Rainwater harvesting systems defunct, choked at housing societies in Pune?
While Pune’s water mafia runs a flourishing Rs 100 crore annual business by supplying water tankers and bottled water to fringe localities of the city, neither the Pune municipal corporation nor the affected housing societies are giving priority to rainwater harvesting.Updated: Jul 14, 2018 17:15 IST
Hindustan Times, Pune
Although the installation of rainwater harvesting systems is mandatory for new constructions since 2007, the Pune municipal corporation (PMC) has not paid heed to the fact that in many housing societies, rainwater harvesting installations are either defunct or substandard.
Consequently, the recharge of borewells and groundwater through rainwater harvesting has been far below optimum levels. One indication of this is the heavy dependence of housing societies and commercial establishments on water tankers and bottled water supply, especially in fringe localities. As reported by HT in its investigative series, the year-round water mafia business in Pune has bloated to the size of an estimated Rs 100 crore per annum.
“We have many societies in Baner-Sus-Mahalunge areas, including a few commercial buildings, struggling with ground water resources. In new constructions, builders have provided rainwater harvesting systems to comply with municipal norms, but in a few places, they are not well-maintained and in some others, the results are not as expected,” said Aditya Kumar Gupta, member of Sus Mhalunge residents association.
“We are still dependent on the water tanker supply, which usually costs us Rs 800 per tanker of 10,000 litres. For example, Saarrthi souvenir housing society has 246 flats, but it requires 10 water tankers per day, which costs them Rs 8,000 a day, and Rs 2.40 lakh a month to get potable water. This is happening inspite of their payment of property tax to respective government agencies and gram panchayat,” Gupta said. At Malpani Greens in Wakad, the rainwater harvesting system was found to be choked up. “All borewells are full of mud and there is little chance of revival,” a resident said, on condition of anonymity.
Rupesh Manore, civil engineer from Saarrthi group, which constructed Saarrthi souvenir, denied that their rainwater harvesting installation was substandard. “We have been providing rainwater harvesting for all our new projects over the past five to seven years following the government rule. There is no maintenance required for rainewater harvesting as we have to only construct boring pits and rainwater harvesting pits, which are of 20 metres deep. The boring wells are not for lifting water, but to increase the groundwater table,” he said.
Residents of housing societies under the Pimpri Chinchwad municipal corporation (PCMC) also reported a similar experience. “Rainwater harvesting or storm water management is not known to many societies, nor is it a part of societies handed over by builders,” said KC Garg, secretary, Pimpri Chinchwad housing societies federation.
“There are several other problems. For example, in places where the system has been provided, it is not working properly. When housing societies approach vendors or service providers in the area, they often misguide societies by quoting high amounts which are prohibitive, and societies hesitate to invest in rainwater harvesting,” Garg said.
According to him, there is a dearth of service providers who undertake filter cleaning or filter replacement and maintain the existing system. The federation had held a programme which focused more on the technicalities of recharging ground water, he said.
Is PMC checking rainwater harvesting installations?
Rajendra Raut, chief of Pune municipal corporation’s (PMC) building permission department, claimed that PMC ward officials and those from his department check and certify rainwater installations by builders in newly constructed housing societies. Citizen-activists and other informed sources, however, wondered if this was being done efficiently because the ground reality was quite different.
In an earlier interview to HT, Prashant Waghmare, city engineer, had explained that rainwater harvesting has been mandatory since December 2007 for anyone holding a 3,000 sq ft (approx) plot. The implementation began in 2008 and since then, 7,003 properties have benefited from the five per cent rebate in property tax.
According to Waghmare, before 2006, there was ample water supply in the city, and the idea of rainwater harvesting was to recharge and maintain good ground water levels to minimise the load on treated water supply. “We also wanted to control the use of treated water and reduce water wastage. Hence, it was made compulsory for societies to install rainwater harvesting systems,” he had said.
How rainwater harvesting helps raise groundwater levels
The depletion of groundwater is a serious problem and the acute water shortage in Latur a couple of year ago had highlighted the problem.The issue persists on a bigger scale in cities owing to the concretisation of the city. Rainwater harvesting is an extremely viable method to increase the groundwater level. Rainwater can be harvested by directing it to the bore wells that help recharge the groundwater. Groundwater is not an unlimited supply of water and has its own set of limitations. Rainwater harvesting is the best option and also the need of the hour.
-Milind Khadilkar,an expert in rainwater harvesting
Pune’s groundwater status
A survey conducted by the groundwater survey and development agency (GSDA) this year revealed that Pune district was ranked fourth in the state in retaining sufficient groundwater levels.
Pune district had 12 villages exhibiting depletion, which was followed by five other villages, with depletion in groundwater levels between 1m to 2m .
No village in Pune district had maximum depletion, which is categorised at 3m and above by the GSDA. Numerous wells were analysed in 13 talukas of Pune district for the survey.
First Published: Jul 14, 2018 16:50 IST