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IIMB’s Jal Jeevan Mission with UNICEF and SKDRDP hosts Water Conservation Seminar on World Water Day

The event brought together industry experts and academicians to drive discussions for a strategic roadmap towards mitigating India’s water crisis

March 22, 2024, Bengaluru: The Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) Chair and Office at IIM Bangalore, in collaboration with UNICEF and the Shri Kshetra Dharmasthala Rural Development Project (SKDRDP), organized a National Seminar on ‘Water Conservation’ today at the IIMB campus. The seminar brought together researchers, academicians and civil society for deliberations on water conservation, river and lake rejuvenation, and ecosystem preservation.

With the growing water shortage in Bengaluru, the seminar shed light on initiatives and collaborative projects across the region that have achieved a large-scale impact in reviving water bodies, increasing access to clean water, and mobilizing community support. Necessitating focused efforts and dialogues on the need for sustainable water preservation strategies, the summit also emphasized on the need for interconnected efforts at individual, community, institutional, and national levels to bridge the gap.

Watch the video here: https://youtube.com/live/VohD8OsnwMo

Delivering the opening address at the seminar, Prof. Gopal Naik, Jal Jeevan Mission (Chair) and Professor, IIM Bangalore, said “Rapidly rising water scarcity is a reality in India and is expected to worsen in the coming years. Water conservation is not just a matter of individual actions; it is a collective responsibility that spans communities, institutions, and nations. Through education, outreach and financial incentives, we can empower individuals, communities and institutions to acquire and develop water efficient habits and technologies. By adopting a culture of conservation through public awareness campaigns, social norms and regulatory frameworks, we can ensure that water conservation becomes a way of life rather than a social responsibility.”

Dr Lingaraju Yale, from Art of Living shed light on conservation efforts across Bengaluru’s riverine ecosystem. He shared an in-depth analysis on the foundation’s project in collaboration with HAL to revive the Kumudvathi River on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Stressing on the importance of utilising scientific methodology for water management projects, he discussed the foundation’s construction of water recharge wells and injection wells,  cleaning of Kalyanis (step wells) and tanks, desilting of water bodies, and afforestation projects to restore the green cover. 

Addressing the challenges in rejuvenation of water bodies in the Indian context, he said, “India’s topography features diverse terrains, necessitating a strategic, customised approach to implement rejuvenation techniques. Mitigating the flow of water bodies and sewage water poses another challenge, and it is alarming to see the Cauvery river polluted with sewage water. Discussing the ongoing urban water crisis, he further highlighted the need to eradicate and prevent pollution in peri urban areas as the key solution to mitigate water scarcity.”

The seminar featured holistic discussions on the current realities of India’s water crisis, with impact-driven dialogues on the need for concerted collaboration to mitigate the same. The discussion was led by distinguished speakers and experts in the field, such as Paulos Workneh, Chief of WASH and Environment, UNICEF India; Dr Lingaraju Yale from Art of Living; Prof. Haritha Saranga, Chairperson, Sustainability Task Force; Joseph Fernandes of IIT-IIT.org; , Prof. M N Thimmegowda of UAS Bangalore and  TV Ramachandra from IISc, Bangalore.

Discussing the SKDRDP’s work towards lake rejuvenation in Karnataka, Mr. S S Anil Kumar, Chief Operating Officer, SKDRDP BC Trust,  said “Through an institutional collaboration with UNICEF, we are currently undertaking the ‘Save Water’ movement in 14 districts and 2 urban areas in the state. So far, it is estimated that this movement has saved 1-1.5 TMC of water. We operate by identifying and nurturing young volunteers showcasing leadership qualities and enabling them to serve as local ambassadors for water conservation and sustainability. Under our ‘Nammoru Namma Kere’ programme, we have rejuvenated 730 lakes so far and removed 200 lakhs cu.cm of silt. As a result, 3.47 lakh individuals have benefited from the water from these lakes.”

Prof. Haritha Saranga, Chairperson, Sustainability Task Force further elaborated on the water conservation measures adopted at IIMB. Covered with a green terrain of 60 acres with 25000 species of trees, the campus has 57 recharge wells at different points along the stormwater drains, for the recharging of groundwater by surface runoff rainwater. Currently, 17 more wells are under construction, and a total runoff of 3,41,842 kilo liters is recharged at IIMB. 

The seminar further highlighted the importance of scientific interventions at the consumer level to enable community-wide behavioral transformation. Dr Vivek, Independent researcher, emphasised the need for a domestic water policy to regulate water management and consumption. He discussed the unequal distribution of water in Bengaluru, with 30 percent of households accounting for 70% of total household water consumption in the city. He further expounded on the need for systematic interventions based on a strategically designed behavior change framework.

Speaking on the need for collective action to  tackle the global water crisis, Mr, Paulos Workneh, Chief of WASH and Environment, UNICEF India, said“Global climate change events such as erratic rainfall, droughts and heatwaves have resulted in devastating consequences for children and their families. Therefore, there is an urgent need for national and international collaboration around protecting and conserving water resources. When we cooperate for water conservation we create a positive ripple effect - fostering harmony, generating prosperity, and building resilience for shared challenges.”

The seminar delved into diverse themes, such as ‘River Rejuvenation with Special Reference to Bangalore’s Riverine Ecosystem’, ‘ Water Conservation on IIMB Campus’,’Desilting of Tanks, ‘Rejuvenation of Lakes’, ‘Consumer Behaviour in Water Conservation’, ‘Water Conservation in Agriculture’ and ‘Water Conservation for Human Well-Being’.