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Piramal Sarvajal and CWAS design Composite Water Vulnerability Index Tool for ranking slums

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Piramal Sarvajal, the safe drinking water initiative of Piramal Foundation launched a tool named Composite Water Vulnerability Index (CWVI) at its recent Webinar on ‘Sustainable Water Security for Urban Under-Served’ hosted in association with Center for Water and Sanitation (CWAS) and Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT).

The CWVI tool is designed to rank slums on various parameters such as Availability, Accessibility, Reliability, Quality and Burden of Disease. This tool designed by Piramal Sarvajal in partnership with CWAS was demonstrated through a pilot study in 23 slums of Nagpur, in alliance with the Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC), that has led the way in smart-city thinking.

This tool could be replicated in 10 smart cities in Maharashtra and then scaled-up and administered across various smart cities in India. The CWVI tool will go a long way in defining and identifying highly vulnerable communities and their specific areas of challenge. This will further help governing bodies to take a more robust approach to resolve the current problem of provision of reliable and safe drinking water to urban beyond-the-pipe communities.
Leveraging technology and innovation along with cloud computing, digital finance and development finance will better equip the country to resolve water management problems. These solutions will also lead to women empowerment by mobilizing them towards community engagement in water.
The speakers at the Webinar on ‘Sustainable Water Security for Urban Under-Served’ included Dr. Swati Piramal, Vice-Chairperson, Piramal Group and Director, Piramal Foundation; Mahesh Pathak, Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, Government of Maharashtra; Hitesh Vaidya, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA); Dr. K. Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Director, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – India Research Center; Dr. Meera Mehta Director, CWAS, CEPT and Anuj Sharma, CEO, Piramal Sarvajal. The webinar was moderated by Prof Dinesh Mehta, CWAS, CEPT University.
As a part of her Keynote Address, Dr. Swati Piramal, Vice-Chairperson, Piramal Group and Director, Piramal Foundation, said, “Over the past years, India has made great strides in providing access to improved water sources. To truly achieve our SDG targets, it is imperative for us to focus on ensuring safely managed water and strengthen water security, especially for the urban under-served communities. At Piramal Foundation, we collaborate with like-minded partners as we remain committed in our endeavour to provide access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.”
Mahesh Pathak, Principal Secretary, Urban Development Department, Government of Maharashtra appreciated the sterling work by Piramal Foundation and CEPT. He underlined the importance of better water management especially waste-water recycling and reuse. He mentioned that the state government has a policy for waste-water recycling and reuse and many cities – Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur have been practising it. This can reduce dependence on fresh-water resources and help improve water security.
He suggested that organisations like CEPT and Piramal Foundation can support cities in Maharashtra. This is an opportune moment for such activities as under AMRUT 2.0, that will soon be launched, improving water services will be a key.
Dr. Meera Mehta, Director C-WAS reiterated that access to safe and affordable water is a key to ensure achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation for all. She said that SDG 6.1 also focuses on universal, equitable and affordable access. She emphasized the need to ensure good quality water for the poor, as well as in schools and health facilities. Role of women and self-help groups in these activities were also underlined.
Dr. K. Viswanath, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Health Communication, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Director, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health – India Research Center spoke about how water will be a significant problem leading to all kinds of conflict. He congratulated Piramal Sarvajal on developing an innovative and powerful tool like the Composite Water Vulnerability Index (CWVI) that has the potential to change behaviour, especially essential in the post-Covid world. Speaking specifically on the utility of the CWVI for urban planners, he said, “A tool like this can easily capture in an understandable way, the status of health in these communities. Not only does it allow communities to track their progress over a period of time, but also compare themselves to other communities”.
Anuj Sharma, CEO, Piramal Sarvajal commented, “This pilot study conducted in Nagpur brings the macro-level challenge to a defined city-level challenge that can be addressed with specific solutions and targeted impact. We hope that the study will serve as an inspiration for other Civic Bodies to conduct their own assessment, especially for those living in slums, explore the viability of off-grid solutions and determine the willingness to pay for such solutions. At Piramal Sarvajal, we believe that using tools such as the CWVI provides the right impetus to action and believe that this will be adopted widely across India.”
Hitesh Vaidya, Director, National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), spoke about the increasing levels of urbanization, challenges of providing equitable, reliable and safe drinking water to all, and the need for researched data for better governance of water supply services by Urban Local Bodies (ULBs).
The discussions highlighted sustainable water security options for the urban under-served and the possibility of scaling up CWVI for ranking of slums by other ULBs of Maharashtra and other states. A complementary mix of pipe and off-grid services was highlighted for urban water security amongst other urban water service level benchmarks.
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