In two recent articles the New York Times has written about different faces of India: environmental crisis and environmental innovation both driven by failures to effectively govern energy and water systems.India’s water management crisis is described in the article In Teeming India, Water Crisis Means Dry Pipes and Foul Sludge. The article focuses on New Delhi and how India’s inequality limits its ability to govern public goods, such as aquifiers, rivers, and even its water system.
The crisis, decades in the making, has grown as fast as India in recent years. A soaring population, the warp-speed sprawl of cities, and a vast and thirsty farm belt have all put new strains on a feeble, ill-kept public water and sanitation network.
The combination has left water all too scarce in some places, contaminated in others and in cursed surfeit for millions who are flooded each year. Today the problems threaten India’s ability to fortify its sagging farms, sustain its economic growth and make its cities healthy and habitable. At stake is not only India’s economic ambition but its very image as the world’s largest democracy.
…New Delhi’s water woes are typical of those of many Indian cities. Nationwide, the urban water distribution network is in such disrepair that no city can provide water from the public tap for more than a few hours a day.
An even bigger problem than demand is disposal. New Delhi can neither quench its thirst, nor adequately get rid of the ever bigger heaps of sewage that it produces. Some 45 percent of the population is not connected to the public sewerage system.
Those issues are amplified nationwide. More than 700 million Indians, or roughly two-thirds of the population, do not have adequate sanitation. Largely for lack of clean water, 2.1 million children under the age of 5 die each year, according to the United Nations.
[New Delhi’s] pipe network remains a punctured mess. That means, like most everything else in this country, some people have more than enough, and others too little.
The slums built higgledy-piggledy behind Mrs. Prasher’s neighborhood have no public pipes at all. The Jal Board sends tankers instead. The women here waste their days waiting for water, and its arrival sets off desperate wrestling in the streets.
Kamal Krishnan quit her job for the sake of securing her share. Five days a week, she would clean offices in the next neighborhood. Five nights a week, she would go home to find no water at home. The buckets would stand empty. Finally, her husband ordered her to quit. And wait.
“I want to work, but I can’t,” she said glumly. “I go mad waiting for water.”
Elsewhere, in the central city, where the nation’s top politicians have their official homes, the average daily water supply is three times what finally arrives even in Mrs. Prasher’s neighborhood.
The same public failings have also lead to an unexpected wind power boom in India. This boom, lead by Suzlon Energy, is described in The Ascent of Wind Power.
Not even on the list of the world’s top 10 wind-turbine manufacturers as recently as 2002, Suzlon passed Siemens of Germany last year to become the fifth-largest producer by installed megawatts of capacity. It still trails the market leader, Vestas Wind Systems of Denmark, as well as General Electric, Enercon of Germany and Gamesa Tecnológica of Spain.
Suzlon’s past shows how a company can prosper by tackling the special needs of a developing country. Its present suggests a way of serving expanding energy needs without relying quite so much on coal, the fastest-growth fossil fuel now but also the most polluting.
Roughly 70 percent of the demand for wind turbines in India comes from industrial users seeking alternatives to relying on the grid, said Tulsi R. Tanti, Suzlon’s managing director. The rest of the purchases are made by a small group of wealthy families in India, for whom the tax breaks for wind turbines are attractive.
The demand for wind turbines has particularly accelerated in India, where installations rose nearly 48 percent last year, and in China, where they rose 65 percent, although from a lower base. Wind farms are starting to dot the coastline of east-central China and the southern tip of India, as well as scattered mesas and hills across central India and even Inner Mongolia.
WorldChanging also comments on wind power in India.