Anticipating widespread dissidence after the announcement of its list of candidates in Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party has begun a massive exercise to pre-empt a possible surge of anti-party sentiment by unsuccessful ticket aspirants and sidelined leaders, which could cloud the party’s prospects in the crucial Assembly elections in the state.
The BJP is expected to release its first list of candidates on January 15 and complete the process by January 17. The Uttar Pradesh polls will be held in seven phases in February and March.
The BJP leadership has started talks with leaders who may revolt if their recommendations are not considered in the distribution of tickets. BJP MPs and other senior party leaders in Uttar Pradesh have also been told that they may be hauled up if their protégés turn rebellious on being denied party tickets.
As a part of this pre-emptive exercise, BJP president Amit Shah held an hour-long meeting with the party’s Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath on Thursday.
“In the meeting, Amit Shah tried to persuade Yogi to work actively for the party even if the party’s choice of candidates differs from that of his own in Gorakhpur and neighbouring districts,” a senior BJP leader aware of the development said. “Yogi, however, refused to make any commitment, and the meeting remained inconclusive.”
The leader added that Shah and Adityanath are likely to meet again on January 16 or 17.
Eye on Adityanath
Yogi Adityanath, the BJP’s hardline face in the state, has been sulking for quite some time after the party thwarted his ambitions to be projected as its chief ministerial candidate, denied him a berth in the cabinet of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and even kept him out of the party’s state election committee that was constituted in the last week of December. In fact, all this seemed to have left Adityanath so enraged that last week, when he was denied permission to speak at the BJP national executive in New Delhi, he skipped the last day of the two-day event on January 7.
Adityanath wants to have a say in the candidate selection for nearly 24 Assembly seats in eastern Uttar Pradesh, and has made it clear that his recommendations must not be overruled in at least eight of these constituencies. Of these eight seats, five are part of the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha constituency. Adityanath wants the other three tickets – Nautanwa in Maharajganj district, Siddharth Nagar in Dumariaganj district and Bansgaon in Gorakhpur district – to be handed to three senior office bearers of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, Adityanath’s personal outfit through which he has tried to retain complete dominance in Gorakhpur and its neighbouring districts in eastern Uttar Pradesh independent of the BJP and its parent organisation, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. These office bearers are the Vahini’s Uttar Pradesh president Sunil Singh, its state co-ordinator Raghvendra Pratap Singh and general secretary Ram Laxman.
According to insiders in the BJP, the party leadership is also likely to talk to some other state leaders who might be feeling sidelined and could, therefore, be potential threats to the party’s election efforts in the politically-important state.
Jostling for tickets
Shah has also conveyed to BJP MPs and other state leaders that those whose recommended candidates revolt if they fail to bag party tickets will be expected to take some responsibility for the revolt.
The message may appear innocuous to outsiders, but there are at least 10 to 12 serious contenders for BJP tickets in almost every one of Uttar Pradesh’s 403 Assembly seats. Most of these aspirants have been recommended by one or the other senior party leader.
According to party insiders, Shah has asked Om Mathur, the BJP national general secretary in charge of the state, to prepare a list of MPs and senior party leaders along with the candidates they have recommended so that the party can keep an eye on their activities at the time of elections.
Though it is not clear what kind of punishment the party brass has envisaged for sulking leaders who do not contribute to the party’s poll efforts or whose protégés turn rebellious, it is obvious that the BJP fears widespread dissidence in its ranks once it announces its list of candidates in the state.
India’s urban water crisis calls for an integrated approach
We need solutions that address different aspects of the water eco-system and
involve the collective participation of citizens and other stake-holders.
According to a UN report, around 1.2 billion people, or almost one fifth of the world’s population, live in areas where water is physically scarce and another 1.6 billion people, or nearly one quarter of the world’s population, face economic water shortage. They lack basic access to water. The criticality of the water situation across the world has in fact given rise to speculations over water wars becoming a distinct possibility in the future. In India the problem is compounded, given the rising population and urbanization. The Asian Development Bank has forecast that by 2030, India will have a water deficit of 50%.
Water challenges in urban India
For urban India, the situation is critical. In 2015, about 377 million Indians lived in urban areas and by 2030, the urban population is expected to rise to 590 million. Already, according to the National Sample Survey, only 47% of urban households have individual water connections and about 40% to 50% of water is reportedly lost in distribution systems due to various reasons. Further, as per the 2011 census, only 32.7% of urban Indian households are connected to a piped sewerage system.
Any comprehensive solution to address the water problem in urban India needs to take into account the specific challenges around water management and distribution:
Pressure on water sources: Rising demand on water means rising pressure on water sources, especially in cities. In a city like Mumbai for example, 3,750 Million Litres per Day (MLD) of water, including water for commercial and industrial use, is available, whereas 4,500 MLD is needed. The primary sources of water for cities like Mumbai are lakes created by dams across rivers near the city. Distributing the available water means providing 386,971 connections to the city’s roughly 13 million residents. When distribution becomes challenging, the workaround is to tap ground water. According to a study by the Centre for Science and Environment, 48% of urban water supply in India comes from ground water. Ground water exploitation for commercial and domestic use in most cities is leading to reduction in ground water level.
