Gargi Parsai

So far the government has not cast its net on private institutions

CGWA is empowered to issue directions to the States and appoint officers

NEW DELHI: With the realisation that climate change was impacting resources of water, the Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA), under the Ministry of Water Resources, has urged the States to make it mandatory for institutions to adopt rooftop rain water harvesting and promote artificially recharged ground water. The principle is to catch every drop where it falls.

Even though Centre provides financial and technical support for such projects, the initiative is yet to catch on. So far 18 States had adopted the scheme, while a few others said they were “in the process.”

CGWA Chairman B.M. Jha said that the States had to be pro-active in giving a momentum to the scheme as water was a State subject. “We undertake demonstration projects for the States which are 100 per cent funded by the Centre and we provide technical support,” he told The Hindu.

The Authority is empowered to issue directions to the States and appoint officers for implementation of the scheme..

Private initiatives

So far the government has not cast its net on private institutions, although the CGWA regulates withdrawal of groundwater by industries/projects in 839 over-exploited, 226 critical and 550 semi-critical assessment units. There had been a few private initiatives but the idea of “catch every drop where it falls” is yet to take off as a movement in the face of such indicators of climate change as retreating Himalayan glaciers, erratic monsoon, floods and drought.

The CGWA has directed group housing societies, institutions/schools, hotels, industrial establishments and farm houses in notified areas of the National Capital Region of Delhi and in Haryana to adopt rooftop rain water harvesting system. Group housing societies located at the NCT of Delhi, where groundwater levels were below eight metres and were still being exploited, have also been directed to adopt rooftop rain harvesting system.

The directions were issued under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

The Ministry has also urged the States to make rooftop rainwater harvesting mandatory in by-laws for new buildings.

The issue was discussed in the recently held meeting of the National Water Board of the National Water Council chaired by Water Resources Secretary Umesh Panjiar. So far rooftop rain water harvesting had been made mandatory for government institutions in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh., Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, NCT Delhi and Puducherry.

Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar are in the process of making such provisions in building by-laws.