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Water needs to become a prestige issue
Sunil Joshi | Sunday, 8 January 2017 AT 03:18 PM IST
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Water is considered as a prestige issue in not just the Stockholm Municipal Corporation but throughout Sweden. If Pune takes inspiration and works towards the same goal, then we will be able to see the change in the city. Unless we chalk out a plan and take steps and work towards better water facilities, we will not see a change in the water situation in the city.

The selection of Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad for the Smart City Project is commendable but the path ahead is strewn with many challenges. The citizens staying in both the corporation areas think that it is the duty of administration or the municipal corporation to complete the developmental work under Smart City Project. Such feeling is further strengthened by corporators or aspirants. As a result of this, citizens have become neutral about this entire process.

Surprisingly, ‘water’ does not find a place in the priority list for poll agenda which is being prepared for the forthcoming zilla parishad and municipal corporation polls. Hence, it is evident that water is no more a serious issue. Pune city gets a steady supply of water from four dams and while Pimpri-Chinchwad gets ample water from Pavana dam. This year, the dams are full to the brim so there is no need to ponder over the scarcity of water. Many think that we can delve into this issue if there is no rain this year.

Honestly speaking, we need to inculcate a habit of using water sparingly and that too in a disciplined manner. The water is considered as a sensitive commodity. Our perspective towards water issue is often marred by an attitude that it is a weapon to create political disturbance. Supplying water stored in dams is a responsible task. But no one is interested in knowing how water is supplied through dams. Right from schools to post graduation level education, no field trips are arranged to the dams. No efforts are being undertaken to make citizens understand that it is each one’s responsibility to use water sparingly. While planning ‘Smart City’, citizens’ mentality needs to undergo a change. Under Smart City projects, all the processes will become technologically driven.

Rajendra Singh received Stockholm Water Prize for his innovative water restoration efforts and improving water security in rural India on August 26, 2015 and for showing extraordinary courage and determination in his quest to improve the living conditions of the needy. At a function held on this occasion, Stockholm’s mayor apologetically confessed that one can’t drink water from the nearby lake, but the lady mayor quickly assured those who were present there that they will be able to drink water from the same lake during their next visit. Jalabiradari volunteers were surprised with the sheer confidence shown by the mayor and we are sure that this year, the water in that lake must have become potable and safe to drink.

During our stay in Stockholm, not once we had to consume bottled water. One may understand that water is considered a prestige point in not just the Stockholm Municipal Corporation but throughout Sweden. When Puneities will make a similar resolve, only then, we will be able to witness the sea change in our attitude towards water and the same will then percolate in our actions towards conserving water.

The information accessed through the Right to Information Act is enough to create short waves. The Pune Municipal Corporation has paid Rs 2 crore as fine. Maharashtra Pollution Control Board slapped this fine on the civic body for releasing untreated water into the river. Even if this fine was paid by the civic body, it is paid through taxpayers’ money which means all taxpayers have in a way contributed towards the payment of this fine.

To change this, the residents from Pune and Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation can start playing their bit by doing a self water audit. The residents of housing societies, bungalows, chawls and shanties can start recording how much water is supplied to them by the civic body, nagarpalika and gram panchayat. They need to also record how much water is being used by them and how much is saved. When we will be able to do our bit and save water, it will become a prestige point for us. Mahatma Gandhi has once said ‘Start small, think big. When these small things become big, then, it is exuberant of your smartness which cannot be obliterated.’

Dignitary speakers
A central figure in European media art
Professor Peter Weibel, Chairman and CEO, ZKM
Born in Odessa in 1944, Peter Weibel studied literature, medicine, logic, philosophy, and film in Paris and Vienna. He became a central figure in European media art on account of his involvement in various activities as an artist, media theorist, curator and as a nomad between art and science. Since 1984, he has been a professor at the University of Applied Arts Vienna.From 1984 to 1989, he was the head of the Digital Arts Laboratory at the Media Department of New York University in Buffalo and in 1989, he founded the Institute of New Media at the Stadelschule in Frankfurt and he was the director till 1995. Between 1986 and 1995, he was in charge of the Ars Electronica in Linz as an artistic director and from 1993 to 1999, he commissioned the Austrian pavilions at the Venice Biennale. He was the artistic director of the Seville Biennial (BIACS3), in 2008 and of the 4th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, in 2011. In 2013, he was appointed an active member of the European Academy of Science and Arts in Salzburg. In 2014, he received the Oskar-Kokoschka-Preis. From 2015 onwards, he is a curator of the lichtsicht 5 - Projection Biennale in Bad Rothenfelde. In 2015 he was appointed as honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts in Moscow.

Research in areas of human-computer interaction

Professor Gesche Joost, Head of Design Research Lab
Gesche Joost (*1974) is a Professor for Design Research at the Berlin University of the Arts and since 2005, she is heading the Design Research Lab. With international partners, she conducts research and development projects in the areas of human-computer interaction, gender and diversity aspects of technological development, as well as user-centered design and participation. In 2009, she received the young talent award for science from the mayor of Berlin. She is the Chairwoman of DGTF e.V. (German Society for Design Theory and Research) and Board Member of Technologiestiftung Berlin. She is also a member of the Board of the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes), an appointed member of the Synod of the evangelical church in Germany (EKD) as well as a full member of the Goethe Institute. In 2014, she was appointed as a Digital Champion for the EU commission. Since 2015, she is a member of the Advisory Board of SAP SE.
 
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