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BMC's Rainwater Harvesting projects a damp squib

The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) set up the Rainwater Harvesting department with the idea that this could help the city save water and implement programmes initiated by the agency. However, the city authority has failed miserably in keeping its motto alive. Of 210 projects that the BMC took up way back in 2009-2010, today very few have functional rainwater harvesting systems. 


Every drop counts: Rainwater harvesting is more of a plumbing job than a technical job. Make sure your building has a facility for two tanks that can be used to purify and store water. File pic

Ramesh Bambale, Deputy Municipal Commissioner (Special Engineering), said, “We had implemented the systems in around 210 buildings of the BMC, including hospital buildings and school buildings. But the maintenance is carried out by that particular department for eg. Schools are to be maintained by the education department and hospitals to be maintained by health department, we don’t take care of the maintenance of these buildings.”

When the civic officials were questioned about the sorry state of the rainwater harvesting systems, they quickly passed the buck to others. In 2009, after the colossal drought the previous year, BMC decided to set up rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems in all municipal buildings such as schools, hospitals and employee quarters.

The administration even stated that private builders should also set up similar systems failing which the BMC will hold back the occupancy certificates. Interestingly, the BMC doesn’t even have data on the number of private buildings that have set up RWH systems.

Janki Pandya, Associate Fellow at Observer Research Foundation, who was working on a report on MCGM’s Rainwater Harvesting Cell, said, “In reality the rainwater harvesting is a myth as not a single municipal building has a functional system. Moreover the administration doesn’t have any data on how many buildings have the system, the figure of 210 buildings is only on paper.”

Most of 210 projects started in 2009-2010 are in a sorry state right now, with very little clarity on which authority is responsible for their upkeep.

The BMC had started with 210 projects in the year 2009-2010 when the department came into existence, which according to the report don’t function anymore. However, the administration claimed they have been implementing RWH system in every new construction undertaken by the BMC.

Mayor setting an example
Official residence of the Mayor, Abhishek Towers in Goregaon (East) has a rainwater harvesting system installed in its premises. This project has helped residents save water, which can be used during a crisis situation. However, there has been no assistance at ward level to maintain it.

how to set up a rainwater harvesting system
RWH is more of a plumbing job than a technical job as all the outlets from the terrace are connected through a pipe to an underground tank that stores water.
>> Make sure your building has a provision for an underground tank. If it is already fitted with a borewell, then these pipes can be easily connected to the same.
>> Fit the underground tank with filters that can be used to purify the rainwater being collected in them.
>> Build another tank to store the filtered water.
>> Install an electric sensor in the artificial tank that can signal when the level of water reaches a particular mark.
>> RWH agencies offer advice on how to ensure the sensors are fitted well, make sure you consult them.
>> It is important that you share the responsibility of installing RWH systems with the authorities.
>> The cost of the project may vary between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1.5 lakh depending on the locality you live in.  

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