otherwise rivers get polluted by the sewage. Sewage farms have been replaced by construction building. Dilution of water has become impossible after people started covering the gutters. These stormwater drains have been made by using public tax money and no one has the right to block them. A formal penalty will be the best solution to this problem.

The calls received in the panel discussion shows how people are frustrated with the situation. They usually get dirty water, which happens because the mainline gets mixed with the sewage line. One caller suggests that an RO system or any water-purifier system can be used in a locality. Jal Board needs to make sure that the voices of people are heard so that better decisions can be made in regards to providing clean water.

For more details visit the following link : https://youtu.be/ppQ-9nAdu70




Delhi Odd-Even Scheme

IIITD Student B.Tech Project. BTP Supervisor: Prof. Manohar Khushalani
BTP Students: Sejal Kumar / Aysha Fazilath / Rahul Patwardhan / Vyshakh Dharan
Video Input: Utsav Rohilla / Nitin Yadav / Aditya Diundi

The OneVorld video explains a scheme started by the Delhi state government to curb rising air pollution levels in Delhi.

Odd-Even Scheme: Drivers of the private vehicles may be allowed to drive, park or purchase gasoline on alternating days, according to whether the last digit on their license plate is even or odd.

AIM: The scheme aimed to reduce pollution and smog in Delhi

Phases of Odd-Even: The scheme was implemented from January 1, 2016. Re-implemented for the third time on November 11, 2019.

Results

  1. Less traffic pollution
  2. Less road congestion
  3. Increase average car speed
  4. Less fuel usage
  5. Increase public awareness

LEARNING: Start using public transport and car-pooling.

Save Delhi from pollution. ACT TODAY!




Air Pollution in Delhi

IIITD Student B.Tech Project. BTP Supervisor: Prof. Manohar Khushalani
BTP Students: Sejal Kumar / Aysha Fazilath / Rahul Patwardhan / Vyshakh Dharan
Video Input: Utsav Rohilla / Nitin Yadav / Aditya Diundi

Air Pollution has always been a major concern in the Delhi NCR region. The air quality in Delhi is the worst of all the cities in the world. In general, vehicle pollution and overpopulation are one of the main reasons for the pollution problem in Delhi. Political corruption and lack of will of the political parties is also one of the main causes of pollution.

The reason for the sudden rise in pollution is due to various factors like crop burning, cold weather, and firecrackers. The poor air quality of Delhi has adverse effects on the people of Delhi. According to Wikipedia, 2.2 million children have irreversible lung damage. Also, air pollution can lower children’s immune systems making them prone to disease.

This OneVorld video gives us more insight on the same.




Plastic Alternatives

IIITD Student B.Tech Project. BTP Supervisor: Prof. Manohar Khushalani
BTP Students: Sejal Kumar / Aysha Fazilath / Rahul Patwardhan / Vyshakh Dharan
Video Input: Utsav Rohilla / Nitin Yadav / Aditya Diundi

This OneVorld Video explains some steps we can take to minimize plastic on our planet which is an ever-increasing problem nowadays. All of us can contribute a little towards our fight against plastic and opt for plastic alternatives to not just minimize plastic but to reuse it so that more addition of plastic in our environment can be stopped.

Plastic, a horrible yet extremely useful invention for mankind has now become a significant part of our lives. We are all aware of it’s ill-effects and can do our part to protect the environment from it.

So what should we do ?

Well, there are some small things we can do or should I say small things everyone SHOULD do?

One of the first things we do after waking up is brushing our teeth, which we usually do with our plastic toothbrushes. After some time they become useless and we have to throw them away. It creates a lot of non-biodegradable waste. In this case, we can use bamboo toothbrushes which are usually made up of natural materials like bamboo and charcoal. So they are far more accessible to dispose of than regular toothbrushes.

EXTRA TIP: We can also learn how to make toothpaste at home so that toothpaste tube waste can also be decreased.

Coming up next are the food containers. It’s harmful to store food in plastic containers because a lot of them release harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates. But a lot of people still use them because they are cheap and easy to use. But life is more valuable than anything else. That’s why we should use better alternatives than plastic containers. Stainless steel glass and silicon containers are very reliable in this case and they are easy to dispose of too.

EXTRA TIP: For dry food like bread and chapatis, cloth food containers are very useful

Moving on, the one form in which plastic is used the most is carry bags and waste produced by them is enormous. But the good thing is they have a lot of alternatives too. Paper, cotton and canvas bags are good alternatives of such bags. They are extremely reusable too.

EXTRA TIP: We should try to reuse the polybags we already have.

Our earth is a beautiful planet and it’s really sad that we are the ones destroying it. It is our responsibility to protect it. Everyone should do their part even if it’s too small!