Distribution and water loss issues: Distribution challenges, such as water loss due to theft, pilferage, leaky pipes and faulty meter readings, result in unequal and unregulated distribution of water. In New Delhi, for example, water distribution loss was reported to be about 40% as per a study. In Mumbai, where most residents get only 2-5 hours of water supply per day, the non-revenue water loss is about 27% of the overall water supply. This strains the municipal body’s budget and impacts the improvement of distribution infrastructure. Factors such as difficult terrain and legal issues over buildings also affect water supply to many parts. According to a study, only 5% of piped water reaches slum areas in 42 Indian cities, including New Delhi. A 2011 study also found that 95% of households in slum areas in Mumbai’s Kaula Bunder district, in some seasons, use less than the WHO-recommended minimum of 50 litres per capita per day.
Water pollution and contamination: In India,almost400,000childrendie every year of diarrhea, primarily due to contaminated water. According to a 2017 report, 630 million people in the South East Asian countries, including India, use faeces-contaminated drinking water source, becoming susceptible to a range of diseases. Industrial waste is also a major cause for water contamination, particularly antibiotic ingredients released into rivers and soils by pharma companies. A Guardian report talks about pollution from drug companies, particularly those in India and China, resulting in the creation of drug-resistant superbugs. The report cites a study which indicates that by 2050, the total death toll worldwide due to infection by drug resistant bacteria could reach 10 million people.
A holistic approach to tackling water challenges
Addressing these challenges and improving access to clean water for all needs a combination of short-term and medium-term solutions. It also means involving the community and various stakeholders in implementing the solutions. This is the crux of the recommendations put forth by BASF.
The proposed solutions, based on a study of water issues in cities such as Mumbai, take into account different aspects of water management and distribution. Backed by a close understanding of the cost implications, they can make a difference in tackling urban water challenges. These solutions include:
Recycling and harvesting: Raw sewage water which is dumped into oceans damages the coastal eco-system. Instead, this could be used as a cheaper alternative to fresh water for industrial purposes. According to a 2011 World Bank report, 13% of total freshwater withdrawal in India is for industrial use. What’s more, the industrial demand for water is expected to grow at a rate of 4.2% per year till 2025. Much of this demand can be met by recycling and treating sewage water. In Mumbai for example, 3000 MLD of sewage water is released, almost 80% of fresh water availability. This can be purified and utilised for industrial needs. An example of recycled sewage water being used for industrial purpose is the 30 MLD waste water treatment facility at Gandhinagar and Anjar in Gujarat set up by Welspun India Ltd.
Another example is the proposal by Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) to recycle and reclaim sewage water treated at its existing facilities to meet the secondary purposes of both industries and residential complexes. In fact, residential complexes can similarly recycle and re-use their waste water for secondary purposes such as gardening.
Also, alternative rain water harvesting methods such as harvesting rain water from concrete surfaces using porous concrete can be used to supplement roof-top rain water harvesting, to help replenish ground water.
Community initiatives to supplement regular water supply: Initiatives such as community water storage and decentralised treatment facilities, including elevated water towers or reservoirs and water ATMs, based on a realistic understanding of the costs involved, can help support the city’s water distribution. Water towers or elevated reservoirs with onsite filters can also help optimise the space available for water distribution in congested cities. Water ATMs, which are automated water dispensing units that can be accessed with a smart card or an app, can ensure metered supply of safe water.
Testing and purification: With water contamination being a big challenge, the adoption of affordable and reliable multi-household water filter systems which are electricity free and easy to use can help, to some extent, access to safe drinking water at a domestic level. Also, the use of household water testing kits and the installation of water quality sensors on pipes, that send out alerts on water contamination, can create awareness of water contamination and drive suitable preventive steps.
Public awareness and use of technology: Public awareness campaigns, tax incentives for water conservation and the use of technology interfaces can also go a long way in addressing the water problem. For example, measures such as water credits can be introduced with tax benefits as incentives for efficient use and recycling of water. Similarly, government water apps, like that of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, can be used to spread tips on water saving, report leakage or send updates on water quality.
Collaborative approach: Finally, a collaborative approach like the adoption of a public-private partnership model for water projects can help. There are already examples of best practices here. For example, in Netherlands, water companies are incorporated as private companies, with the local and national governments being majority shareholders. Involving citizens through social business models for decentralised water supply, treatment or storage installations like water ATMs, as also the appointment of water guardians who can report on various aspects of water supply and usage can help in efficient water management. Grass-root level organizations could be partnered with for programmes to spread awareness on water safety and conservation.
For BASF, the proposed solutions are an extension of their close engagement with developing water management and water treatment solutions. The products developed specially for waste and drinking water treatment, such as Zetag® ULTRA and Magnafloc® LT, focus on ensuring sustainability, efficiency and cost effectiveness in the water and sludge treatment process.
BASF is also associated with operations of Reliance Industries’ desalination plant at Jamnagar in Gujarat.The thermal plant is designed to deliver up to 170,000 cubic meters of processed water per day. The use of inge® ultrafiltration technologies allows a continuous delivery of pre-filtered water at a consistent high-quality level, while the dosage of the Sokalan® PM 15 I protects the desalination plant from scaling. This combination of BASF’s expertise minimises the energy footprint of the plant and secures water supply independent of the seasonal fluctuations. To know more about BASF’s range of sustainable solutions and innovative chemical products for the water industry, see here.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of BASF and not by the Scroll editorial team.