Project Agastya                  

An Initiative for
Solutions for Water Resources



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An introduction to the 25/Bangalore Foundation & project agastya

It is our privilege to introduce you to our prestigious Project.

A few months back, a team of young, talented & ambitious professionals met and decided that they need to get together and do something constructive for the society of which they where a part of. We decided to revive an informal group that we had created some years ago. Thus was born (or ‘re-born’) the 25/Bangalore Foundation.

We wanted to take up a project that is challenging, needs a professional approach & would be self-sustainable. We short-listed a few activities, and in the end decided on the Water Resources Management in Bangalore.

We are proud of the fact that an organisation such as UNIDO has found us worthy of association.

We did a lot of background work on this and discovered a few interesting things :

1.    Firstly, we found that this topic has all the features that we were looking for, and more.

2.   We also discovered that there actually is no Organisation working on Water Resources Management (in its totality) in the urban areas, though there are quite lot of them working in the rural areas.

3.   The deterioration of the environment (river pollution, decline of sub-soil water, air pollution, etc.) puts equal pressure on rural and urban areas.

4.   Insufficient and inadequate infrastructure supply often hinders the economic development of cities in developing countries, despite large investments.

5.   Usually, the percentage of population with access to potable water is considered a relevant indicator of the progress achieved in supplying water. The validity of such binary approach can be questioned, as reality is more complex. It presupposes that there are households with access to water and households without access to water, though the actual problem lies in the cost of access itself.

6.   To develop & implement a feasible, viable & Sustainable set of solutions for Water Resources Management, not just in the urban areas, but also in the rural regions, we need to look at things from a different perspective from the traditional outlook.

7.   Unlike popular belief, it’s not just the responsibility of the Water management Organisations to ‘conserve’ water, but of all the other stakeholders We need to look at it in its totality, and involve all the stakeholders, the actual users, vendors and even the supporting institutions, such as, Financial Institutions, Research & academic bodies, bilateral & multilateral agencies, etc.

8.   We have to look at the environmental issues too. We have take into confidence the users, the policy makers, as well as re-engineer the instruments influencing this domain.

The unreliability of Water Supply has a great impact on our Society. It affects our daily life. It affects the industry. The quality of goods manufactured. The economics of the industry, as well as our households. It affects the health & morale of all of us in this society.


A 1993 Policy Paper by World bank reflected a broad global consensus which was forged during the Rio Earth Summit process. This consensus stated that modern water resources management should be based on three fundamental principles (known as “the Dublin Principles”). First there is the ecological principle, which argues that independent management of water by different water-using sectors is not appropriate, that the river basin must become the unit of analysis, that land and water need to be managed together, and that much greater attention needs to be paid to the environment. Second is the institutional principle , which argues that water resources management is best done when all stakeholders participate, including the state, the private sector and civil society; that women need to be included; and that resource management should respect the principle of subsidiarity, with actions taken at the lowest appropriate level. Third is the instrument principle, which argues that water is a scarce resource, and that greater use needs to be made of incentives and economic principles in improving allocation and enhancing quality.

From the experience of the World Bank, there are two principal conclusions. First, it is clear that the “management or infrastructure” dichotomy is false. Both are needed. In most developing countries there is simultaneously an urgent need for more environmentally and socially sustainable management of water resources, and for developing and maintaining the stock of small and large water infrastructure needed for growth and poverty reduction. Second, it is equally clear that development and management of water resources is a slow and highly political process. All countries, including industrialized ones, have a long way to go before they manage their water resources in accordance with principles of best practice. The challenge of reform, accordingly, is to determine what is feasible, in any particular natural, cultural, economic and political environment, and to develop alliances around a sequenced, prioritized, realistic program for improvement.


The gloomy arithmetic of Water

The World Commission on Water has described the “gloomy arithmetic of water”.

The gloomy arithmetic of water is mirrored in the gloomy arithmetic of costs. The “easy and cheap” options for mobilizing water resources for human needs have mostly been exploited. Many countries are now facing sharply-increasing unit costs (often associated with inter-basin transfers or even desalination, and as often associated with the challenges of quality as with those of quantity).

