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World Environment Day: Pune’s eco-warriors saving the blue drops to stay green

With World Environment Day on June 5, HT looks at housing societies in the city which are ready for the monsoon with their rainwater harvesting projects

pune Updated: Jun 03, 2018 16:29 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
According to Sanskriti Menon, member of centre for environment and education (CEE), Pune needs to develop a city-level strategy for protecting areas which have a natural recharge mechanism and should create recharge structures wherever required.(RAHUL RAUT/HT PHOTO)

June 5 is celebrated as World Environment Day. Keeping this in mind, we bring to you five societies that have incorporated rainwater harvesting efficiently. HT surveys them to check how installing a rainwater harvesting project benefitted the societies and their residents.

The Pune municipal corporation (PMC), in its policy for eco-housing, had offered a five per cent rebate in property tax to societies which have a rainwater harvesting system. Acwadam, mission groundwater and centre for environment education have been conducting awareness drives as well as studies on the groundwater situation in Pune. “Some areas of Pune have adequate natural water table recharge mechanism while some other areas need artificial water recharge,” said Sanskriti Menon, member of centre for environment and education (CEE).

According to Menon, Pune needs to develop a city-level strategy for protecting areas which have a natural recharge mechanism and should create recharge structures wherever required. Another solution is to develop strategies and techniques to avoid groundwater pollution. Managing and monitoring the usage of groundwater is also important as it will give the authorities an insight on how much water a person/society is using and how much is going waste.

“A science-based approach in ground water management, which involves the public, is required. For this, we are initiating a citizen science drive to gather information about the water levels in different seasons in different dug and bore wells in the city. We appeal interested people to get in touch with us to be part of the citizen science study,” she added.

Lunkad Sky Lounge, Kalyaninagar

Residents of Lunkad Sky Lounge in Kalyaninagar have successfully installed rainwater harvesting system on their premises. The society also has eight boreholes to help recharge natural aquifers and groundwater. ( Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO )

Lunkad Sky Lounge is a society of 200 flats and six buildings. They opted for rainwater harvesting three years ago. “We took baby steps by installing the rainwater harvesting system only in two buildings,” said Nitin Warty, chairman of the society.

“We wanted to first see the results and it was a test run for us to also convince other society members that this was a good move. We spent almost Rs 1 lakh for installing the system. Then once the society members were convinced with the results, we installed it in all other buildings. We chose to install the rainwater harvesting system in the society because the civic body’s water supply was not adequate. The total requirement for 200 flats is approximately two lakh litres of water daily, while PMC was only able to supply one lakh litres of water every day. We used to get the rest of water through water tankers, but it was a huge nuisance and costed a lot of money. Four months after opting rainwater harvesting, we were saving quite a lot on water tanker costs.

Now, even though PMC’s water supply is still at one lakh litres per day, the water necessities of the society is balanced by the water we harvest through the system. We are able to draw more than one lakh litres of water from the system and don’t face water shortage now. The society also has eight bore holes to help recharge the natural aquifers and the ground, besides three bore wells fitted with automatic sensors which limit wastage of water.

Rahul Park, Warje

Rainwater harvesting system at Rahul Park housing society in Warje. ( Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO )

Shailesh S Kulkarni, chairman of Rahul Park society, is very pleased with his decision of installing rainwater harvesting system in the society two years ago. “Ours is an eight-year-old building with 126 flats. Four years ago, due to water scarcity, we had dug a bore well in our society. But within one year, the discharge of water from the bore well reduced to almost five minutes a day. We then had an analysis done of our terrace water discharge and contemplated whether we could implement a rainwater harvesting system and use the terrace water to charge the bore well. With this thought, we installed a rainwater harvesting system,” said Kulkarni.

Society members have always been ready to help and support the great initiative to conserve water and even other eco-friendly initiatives. The society has covered almost 13,000 square feet terrace area in the water harvesting system and it cost approximately Rs 65,000. Post the implementation of rainwater harvesting, the bore well water discharge has increased up to three hours daily, Kulkarni added.

Rohan Nilay 2 cooperative housing society, Aundh

The society paid Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh for both the rainwater harvesting systems. The move has improved bore well water levels tremendously. ( Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO )

The society was constructed in 2009 and has two buildings with 78 flats.“We opted for rainwater harvesting in phases, with the phase one being implemented in 2012. We commissioned and installed the rainwater harvesting system and saw that it yielded good results and our bore wells were also getting recharged. Following the successful trial run, we installed the second rainwater harvesting system in the second phase in 2016, which was to improve the bore well water table,” said Girish Gholkar, chairman of the society.

The society members are very conscious of their role in helping the environment and everyone pitched in when the idea was suggested as a social responsibility, said Gholkar. Further, if we are an eco-friendly society, PMC also offers a five per cent rebate on property tax. The society paid Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh for both the rainwater harvesting systems. The move has improved bore well water levels tremendously.

Buena Vista, Baner

Buena Vista is a 12-year-old housing society with 36 flats, ranging from 2,700 sq ft to 3,200 sq ft duplexes. “We had soak pits, which were cleaned three years ago, and it was working well, but last year, we found a leak in the soak pit from the septic tank. We tried every method to mend it, but finally had it capped and a new pipe line was laid for transporting water from the terrace, pathway and main entrances to the rainwater harvesting chamber. Then we added another rainwater harvesting chamber at the cost of Rs 20,000,” said Prashant Vinod Khinvasara, chairman of the society.

This year, they have dug another rainwater harvesting chamber, filling it with bricks, stones, sand and mesh, and spent around Rs 70,000 on a pipeline chamber and other miscellaneous work which now links the rainwater harvesting to the society’s bore well. The new pipeline will help recharge the bore well, but it will be tested this monsoon and residents are hoping that their plan is a success.

Sucasa, Wakad

Sucasa is a five-year-old society with 183 flats. “We opted for rainwater harvesting in 2016 to conserve rainwater and recharge aquifers. We made sure that our bore wells were brought back to life, which were drying up during summers. It was not difficult to convince members of our society as most of the members were sensitive towards environment,” said Sudhir Deshmukh, chairman of Sucasa.

The society spent around 1.85 lakhs for five separate recharge pits with a scientific approach of settling tanks and filters. “Our bore wells were almost dry and we could not even get 20 minutes of water supply before rainwater harvesting. But this year, after installing the system, we have two bore wells that are fully operational, thus helping is reduce water accumulation in basement parking.”

Yash Ravi Park society on Handewadi road, Hadapsar

Vaibhav Mane, chairman of Yash Ravi Park society, took the decision to install a rainwater harvesting in their society two years ago. The society is eight years old and has 334 flats.

“We did not have any problem in convincing society members for everyone has persevered through the water shortage problem that our area faces. We have very low pressure pipelines from PMC, which affects the supply of water to our society. The summers are the worst and water tankers was our only option. We had to call three to four tankers every day. We opted for rainwater harvesting, which cost us around Rs 1 lakh, to tackle this water shortage. Ever since the move, the water level has increased satisfactorily up to 20 feet and has reduced our dependency on water tankers.

First Published: Jun 03, 2018 14:28 IST