The Independent Student Newspaper of Ashoka University

Slippery Slope: Caution Dry Here

By Manasi Rao, Class of 2018

Over the past year Ashoka has been in a contract with the Sustainable Development Organisation, STENUM Asia. It is an organisation that helps institutions like Ashoka reduce the ecological footprint by using economically wise methods of consumption. STENUM has conducted electricity and water consumption audits and has been carefully observing Ashoka’s segregation practices. Ashoka can be proud of a 5-star energy rating, thanks to the thoughtful energy efficient lighting (LED lights in place of halogen) and other infrastructural installations. However, Ashoka has been doing poorly on both, the water and waste front. Water is a pressing concern for the student body considering that our location falls under an agricultural belt.

According to the person in-charge of the campus’ water treatment plant, the Ashoka campus consumes 4 lakh litres of water per day. This is an absurdly high quantity and a large part of this is the water consumed by those who live and work on campus. STENUM noted that from February 2015 to August 2015, the water consumption at Ashoka University was in continuous upward trend. With the onset of summer this is likely to continue.

Water Recycling Unit at Ashoka University

Unfortunately, the sewage treatment plant began functioning only later this term. Ideally, the water required for domestic purposes is approximately 135 litres per capita per day. The ideal flow through the taps should be 6–7 litres/min. However, it was found to be as high as 15–18 litres/min in most of the taps at Ashoka University which is results in the wastage of approx 1600 kL/year. STENUM observed leakages at several places at Ashoka University resulting in water wastage of approx 1900 kL/year. The rainwater harvesting system is not being used to its potential. One can hope that it would be fully functional by the time the monsoons hit. Shorter showers, switching the tap off while brushing/washing, and not watering lawns and plants in the in the mornings or afternoons can be a few steps to ensure better utilisation of this resource. We can aim to achieve this by perhaps lowering the flow rate of the taps, fixing leakages, and changing our water consumption habits.

Water Treatment Plant

India’s growing population has been pressurizing the country’s natural resources, depleting the buffer considerably. Most water sources are contaminated by sewage and agricultural runoff. India has made progress in the supply of safe water to its people, but gross disparity in coverage exists across the country. Ashoka gets its water from Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) for a very low price, however, those who do not have access to the the government supply are left to rely on bore-wells. Neighbouring villages including Asawarpur have had to dig up an 80 feet well to reach to water. Greater water consciousness is the need of the hour. Failing to act more responsibly with the water available to us will have dire consequences not only on us, but also those whose livelihoods depend upon it.

Photography by Manasi Rao

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