Feeling the Heat | Bengaluru

Many prefer paying penalties to installing RWH system

BWSSB officials say over 70,000 households and commercial properties continue to pay fine.

BWSSB officials say over 70,000 households and commercial properties continue to pay fine.   | Photo Credit: FILE PHOTO

After years of coaxing through awareness programmes, it is finally the implementation of penalties that has forced thousands of residents to take up rainwater harvesting (RWH). However, officials said there are over 70,000 households and commercial properties that continue to pay fines rather than install RWH structures.

It was in 2016 that Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) implemented a series of penalties for new properties on 30x40 ft plots and those existing on 60x40 ft plots that had not installed RWH structures.

By 2017, just 67,000 properties had installed them. However, as the penalties racked up, currently over 1.12 lakh properties have installed RWH structures, said BWSSB officials.

“The penalties have worked, particularly among big consumers of water. Paying 50% or 100% of their bills makes a big difference if they are paying tens of thousands of rupees per month for water,” said Kemparamaiah, engineer-in-chief, BWSSB.

Surprisingly, over 70,884 connections have continued paying a cumulative penalty of ₹3.35 crore monthly. “For households with low water consumption, a ₹100 or ₹200 monthly penalty does not pinch much compared with the cost of installing an RWH system,” he said. On an average, an RWH system can cost a house between ₹12,000 and ₹30,000 to install, and many choose to pay incremental fines rather than a big one-time investment.

However, properties with RWH system continue to remain a small fraction of the over 9.75 lakh BWSSB connections or over 16 lakh households in the city.

Hard to gauge impact

It is hard to gauge any impact of RWH as the rate of extraction of groundwater — that is, number of borewells in use or new borewells added — exceeds the capacity of the structures installed. Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) data shows a decline of 0 to 4 m between January 2019 and January 2018.

“There may not be an overall impact, but RWH does have tremendous local impact. There are people who have managed to revive their dead borewells or are able to extract for longer periods through this,” said A.R. Shivakumar, principal investigator (RWH), Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology.

Further, while city-wide rainwater harvesting is a long-term project, he said there should be stricter enforcement and expansion of the law mandating RWH. “Many RWH structures are just in name to avoid penalty. This must be checked, while even small plots of 20x30 ft or lower can have RWH. It is a misconception that rainwater harvesting cannot be extended to all properties — there are numerous means to get over constraints of space,” he said.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 10:28:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/many-prefer-paying-penalties-to-installing-rwh-system/article26484241.ece

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