A perfect solution has few takers

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A file photo of A.R. Shivakumar showing a rainwater harvesting structure at his house in Bangalore.
A file photo of A.R. Shivakumar showing a rainwater harvesting structure at his house in Bangalore.

Afshan Yasmeen

Even if just half the rainwater is harvested, it can solve water shortage problem

RWH is mandatory for sanctioning new water connections

Theme park on RWH to come up in 5th Block Jayanagar

Bangalore: Did you know that if 50 per cent of rainwater that falls on Bangalore is harvested, it could meet the entire water requirement of the city and also mitigate flooding? As much as 1,500 million litres of water, which otherwise overwhelm the city’s fragile infrastructure, can be supplied to citizens every day for their use.

But in the absence of an urban water management institution and “uninterested” service providers such as the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), Bangaloreans are yet to take the concept of rainwater harvesting (RWH) seriously. This despite the BBMP making RWH mandatory in its revised building bylaws and sanctioning new water connections only after the applicant has put up a unit on his or her property.

A.R. Shivakumar, Principal Investigator for RWH at the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology (KSCST), Indian Institute of Science, says unless the BBMP makes RWH compulsory for both old and new buildings (it is mandatory only for new buildings now), it will not gain public acceptance.

Mr. Shivakumar, who is also a member of the Technical Committee that is framing a policy document for RWH in the State, asserts that field level awareness on water harvesting is a must.

The KSCST, which has set up RWH units in 20 buildings and four exhibition plots for demonstration, offers free advice on RWH to citizens.

“If the concept is taken seriously, thousands of RWH tanks spread over the city on every property and all the rejuvenated lakes would act as buffer zones to hold water and avoid flooding of storm water drains and low-lying areas,” he explains.

Another RWH expert, S. Vishwanath, says it is unfortunate that the BBMP is not seeing RWH as a “supplementary water providing” strategy. At the same time, BWSSB is not looking at it as a “flood-mitigating measure”. “This institutional gap and lack of coordination among the service providers is the main reason for the concept not being popular,” he says.

Poor enforcement

While the BWSSB and the BBMP officials say they are doing their best to make RWH mandatory for all new buildings, they feel citizens should be more involved. “They put up makeshift structures for namesake so that they get their water connection and plan sanctioned from the BWSSB and BBMP respectively,” said official sources in the BBMP’s Town Planning Department.

Though the engineers inspect individual properties before issuing the occupancy certificate, it is generally not followed strictly, the sources said. Trying to be a little strict, the BWSSB engineers are actually granting new connections only after ensuring that a RWH unit has been installed by the individual. “More than 800 new buildings have actually put up such units in the last one year,” a top BWSSB official said.

Theme park

The BWSSB is also setting up a theme park in 5th Block Jayanagar to house an information centre on RWH. The park will also display demonstration models, literature and equipment required to set up a RWH unit.

The water board has also got 40 registered plumbers of Bangalore trained for setting up RWH units. They were taken to Chennai for training last year. Another batch is scheduled to leave for a similar training shortly, the official added.




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