‘Rainwater harvesting should be made mandatory for developers’

Brotin Banerjee, CEO & MD,Tata Housing.

New Delhi, Aug. 30

India is the top-most groundwater abstracting country in the world, double that of China, says a recent UN report. With a fast-depleting water table, the Centre is trying hard to promote conservation through rainwater harvesting. But rainwater harvesting is yet to catch up across the country. Brotin Banerjee, CEO & MD, Tata Housing, tells Business Line in an e-mail interview that it is high time rainwater harvesting is made mandatory.

Are you in favour of rainwater harvesting being made mandatory for housing developers?

As demand for water is growing rapidly and most cities are facing a water crisis, rainwater harvesting should be made mandatory across the country. In fact, it should not only be made mandatory, there should also be stringent monitoring of adherence.

Rainwater harvesting has numerous benefits, as the technology is low-cost and it empowers individuals and communities to manage their water…. It also helps in improving the overall floral system, reduces the loss of top layer of the soil, and if water is captured directly, we need not depend much on storage dams.

The bottom line for customers is: rainwater harvesting helps reduce water bills, provides 24 hours water, translating into savings of up to 200 litres a family.

Should housing developers be incentivised or should this be part of the corporate social responsibility?

The ‘right to water’ relates to basic water needs for life, a fundamental right. Housing developers have a responsibility to ensure that this right is not denied to people. A responsible builder should take up rainwater harvesting as its corporate social responsibility. However, if some means of incentive are provided, a large number of small developers are likely to implement it.

What the cost difference between rooftop and ground rainwater harvesting?

When communities come together to harvest rain, the per capita investment goes down. However, rainwater harvesting methods are site-specific and hence it is difficult to give a generalised cost.

The major components — rain and catchment area — are free. So, a good proportion of expenses would be for pipe connections. By judicious fixing of roof slopes and location of rainwater outlets, this cost can be brought down.

Which system (roof or ground), according to you, is best suited to Indian weather and living conditions?

To make rainwater harvesting a success, thorough knowledge of the following is needed: geographic location, climate, geology, soil, land use, water requirements, existing water supply system, cost of water, and so forth. In urban areas, rainwater flows away as surface runoff, which can be caught and used for recharging aquifers. Rooftop harvesting is a system of collecting rainwater where it falls. It can either be stored in a tank or diverted to an artificial recharge system. This method is less expensive, very effective also the safest way to collect rainwater

With water and vector-borne diseases rampant in India, who should be responsible for maintenance of these catchments?

As the primary source, rainwater is the purest form of water. Harvesting it will not only solve the problem of availability, but also of quality. However, certain precautions need to be taken to ensure that the stored water is not polluted. Hence, everyone concerned should be involved in maintaining the catchments.

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Published on August 30, 2012

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