Tamil Nadu

One lakh government buildings have no RWH structures

A decade after the Tamil Nadu government made it mandatory for all buildings to have rainwater harvesting structures, a majority of government buildings themselves violate the rule, data obtained through the Right to Information Act show.

Of the 2.6 lakh-odd government buildings in the State, a mere 56,000 have functional rainwater harvesting structures.

After a high-level government review this summer sent various departments into a scramble, the rate of compliance has inched up. But more than one lakh government-owned buildings still have no rainwater-saving mechanisms.

The figures may actually be optimistic estimates as they are “self-reported,” a well-placed source said.

Some of the least compliant departments are HR&CE, Rural Development and School Education. Unfortunately, places where young minds congregate — from government-run schools and colleges to anganwadis — have the poorest record, an analysis of the data shows.

Rainwater harvesting is absent on Anna University’s Tiruchi campus. At Bharathidasan University, just six of the 76 buildings have the structures.

Among buildings that house the State’s nutritious meal programme and its anganwadis, 90 per cent of them do not have functioning RWH structures.

“The figures show that except the former Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, no one else is bothered about rainwater harvesting,” said Sekhar Raghavan, director of Rain Center. “The adoption rate among private citizens would probably be higher than the government,” he said.

Tamil Nadu’s quest for augmenting the groundwater through RWH began in 2003 when the State was in the middle of a drought. Though gains were made over the next few years, as water table data from Chennai show, the State seems to be losing ground again.

Data from the Water Resources Department show that groundwater levels have fallen in 30 of the 32 districts in the last couple of years. In some districts, the level has receded 10 metres below the ground level.

A senior government official said it was time to get into “enforcement mode”. Some departments might need a “rap on the knuckle,” he said.

“Tamil Nadu was the first State in the country to make RWH mandatory,” Mr. Raghavan said. “One should feel proud of it. But, at the grassroots, what has really happened,” he asked.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 3:45:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/one-lakh-government-buildings-have-no-rwh-structures/article6482672.ece

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