How Panchsheel Park did it

Krishan Saigal, president of Panchsheel Park RWA says in his colony water had never been a problem. But in 2000-2001 when four tube wells in the colony dried up, the RWA took to rainwater harvesting.

india Updated: May 21, 2003 12:45 IST

Come summer and we wake up to the fact that water is scarce. This summer, harvesting water has been the buzzword. Government, NGOs and the media scream how simple it is to execute.

Lest you begin to think that it is a solution to all your water woes, here is a case of an individual who did it. His experience could serve as an eye opener.

Krishan Saigal of Panchsheel Park is a retired IAS officer and a resident of the colony since 1968. Unlike many of us, he was not new to the concept of rainwater harvesting. Having worked in an international NGOs which was into sustainable development of oceans and coastal areas, he had executed many rainwater and rooftop harvesting projects in the dalit villages in Tamil Nadu.

In his colony water has never been a problem as such. While groundwater was being utilised for gardening purposes, drinking water demands where met by the Delhi Jal Board (DJB) supplies. All was fine till in 2000-2001 when four tube wells in the colony managed by their Resident Welfare Association (RWA) dried up. That was the time when the government ordered a ban on drilling of bore wells.

"You could say we were left with no option but to harvest water. So we decided on water harvesting."

Taking the decision was the simplest thing to do. Getting the cost estimate and right design proved to be an eye opener.

"When we first approached engineers for a design in our colony, we were completely taken aback by the extraordinarily high cost quoted by some of them. It ran into crores! So we started looking for other options. With an annual budget of Rs 25 lakhs for the colony there was no way we could have gone for it."

So, he got in touch with Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a Delhi-based NGO into environmental consciousness.

"The fact that I am engineer while our RWA secretary is an architect helped. We could immediately know that the price quoted was superfluous. But I can't say that of everybody interested but with limited knowledge despite the fact that this is not, strictly speaking, an engineering project."

CSE gave them a design plan according to their colony area. Says Saigal, "Commonsense helped. Our requirements were very simple. We just wanted our groundwater table to rise. Since our colony has fair degree of un-concrete cover and natural drainage, we knew we didn't need elaborate structures."

CSE gave a design that could be put together in less than one tenth the cost. The centre adopted simple traditional techniques and required very little construction work.

The project was implemented in June 2002. It took just a month to complete. Cost of the entire system was Rs 8.00 lakh. That's simple math - less than one tenth of a crore that others has asked for.

Through a network of storm drains with recharge wells in them, the colony now harvests water to the tune of 100 litre per capita per day. A network of storm water drains in the entire residential area is utilized for harvesting rooftop rainwater and surface runoff. Thirty six recharge wells measuring 1 x 1 x 2m were constructed in the storm water drain for facilitating groundwater recharge. The quality of runoff (the flow of water), which passes through a 15m bore well installed inside the recharge well, is ensured through a filter bed comprising pebbles.

First Published: May 17, 2003 22:26 IST