Placing water and sanitation management in urban areas among the most daunting challenges in the context of rapid urbanisation, BRICS countries have called for a ‘zero waste’ policy through reuse and recycling in a focused manner. Participating in a discussion on ‘Resilient Water and Sanitation Management’ at the BRICS Urbanisation Forum in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, policy makers and experts from the member countries stressed on waste reduction and reuse.
China has showcased the city of Shenzen where in only 6% of municipal solid waste is being dumped in the open. Mr.Xu Hayun, Chief Engineer, China Construction Group informed that daily 2,10,000 tonnes of municipal solid waste is being recycled to generate 4,300 MW of electricity. He said that waste-to-energy conversion of the city has been substantially enhanced since 1988 when only 150 tonnes of such waste was converted into power. He further informed that 94% of solid waste being generated in Chinese cities is being recycled.
Experts have stressed the need to step up the capacities of cities to ensure such zero waste approach. Dr.B.Chandra Mohan, Revenue Secretary of Tamil Naidu said that Chennai is a leading example of resilience in water management being the first city in the country to set up a desalination plant enabling use of 200 million litres of sea water per day. Rain water harvesting is ensured in all the buildings in the city to meet water needs of citizens, he said. Tamil Nadu Government is taking measures to supply 240 million litres of Treated Reusable Water per day to industrial units which could give more revenues than the income from supply of regular water, he added.
Ruth Jurberg of Brazil called for proper date generation by cities to ensure effective water and sanitation management besides involvement of people in these critical areas.
Noting that only 1% of readily usable water is available for use of humanity with 97% of water being in seas and another 2% being locked up in deep acquifers, Ms.N.A.Buthelegi of South Africa called for adoption of appropriate technologies and response mechanisms to meet water needs of people. She called for a holistic approach to water management given the linkages with various other utilities. She informed that in South Africa, 15,000 water ambassadors are pressed into service to educate people about proper water use.
Ms.Karuna Gopal, President, Foundation for Futuristic Cities said that the Government of India, under different new urban missions has launched concerted efforts to ensure proper water supply and management in urban areas.
During a discussion on ‘New Towns and Regional Planning’, the experts called for developing new urban habitations based on sound economic logic so that the inhabitants of such new locations are not pushed into ‘poverty traps’. This needs to be ensured through necessary linkages with other centres of production and consumption for employment generation on a sustainable basis. Experts from Brazil, China, India and South Africa voiced concern over unplanned and unanticipated urban expansion resulting in social and economic inequalities. Some of the experts called for ‘extended urbanism’ based on the principle of effective regional planning.
The experts unanimously called for augmenting the capacities of cities to promote effective urban planning and management besides ensuring wider participation of people in urban affairs.
Ms.Zou-Kota Fredericks, South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Settlements, while expressing concern over the growing slums and informal settlements in urban areas called for ensuring liveable and sustainable human settlements in urban areas.
The BRICS nations during today’s deliberations stressed on ensuring urban renaissance to stimulate economic growth besides enabling decent living for all sections of the society.
Dr.Jagan Shah, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs, Ministry of Urban Development informed that urban renaissance in India are based on the five pillars of empowering urban local bodies, citizen participation, capacity building of stakeholders, effective urban planning and augmenting financial resources of cities and towns.