Every drop needs to be conserved

Recently, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation announced that it will set up rainwater harvesting systems at 17 Metro Stations, saving a large amount of the water that flows down its station parapets every monsoon.

Previously, the National Green Tribunal had directed it to salvage the nearly eight crore litres of water that go down the drain along the length of its network.

But, is this sufficient in a city of millions where rainy days are as small as 20-30 days? Several areas have also been labelled ‘dark zones’ in terms of underground
water levels and the city remains parched every summer season.

It is fairly well known that efforts at popularising rainwater harvesting in individual households in the city have nearly failed. Owing to the high cost of setting up individual systems – which goes up to a lakh – the general populace has shown little interest in conserving water from the skies.

Resultantly, Government agencies also seem to be losing interest limiting themselves to bringing out advertisements in the media only. What else can be done on this front?

Nitya Jacob, head of policy at WaterAid, an NGO that works on water and sanitation concerns, says, “As a researcher I have worked with the DJB for long and can attest to the fact that they can be much more proactive.

Just taking up some model projects to implement rainwater harvesting like Varunalay is not enough. It has tobe a city-wide campaign.”

“At the same time, I would recommend that the Government simultaneously approach institutions and RWAs where rainwater harvesting can be implemented on a larger scale and a far bigger quantity of water can be rescued.

The systems must be put in place in parks and gardens too and definitely roads which cover a sizeable surface area of the city.”

Govind Singh, a research scholar on environmental studies is in favour of geographical studies to map those areas which are most “water-scarce.” “Some areas like Chhattarpur are absolutely in the red in terms of underground water.

They desperately need in-depth studies on how they can be recharged using mediums like rainwater harvesting.

Simultaneously, for residential plots which takeup a large amount of area, rainwater harvesting must be made mandatory by law.”

Mamata Singh of NGO Force, which has been helping DJB with rainwater harvesting efforts for long, says, “Unfortunately, the initiative cannot be one sided.

Some enthusiasm has to be shown by people as well. We cannot come down to a situation in which Chennai landed some years back and then start thinking about
rainwater harvesting.”

“Also, the Government must actively promote rainwater conservation not just in summer but throughout
the year.”      

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