A new capacity building initiative on ‘Making water sensitive cities in Ganga basin’ aimed at improving river health/flows was launched by National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) in association with Centre for Science and Environment (CSE). Key focus areas of the programme will be Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning, Urban Water Efficiency and Conservation, Decentralized Wastewater Treatment and Local Reuse, Urban Groundwater Management and Urban Waterbodies / Lake Management.
Launching the initiative, Director General, NMCG, Shri Rajiv Ranjan Mishra reiterated the need for respecting traditions and suggested focusing on the basics of water cycle in urban areas. He emphasized the need of protecting, conserving and restoring ecosystem and not just pollution abatement. He also shared insights about Jal Shakti Ministry’s ‘Catch the Rain’ initiative for rain water harvesting. “There is a huge need for public spaces in urban spaces. What could be better than river fronts which connects community with water bodies in cities,” he said.
DG, NMCG suggested a framework for integration between Urban Built Form including landscape and urban water cycle are needed. He also emphasized on how cities have largely been held responsible for the deteriorated state of rivers, and therefore, will need to play a vital role in the rejuvenation efforts as well. There is need to mainstream river sensitive approach while planning for the cities. For the first time, there is a paradigm shift in planning for River Cities. He also mentioned the “River Cities Alliance” which will provide a unique platform for river cities to collaborate for collectively achieving river rejuvenation through sustainable development and capacity building.
Shri. Suresh Kumar Rohilla Senior Director, CSE shared that the aim of the program is capacity building and action research for promoting sustainable urban water management for improved river health in Ganga basin cities. He also explained how the program will engage all the stakeholders which includes, SPMGs (State Program Management Group, Namami Gange), Municipal corporations, Technical & research constants, international organizations and local grassroot communities.
Ms. Sunita Narain, Director General, CSE highlighted the impact of climate change on rivers and hydrology. She shared that the intensity of rain has increased over the years but the number of rainy days has reduced, making water management a crucial subject. She emphasized the need of returning to roots and bringing back the traditional knowledge of rain water harvesting sharing the examples of Alhar – Pyne system of Bihar, wells in forts of Rajasthan and Cascade tanks of South India etc.
This initiative is part of the series of ongoing efforts by NMCG aimed to ensuring convergence of the Namami Gange Mission with national flagship urban missions (AMRUT, Smart Cities, Swachh Bharat Mission, HRIDAY, NULM) and other missions (Atal Bhujal Yojana, Jal Jeevan Mission, Jal Shakti Abhiyan) at state /city level across Ganga basin states. Under this initiative there will be more than 40 training programs supported with development of learning material/ practitioner’s guides and spread over a period of 3 years. This will include residential trainings, online trainings, field visits and webinars etc. Initially, the project will be implemented in 3-4 pilot cities in the Ganga basin. Technical support will be provided to urban local bodies (ULBs). This is the first of its kind capacity building program. More than 840 people participated in the event from 240 cities across 33 countries.
Water Sensitive Urban Design and Planning (WSUDP) is an emerging urban development paradigm aimed to minimize hydrological impacts of urban development on environment. This includes the method of planning and designing urban areas for optimum utilization of water (a precious resource), reduce the harm caused to our rivers and creeks and focuses on entire management of entire water systems (drinking water, storm water run-off, waterway health, sewerage treatment and re-cycling).