Parched Ranchi to fine home owners for not harvesting rainwater
People in the Jharkhand capital risk paying a fine if their homes don’t have a rainwater harvesting system from May 1, which is part of the government’s efforts to promote water conservation and replenish the city’s groundwater sources.ranchi Updated: Apr 16, 2016 13:28 IST
People in the Jharkhand capital risk paying a fine if their homes don’t have a rainwater harvesting system from May 1, which is part of the government’s efforts to promote water conservation and replenish the city’s groundwater sources.
In a city with more than 300,000 houses, merely 100 homes have installed the system.
But new building bylaws, which have been approved by the state cabinet on February 24, stated that house owners will have to pay 1.5 times more holding tax if they fail to set up a system to store rainwater. The official notification is expected soon.
“If a person has constructed a house with a 3,000-square feet carpet area on principal main road, he will pay an annual holding tax of Rs 10,800. If he has not set up a rainwater harvesting system, he will pay 1.5 times more as fine, meaning a total holding tax of Rs 16,200,” an urban development department official said.
The government’s push for water conservation stems from a warning by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) that Ranchi could face a Latur-like drought situation if its underground sources were not replenished and over-dependence on deep borewells not stopped.
The withdrawal rate of groundwater is much higher than the amount going in to replenish the deep aquifers as Ranchi is going through a phase of rapid urbanisation.
“If this rampant exploitation continues, the water reserve could be exhausted in the next 10 years,” said TVN Singh, the CGWB’s state unit officer incharge.
The city is struggling with acute water crisis as tube wells, wells and other sources have dried up in many parts because of groundwater depletion while some localities are getting tap water just once a week. The situation will worsen after summer peaks.
In upmarket localities such as Kanke, Morahbadi, Doranda, Hatia, and Harmu, the groundwater level has been depleting 1 to 1.5 metres every year, a CGWB report said.
A government survey revealed that Ranchi’s groundwater table has gone down by 8.94 metres between 2009 and 2014, the highest in the state.
Rainwater harvesting is the long-term solution, it suggested. “The rainwater harvesting system costs anything between Rs 20,000 and Rs 60,000 depending on the size of pits and materials,” said SLS Jageshwar, a former director of the state groundwater directorate.
But the cost-effective system has become a victim of people’s lack of will and ignorance.
“The rules say an occupancy certificate for a house cannot be issued if it doesn’t have rainwater harvester. But compliance is poor as the municipal corporation and the Ranchi Regional Development Authority (RRDA) don’t implement the rule stringently,” water department secretary AP Singh said.
The municipal corporation’s assistant executive, Ram Krishna Kumar, blamed it on the absence of a strict law for the slack implementation of the rainwater rule. He said the new rules will be implemented from May 1. But the new building bylaws will hopefully change the scenario.