Govt to harvest rainwater on rooftops of PMAY buildings
The Centre is working on an ambitious plan to turn rooftops of all public buildings, schools and houses built under its flagship affordable housing scheme, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY), into structures to harvest rainwater, according to officials aware of the development.
The Union rural development ministry issued a circular this month saying necessary infrastructure to harvest rainwater can also be built using funds under the government’s flagship rural job guarantee scheme — Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS).
In a letter to the states, the ministry underlined that over 400,000 sq meter space would be available to harvest rain water when over 15 million houses under PMAY are complete by 2022.
PMAY was expanded in February and the government has set itself the target of building 15.5 million houses under the scheme over the next three year to ensure that every poor person in rural areas has a house by the time the country celebrates 75 years of Independence in 2022.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June called addressing water scarcity in the country one of the key areas of focus for his government. He cited the formation of the Jal Shakti ministry and said it underlined how his government took the issue of water shortage seriously.
India, which is home to 17% of the world’s population but has only 4% of its freshwater resources, will be extremely susceptible to water scarcity by 2050, according to the 2018-19 Economic Survey.
Rural development secretary Amarjeet Sinha said that rainwater harvesting is already an approved job under MGNREGS. “But the states wanted clarification if such works can be done in public buildings. So, we told them that they can do so. Also, special emphasis on rooftop rainwater harvesting should be given in areas where the monsoon is scarce,” said Sinha.
Under the Centre’s plan, roofs will be fitted with pipes to bring water to tanks built on the ground. “There would be, in fact, two types of structures. One for holding water and the other for pits if people want to recharge ground water. The local authorities will have a free hand in deciding which structure they want to build using the MGNREGS money,” said Kamran Rizvi, a joint secretary in the Union rural development ministry who handles MGNREGS.
According to the World Bank data, India’s renewable freshwater resources per capita were 75% of China’s in 1962. By 2014, India’s per capita water came down to 54% of that of China.
Officials said a large-scale effort to conserve rainwater was earlier absent in the policy framework. States such as Odisha have norms under which all newly constructed buildings should have structures to harvest rainwater.
A member of Parliament from Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal, Bhartruhari Mahtab, said: “The Odisha government has a rule for rooftop rainwater harvesting and groundwater recharge in urban areas. All new buildings should have that facility in the state.”
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