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Rainwater harvesting is the way forward for Bangalore

Divya Gandhi

Economic incentives sought for those installing RWH systems


  • BWSSB steps up campaign for rainwater harvesting
  • Bangalore receives 3,000 million litres of rain annually



    RAIN BARREL: Rainwater harvesting requires the simplest of technologies.

    Bangalore: "If arrangements for rainwater harvesting are not made, BWSSB will not sanction fresh connections," reads a circular issued two months ago by the Chairman of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board to all executive engineers. The engineers have to ensure that builders and owners of new buildings first put a rainwater harvesting system in place before they seek a water supply connection.

    The interest in rainwater harvesting over the past few months has been unprecedented in Bangalore, from not only government authorities but also ordinary residents, especially in the new Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike areas where water pipes have not yet been laid and groundwater is depleted.

    Impending water crisis

    This is in anticipation of "a clear and impending water crisis", according to S. Vishwanath of Rainwater Harvesting Club.

    "I used to receive no more than two calls a week from residents inquiring about rainwater harvesting. But over the last three months I have been receiving at least 25 emails and phone calls every day from residents," says Mr. Vishwanath, and he estimates that Bangalore has at least 5,000 buildings with rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems.

    Advantages irrefutable

    The advantages are irrefutable. Sanjay Singh installed his RWH system for Rs. 2,000, as part of his house plan three years ago. His house in Singapura, Byatarayanapura, receives no BWSSB water, and 20 to 25 families depend heavily on the dwindling supplies of a solitary community borewell. Rainwater, he says, has changed his life substantially. "For four to five months in a year we do not need to use the borewell at all. Sometimes just five minutes of rain has yielded us as much as 500 litres of water," he says.

    Flooding averted

    Recharging apart, flooding has been averted in some areas in Bangalore, such as Lavelle Road and Richmond Road, thanks to the recharge wells installed by the Bangalore Club at the entrance and exit.

    But economic incentives to those who install RWH systems and not just legal orders will help in its promotion, says Mr. Vishwanath. After all, the BWSSB will save expenses also, especially on substantial electricity bills incurred from pumping Cauvery water.

    Water subsidy

    "The production cost to the Board for 25 kilolitres of water (the amount of water a family consumes a month on average) is Rs. 590. A consumer is given a subsidy of Rs. 375, which means a loss of over 60 per cent for BWSSB. The Board, therefore, ought to offer an economic incentive to people who consume less piped water."

    Compulsion

    BWSSB Chairman N.C. Muniyappa admits that it is the acute shortage of water in the city that compelled the Board to step up their campaign for RWH. "Bangalore receives 3,000 million litres of rain annually, and it is sad that all of it flows into storm-water drains. At a time when 45 per cent of the city depends on borewells, it has never been more important to recharge groundwater. In some areas in the city such as Dasarahalli borewells as deep as 800 feet yield no water. We have no option now but to rely on rainwater."

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