Mumbai takes to rainwater harvesting

Mumbai Nov.7. Mumbai has become the latest advocate of the concept of rainwater harvesting (RWH), following the examples of Chennai and Delhi.

Since October 1, any new building coming up on a plot of more than 1,000 square metres should have a rainwater harvesting facility. Authorised consultants will prepare the design of the proposed RWH systems.

``We are also planning to rope in owners of the existing buildings as the new buildings account for 4-5 per cent of the total buildings in the city," Karun |C. Srivatsava, Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, told a seminar on `RWH in urban habitats' organised here by the Maharashtra Government and the Western Regional Environmental Information Centre of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).

``We are thinking of various policy packages including concessions in property tax. We are working out the economics," Mr. Srivatsava added.

Later, he told The Hindu that the emphasis of the Municipal Corporation was more on collection and storage of rainwater rather than on percolation. As for space constraints that characterised Mumbai, Mr. Srivatsava hoped that there was enough space in 80 per cent of the city to implement RWH.

Explaining the rationale behind going in for RWH, he said the total quantum of water supply to Mumbai was 3,000 million litres a day (MLD), which worked out to 200 litres per capita a day (LPCD) for a population of 15 million. "Though this is in excess of even international norms, we still have water problems. The shortage is acutely felt in the western suburbs of the city, which are growing at a faster pace, and it is where the demand is twice the supply of 550 to 600 MLD."

Considering all the aspects, the need for RWH arose, as it would ease pressure on the civic authorities to meet the requirements of the people.

Mr. Srivatsava said the Corporation was also urging the public to take to water conservation methods. Installation of wastewater treatment plants had been made mandatory for new buildings having a plot area of more than 2,000 square metres. "It is criminal to waste water for purposes other than for domestic consumption, because 95 per cent of the total quantum of water supply to Mumbai comes from areas which are located at about 100-200 km from the city," he said.

The Maharashtra Minister for Water Supply and Sanitation, Sulekha Narayan Kumbhare, inaugurating the seminar, said her Government would perform the role of a facilitator to ensure that the promotion of RWH became a demand-driven and community-led endeavour.

Sushil Kumar Jiwarajka, Chairman of the FICCI-Western Region Council, said his organisation planned to hold road shows on RWH throughout Maharashtra. |He announced the formation of an action group, as part of the FICCI's campaign to create a network of stakeholders, in managing water resources.

The Deputy Secretary in Maharashtra's Water Supply Department, S. Thakre, said the RWH campaign in rural areas of the State was a success and it was achieved without changing the existing laws. However, in urban areas, amendments had to be made and the Government had prepared a broad framework for changes in development control rules (DCR) so that those who implemented RWH on their premises could be provided incentives and those who did not would have to bear disincentives.

K.R.Gopinath, chairman of the Chennai-based KRG Foundations, provided a perspective on the Chennai experience of RWH and said even in hard-rock pockets (a scenario familiar to Maharashtra), structures to harness rainwater could be installed.

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