Deadline for rainwater harvesting extended to March 2023 following low compliance

Published on Oct 11, 2022 11:41 PM IST

RWH systems were made mandatory in 2012, and non-compliance attracts a penalty of 1.5 times the plot’s water bill. However, if such a system is installed by the property, a 10% rebate is provided in the water bill, under regulation 50 of the Delhi Water and Sewer (Tariff and Metering) Regulations, 2012

A rainwater harvesting pit in Delhi. (HT Archive)
A rainwater harvesting pit in Delhi. (HT Archive)

The Delhi government has extended to March 31, 2023 the deadline for installing rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems in plots sized above 100 square metres in the city, citing low levels of compliance and the need to create more awareness.

“The decision is expected to give relief to many people across the Capital. The Delhi Jal Board (DJB) in this meeting decided that it will raise more awareness regarding the benefits of the rainwater harvesting system to the people of Delhi. At present, the government has taken this decision in view of the difficulties being faced by the consumers in the installation of the rain water harvesting system,” a government official said.

RWH systems were made mandatory in 2012, and non-compliance attracts a penalty of 1.5 times the plot’s water bill. However, if such a system is installed by the property, a 10% rebate is provided in the water bill, under regulation 50 of the Delhi Water and Sewer (Tariff and Metering) Regulations, 2012.

The Delhi Jal Board in 2019 also decided to make it mandatory to install an RWH structure for obtaining a new water connection in case of properties above 100sqm.

Properties built after the cut-off date of July 28, 2001 were expected to install RWH systems by March 31, 2020, while and older houses were provided one year to comply. This deadline was extended by six months after RWAs and citizen organisations met and requested the government for more time. The Delhi government later extended the deadlines in 2020 and 2021, citing the Covid pandemic.

Delhi receives an annual average rainfall of 774 mm and is estimated to have the potential to collect 917 million cubic metres rainwater for recharging the depleting ground water levels in the water-stressed city. However, the compliance to these rainwater harvesting rules remains minimal. Data from the DJB shows that from July 1, 2017 to present, only 2,430 consumers have availed of the 10% rebate for installing a RWH system.

Deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who heads the DJB, said that participation of the public is crucial in the effort to harvest rainwater. “For the installation of the rainwater harvesting system in Delhi, we are providing a 10% rebate on the water bill along with slab-wise financial assistance up to 50,000. More will be made aware by the officials about these incentives,” he said.

A senior DJB official said the board has created rain centres in each district, where anyone can visit to know about the guidelines, needs, basic structure and rebate for implementation of RWH systems. “The work was slowed due to the pandemic but now gradually it is picking up pace. DJB has achieved a near completion in installation of RWH system in its own buildings,” the official said.

Jyoti Sharma, head of FORCE-- a Delhi based a water conservation and sanitation organisation -- said that if the administration keeps extending the deadline, people will stop taking them seriously as no penal provisions are enforced. “The deadlines should not be extended repeatedly. However, it is true that people in small plots with high built up area are facing problems. The pit requires retrofitting in such small plots while seepage can also be an issue. Many suggestions have come in the form of community water harvesting pits when people in an area can come together and build larger pits in their neighbourhood. The water savings can be allocated to people,” she added.

The water utility has also considering alternative models of RWH system. “An inline rainwater harvesting system has also been considered. Under this model, it is possible to supply rainwater directly to the borewell instead of digging the pits for water harvesting. Under this system the rainwater gets filtered inside the pipe itself, so there is no need to separate it. It is also much cheaper than the traditional rainwater harvesting model,” the DJB official quoted above said.

The Delhi government has stated that it is also considering adopting Danish models for RWH in Delhi, under which soak pits are made in the ground. When it rains, rainwater is collected through these soak pits, which percolates underground at a high rate to increase groundwater levels, a government official said. Earlier in June, Delhi CM Kejriwal held meetings with Denmark’s ambassador to India Freddy Svane to collaborate in this regard.

The DJB has also approved a 271 crore project to replace the 40-year-old water pipeline of the Bhagirathi plant. Kejriwal stated that with the replacement of this 20-km pipeline, 130 MGD of clean Ganga water will be delivered to lakhs of people residing in east Delhi. “This decision will prove to be a milestone in the direction of providing 24x7 water to people of Delhi.” he tweeted.

Sisodia said that in order to meet water demand in the future, the size of the pipeline will be increased for 15-20% additional carrying capacity.

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