Sustainable Development Goals > Planet

RESHAPING THE WATER AGENDA FOR AN ANCIENT CITY

JAGRAN PRAKASHAN, New Delhi / DAINIK JAGRAN / 2018

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VARANASI’S CHAOS THEORY

Varanasi, the holy city - where life and death, the surreal and the mundane, come together in striking contrast, epitomizes organized chaos. Springing off the bustling streets, is a web of alleys crammed with stalls, shops, homes, people, animals, cowdung, cafes, barbers. In every bylane, food is being cooked, sold, eaten. And somewhere in this city of 10,000 temples, a god is always being worshipped. With all its noise, color, traffic, smells and crowds, Varanasi’s chaos not just assaults the senses, it spills over to an equally chaotic water supply infrastructure which leaks 148 mn litres/day, leaving the city water starved.

RAMPANT WASTAGE

Despite being situated by the Ganges, and on the country’s largest aquifers, groundwater levels have dropped 3 metres in the last decade. The city’s 1.4 mn citizens waste water with incredible efficiency. Thousands of taps leak water at the rate of 15000 litres/year per tap. Water purifiers in 25,000 homes, waste 700 mn litres/year to produce 230 mn litres drinking water. Open spaces have become concrete jungles, minimizing chances of groundwater recharge.

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When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Varanasi is the holy city, and prayers and rituals are an intrinsic part of the culture.

Ancient mythology has it that devotees offered water to calm down an angry Lord Shiva. This offering of water is called “Jaldaan” (donating water). Our campaign message – “if there’s no water, what will you offer to the gods”. Through this, we used a deep seated religious custom as a pivot to awaken people to reality.

Execution

MAKING WATER EVERYONE’S BUSINESS:Through 60,000 square centimeters of editorial content, we brought the water agenda into public sphere.

REUSING WATER WASTED BY WATER PURIFIERS:Buckets distributed to 20,000 homes with water purifiers to reuse water, while another 15,000 homes voluntarily participated and saved 958 mn litres water/year

PROMOTING GROUND WATER RECHARGE:We helped remove 1,00,000 square metres of concrete from open areas, allowing 60 mn litres of rainwater to seep through and recharge groundwater.

INSTALLING RAINWATER HARVESTING SYSTEMS:City administration ordered installation of rainwater harvesting systems at 170 parks, and issued notices to house owners and all government buildings to install systems. Already,273 homes and establishments installed rainwater harvesting systems, saving over 36000 litres of water/year.

CHANGE AGENTS TO EVANGELISE THE CAUSE:We created a “Jaldaan Club”of 3000 members who organized 245 meetings to encourage others.

ALARMS ON OVERHEAD TANKS:Alarms installed on overhead tanks in 2000 homes which would save about 73 mn litres/year

Outcome

AFFIRMATIVE ACTION BY GOVERNMENT:

1. Commissioned a project report for creating a new water supply infrastructure worth INR 5.5bn

2. Discarded a proposal for 32 new tubewells that could potentially pump 32 bn litres of groundwater annually. This budget’s been diverted to cleaning river water for drinking purposes

3. Prevention of groundwater contamination through anaerobic methods is being undertaken

WINNING BIG FOR THE BRAND:

As per the recently released Indian Readership Survey 2017, Dainik Jagran was ranked the No.1 newspaper in Varanasi with a Total Readership of 4,24,000

The campaign not only saved billions of litres of water, but importantly, worked towards igniting “water consciousness” amongst citizens.

Strategy

RESHAPING THE WATER AGENDA:

Amidst the chaos of Varanasi, we at Dainik Jagran recognized the urgent need to ‘talk water’. Burdened with a creaky infrastructure, the city needed new models, innovative solutions, and collaborative approaches involving communities for action at scale. We had to lead the agenda to quench the thirst for a new “water economy” and make water everyone’s business. It's a tantalizing prospect….but we had to begin.

Building the foundations for a new water economy would be difficult. It required government, community and experts to work together. How do we construct a water-smart city and build resilience to manage the future water stresses? The answer lay in galvanizing community to “get water right”, and reshape the water agenda in Varanasi.

Synopsis

Dainik Jagran exists to shift the collective consciousness of people and transform lives to create a better world and a better future….because an awakened individual is one who goes beyond the barriers of his own mind and lives life in a larger context.

Living this vision of our brand, we draw from the very core of our newspaper’s editorial philosophy which has 7 Principles as its foundation – Women Empowerment, Environment Protection, Population Management, Poverty Eradication, Health, Education, and Water Conservation. These are intrinsically linked to our country’s progress. Everyday, we necessarily carry stories of change, of challenges, of hope and of crusaders across any of these domains.

Water Conservation, therefore is amongst the core priorities of the brand.

As per SDG, ensuring universal access to water requires investment in adequate infrastructure, protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems. Our campaign drew from the SDG on water conservation with specific objectives to:

1. Mobilize communities to build water security and resilience

2. Get administration to take the right “water actions”

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