Ms. Dikshit was speaking at a national workshop on ‘Rain Water Harvesting -- Sustainable Solutions to Water Problems of NCT of Delhi'.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit on Thursday said despite her government's initiative and the money spent, rain water harvesting in the Capital has not had satisfactory results.

Ms. Dikshit advocated simplifying the procedures of providing policy support, financial assistance and technical guidance to the citizens and residents' welfare associations to ensure that harvesting becomes a major initiative to improve the ground water levels in the city.

Ms. Dikshit was speaking at a national workshop on ‘Rain Water Harvesting -- Sustainable Solutions to Water Problems of NCT of Delhi'.

“The ground water levels in Delhi were so high 40 years back that the water had to be pumped out to prevent seepage in buildings in various places in Delhi. Today the ground water level is alarmingly low at places,” she said.

Citing her own example and urging people to conserve water, Ms. Dikshit said: “I use half a bucket of water for bathing during the summer and ask other family members to follow suit.”

She urged water professionals, residents' welfare associations, school authorities and custodians of parks and gardens in Delhi to take up rain water harvesting as a “people's movement”.

An official of the Delhi Jal Board said the workshop was aimed at finding solutions to facilitate rain water harvesting across the city, prepare strategies and an action plan which is implementable.

“Rain water harvesting has been practised in India for the last 4,000 years. It improves the quantity and quality of ground water, raises the water level in wells and bore-wells, mitigates the effect of drought, and reduces soil erosion by controlling the surface runoff. It also decreases choking of ground water drains and flooding of roads and saves energy. As a result of continuous extraction, ground water levels in India, as well as in Delhi, have gone down. Delhi is facing a crisis of water and its ground water is under serious threat because of illegal and irrational extraction,” said the official.

Referring to how Delhi can easily recharge its aquifers, the official said the city receives annual rainfall of 611.8 mm in less than 30 days, which can be easily stored by way of harvesting mechanisms for subsequent use for irrigation. “During the rainy season, the Yamuna gets a huge amount of flood water which simply flows away. But if stored, it can be vital for the city,” the official said.

As per a Delhi Government notification, if the plot size of a building is more than 200 square metres, the permission to draw ground water through tube-well or bore-well will be subject to the condition that the occupier of the said plot or building will install a rain water harvesting system.

More In: Delhi