Population and economic growth, and greater appreciation of the value of water in ecosystems, means that water demands are growing and shifting. Tensions over water rights are increasing at the level of the village, city, and basin. Some of these disputes are spilling over to international river basins.

Shifting patterns of precipitation and runoff associated with climate change compound this gloomy arithmetic. An inability to predict and manage the quantity and quality of water and the impacts of droughts, floods and climatic variability imposes large costs on many economies in the developing world. If the computer simulations on climate change are correct, these impacts will only heighten in the coming  decades

Effective development and management of water resources are essential for sustainable growth and poverty reduction in all developing countries.

Usually, the percentage of population with access to potable water is considered a relevant indicator of the progress achieved in supplying water.

Every year, on an average, each household spends around Rs. 2,000 in coping with the unreliable supply of water, which is 15.5 times more than what they pay to the municipality/corporation for their annual water consumption.

Rainwater should not be neglected in the effort to provide water. Because of its unique advantages of technical simplicity and convenience, rainwater catchments can make a major contribution to supplying the water needs of many people.

Rainwater harvesting has been practiced successfully in some parts of the world for more than 4000 years. Yet despite the pressing need for adequate drinking water supplies in arid and semi-arid areas, this water supply technique is still not used as widely as it could be.

During the past century, while world population tripled, the aggregate use of water has increased six fold. These increases have come at high environmental costs – some rivers no longer reach the sea; 50 percent of the world’s wetlands have disappeared in the past century; 20 percent of freshwater fish are endangered or extinct; many of the most important groundwater aquifers are being mined, with water tables already deep and dropping by meters every year, and some are damaged permanently by salinization.

The World Commission on Water estimates that water use will increase by about 50 percent in the next 30 years. It is estimated that 4 billion people – one half of the world’s population – will live under conditions of severe water stress in 2025, with conditions particularly severe in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. Compounding the relative scarcity of water is the continuous deterioration in water quality in most developing countries. Again, it is the poorest countries and poorest people who are most directly affected.

Population and economic growth, and greater appreciation of the value of water in ecosystems, means that water demands are growing and shifting. Tensions over water rights are increasing at the level of the village, city, and basin. Some of these disputes are spilling over to international river basins.

The World Bank has a long history of engagement in water resources development and management, Initially the World Bank saw the development of dams and other hydraulic infrastructure as synonymous with water resources management. In good part through some painful failures, the World Bank learned about the necessity of incorporating not just technical and economic considerations, but social and environmental factors into the design and operation of hydraulic infrastructure. The World Bank also learned that water management is about much more than simply building and operating infrastructure, that it also includes the development of an enabling legal framework and institutions for management of both the quantity and quality of water in basins and aquifers. Non-structural measures, such as water rights administration, allocation mechanisms, and information systems, must be incorporated as well.

The need of this hour is to develop a portfolio of analytic work which informs management decisions & recognizes differences.

A World Bank report throws up the following assessments :

  • Developing countries invest about $70 billion annually in water resources. About 90 percent of investment comes from domestic sources. The World Bank has historically invested about $3 billion a year in water-related sectors, accounting for about 5 percent of investment in developing countries.

  • The World Bank has a water resources portfolio of about US$9 billion, with 80 percent of this in water resource infrastructure and about 20 percent in institutional capacity building. The World Bank’s portfolio in water services – water supply, irrigation and hydropower – which is addressed in companion sector strategies, amounts to US$14 billion. Total World Bank investments in water amount to US$23 billion, about 12 percent of the  total IBRD and IDA portfolio.

  • In all countries, there is a major need for more effective management of water resources, to ensure increased benefits across sectors while taking into account the diverse interests of stakeholders (including the poor).

  • In all countries, there is need for greater attention to water allocation, demand management, water rights and the use of pricing and other economic instruments.

  • In all countries, there is a major need for improving the benefits from existing infrastructure, and for developing institutional and financial arrangements for sustainable rehabilitation and maintenance.

  • In many developing countries, appropriate management and institutional actions need to be complemented by major investments in new hydraulic infrastructure. These investments require long-term financing, and financing requirements will only continue to grow as costs increase.

