Saturday, May 2, 2009

Not Strictly Renewable Energy But a Pioneering Operation in India that Impacts on Energy Consumption in a Huge Way

Madras / Chennai, the city that I was born in and lived in for more than 35 years, is one that is perpetually starved of water. The city authorities are corrupt and send in millions of gallons of useable rain water into the sea every year instead of trying to conserve it for use. And there is a huge industry in bringing water to peoples' homes by water tankers, making the city one of the most congested and worst polluted places on earth. While I do have pleasant memories about growing up there in the late 60s and early 70s, I shudder to think about moving back for the above reasons - the city is egalitarian in making all its residents suffer from the twin problems of water deprivation and horrendous pollution. And, these days, it has one more problem - power shortages for several hours every day, leading the State Government to co-ordinate with the Central Government of India to build ever more coal fired powerplants at Neyveli, adding to the already filthy pollution.

Amid all of this, there are committed individuals trying hard to overcome some of these problems - and succeeding in small albeit very important ways. Old friend Vasanthi Rajiv and her friend Kamla Ravikumar who has commented here recently, reminded me about one such individual - Dr Sekhar Raghavan whois a pioneer in working to popularize Rain Water Harvesting. Dr Raghavan has shown how a simple method of channeling water that is collected on rooftops into the soil could charge ground-water and make water available from borewells to city residents. Charging ground water is good for the environment - there is water available underground for plants and trees - carbon sinks in keeping with the anti fossil fuel line of this blog - and for people. Most importantly, this reduces the pollution from transporting this water from neighboring states and territories to Chennai.

Dr Raghavan's trust has a lovely website that is a must for anyone who is interested in this idea: I would hope that his ideas are implemented in all other cities, whether they are water starved or not - this is a simple practice and it is excellent for the environment to boot.

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