Following the forecast of ‘above normal’ monsoon by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) has decided to create awareness among residents to tap rainwater to tackle water crisis in the national Capital. For the purpose, two sites have been identified for the construction of two rainwater harvesting (RWH) centres at Sector 7, RK Puram and Dwarka.
At these centres, the staff will demonstrate the process by which groundwater can be recharged. Users can also refer to the official website of DJB wherein the agency has recently uploaded the updated policy on rainwater harvesting. “As a pilot project, we have also finalised nine sites at government and semi-government office complexes for developing rainwater harvesting pits. Estimates have already been prepared and work will start soon,” said Keshav Chandra, CEO of DJB. It was, however, stated that the agency has discontinued the policy of providing financial assistance to the individuals or Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs) to set up rain harvesting plants.
Meanwhile, Puneet Goel, commissioner, South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) also issued a circular in all the zones to initiate the maintenance of the RWH pits. About 200-250 such pits have been constructed by the SDMC in parks, schools and office buildings. “We have drafted an action plan and we will deploy teams to check the sites in a couple of days,” said SC Yadav, executive engineer, SDMC.
“To meet the ever increasing demand for potable water supply in city, people are exploiting the groundwater resource callously. This has resulted in an alarming fall in the groundwater levels. To control the situation, adopting RWH is the only solution,” said a senior SDMC Official.
Guide on RWH
The DJB has also made simultaneous preparations to sensitise people about water conservation. It has already drafted a booklet explaining the concept of RWH, guidelines for its implementation, benefits and other features in detail. Before the onset of monsoon, the agency is planning to distribute these booklets through various modes including meter readers.
“We will emphasise on distributing the booklets in south and southwest districts in large numbers considering these have been declared as ‘notified zones’ by Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) due to depleting groundwater resources. We will be roping in the local RWAs as well as area representatives to distribute these booklets,” said Chandra.
Plans have also been made to organise workshops to extensively promote rainwater harvesting programmes. This will be followed by a series of advertisements through outdoor and print media.
However, activists believe that these endeavours will not bring any results unless measures are taken to implement the existing rules and regulation strictly. “Despite making the rainwater harvesting system mandatory by the ministry of urban development and poverty alleviation (Delhi Division) in 2001 for all new constructions with a plot size of more than 100sqm, the results are not exciting. Reason? There is no system of penalising residents who don’t follow these notifications,” said Anil Sood of NGO Chetna.
In 2007 , the DJB had also issued a notice saying that for all new water connections it was mandatory for the applicant to make rainwater harvesting arrangements according to the modified building bylaws. “But people are violating the building bylaws and not constructing the rainwater harvesting pits due to lack of enforcement of laws by the land owning agencies,” said a senior DJB official. Unfortunately, the agency itself has no exact data to support their claims.
While visiting some RWH pits in south Delhi last year, the members of United Residents Joint Action (URJA) found that these pits didn’t exist anymore and had been concretised due to callousness of authorities. To promote the concept of RWH, URJA is providing funds and assisting RWAs in maintaining and recharging the pits. “We have already covered 25 pits in Defence Colony, Vasant Kunj, Sainik Farms and CR Park. The drive started last year and this year we are planning to cover more pits. But people also need to understand their responsibility for saving the natural resource,” said Atul Goel, president of URJA.