  • As demands for water services rise, increases in supply will require use of ”next generation” technologies, including demand management, inter-basin transfers and sharing of benefits from trans-boundary waters. Together, these result in significant increases in (financial and transaction) costs of delivery.

  • Potential returns to packages of management and infrastructure investments are large. In many countries, investments in water resources management infrastructure potentially have high direct and indirect economic growth and development payoffs  (including mitigation of climate change impacts on the poorest and conflict prevention). There are risks, but there are also high returns.

  • Sound water resources management is a significant public good (flood control, inter-basin and transnational issues) and is part of an effective strategy for poverty reduction (employment generation, health and livelihood enhancement).

The economics of Water Supply unreliability ;

The total cost of the unreliability of water supply is the sum of the cost of reducing unreliability and the cost of unreliability to the economic players and to the collectivity. The cost of reducing unreliability corresponds to the operating costs along with the total cost of the new investment required. The cost of unreliability corresponds to the unreliability costs borne by users, that is the cost of compensatory strategies, and the costs borne by the society like pollution, loss of productivity, etc.

It is in this perspective that we formulated a Plan of Action to approach, investigate, plan & execute a set of self-sustainable solutions for Clean Water Resources Management for our City.

As the first step to achieving our goals, we decided to create a Forum, consisting of all the Stakeholders of Water Resources in the City, various supportive Government (both State & Central) departments & agencies, bilateral & multilateral agencies, Financial Institutions, the Industry, the media, other like-minded NGOS, etc.

In order to create the Forum & to decide on it’s Plan of Action (PoA), we though it most appropriate to have a Brain-storming session/Workshop. This was held on Thursday, the 20th .

The Objective of the Workshop is:

a.   To create a Forum to develop, initiate & implement Sustainable Solutions for Water Resources Management in Bangalore City.

b.   To create a Discussion-cum-Working Group consisting of the various stakeholders in Water Management & usage in Bangalore City, to address the problems faced by the consumer of Water resources.

c.   To launch a series of Awareness Programmes on the scarcity value of water, to promote the significance of a Scientific approach to Water Resources Management.

d.   To initiate a Sustainable Programme for better & more efficient Water Resources Management in Bangalore City.

e.   To develop new approaches to serving (involving the disadvantaged groups), increase efficiency, improve technical & operational practices, and access new sources of finance.

TARGET AUDIENCE : This programme would be represented by the various stake-holders of the Water Resources, the Civic authorities, the Corporate, the Consumers (both domestic & commercial) and other like-minded NGOs.

The Workshop was in the Form of Presentations by representatives of the stakeholders, followed by a Q&A/discussion section.

        The Fore-noon Session addressed the problem of the availability of potable water, the exploration, distribution & management of water resources and the various sources of potable water.

This Session was Chaired by Shri B R Shah, Former Chairman, Central Water Commission. Government of India.

        The After-noon Session shall address the environmental aspects, water pollution & Cleaner techniques & processes for water treatment & pollution and waste minimization.

This Session was Chaired by Dr. Jean-Jacques Braun, Chairman, Indo-French Cell for Water Sciences (IFCWS), IISc, Bangalore.


At the end of the day, we were able to arrive at a consensus, and launched a Society known as Project Agastya.

We request you support our Project in the same positive manner in which you have earlier responded to our initiative. Together, we would all be able to make a considerable change in this domain.


S Vasantha Kumar, Chairman, Project Agastya & Advisor, UNIDO-ICAMT

Rajeev Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Project Agastya & General Secretary, The 25/Bangalore Foundation.


Project Agastya

For more details please contact :

Mr. Rajeev Kumar, Chief Executive Officer – Project Agastya & General Secretary, The 25/Bangalore Foundation. Ph : 333 5590 (R) email :, 

 Mr. S Vasantha Kumar, Chairman – Project Agastya (& Advisor, UNIDO-ICAMT). Ph : 3478109, 3478110, 3479832.   Fax: (080) 347 5450  email:,

 Mr. Renji Abraham, Director (Hon.)  Project Agastya. Mobile : 98440 36522 Ph : 558 4613.

Mr. U Jagannatha, Director (Hon.) – Project Agastya. Ph :  98452 50590.