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Capital Crime: Refusal To Tap Rains | Delhi News

Posted on October 31, 2018 by Rajkumari Abha
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NEW DELHI: With the monsoons approaching, Delhi appears ill-prepared yet again to tap the 611mm of rainfall it normally receives, with very few government and private establishments complying with the mandatory need to install rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems. Taking note of the decline in the city’s groundwater table in 2017, the National Green Tribunal had directed schools and colleges too to adopt RWH failing which they could face fines. The panel tribunal has since levied fines totalling Rs 5 lakh. Till March, 605 of the 1,695 private schools, 115 of 215 government-aided schools and 200 of the 1,100 government schools were yet to comply with the directions.

It is also compulsory for residences built on 500 square metres of land to install RWH systems, but there is hardly any checking of their efficacy by Delhi Jal Board. Intach’s natural heritage division recently found RWH structures installed in gated colonies and housing societies to be non-functional. “While in most cases, the system might not have been installed properly, the big problem was improper maintenance. RWH has to be implemented rigorously, not as a token gesture,” said Manu Bhatnagar, principal director, Intach.
DJB’s three rain centres at RK Puram, Lajpat Nagar and Dwarka are as ignored as the setup they hope to promote. “We only receive 3-4 queries a day. While we have made efforts to popularise rainwater harvesting and approached RWAs and gated colonies, people are still unaware of how to install the systems and the rules that mandate them,” said Jyoti Sharma, founder of NGO FORCE, with whom DJB jointly runs the rain centres.
NGT recently appointed a committee to collect groundwater samples in Delhi and study the methodology of how to recharge the aquifers after a plea alleged that RWH structures installed by the municipal corporations and other agencies were contaminating water.
“The laws are in place, but the structures are not being monitored,” pointed out Sushmita Sengupta, programme manager, Centre for Science and Environment. “We have advised bodies like DJB to inspect RWH structures before the monsoons and the find out how effective they have been later. Unless this is done, most of these will exist only on paper.”
DJB contended that penalties were being imposed for non-compliance. “Any new construction of 100 sq m and above is recommended to incorporate RWH in its plan. When a consumer applies for a water connection, this information is given to them along with a 10% rebate on water bill for those agreeing. Constructions of 500 sq m or above have no option but to comply or face a fine 1.5 times the water bill,” a DJB official said.
According to the water utility, around 11,635 of its 23 lakh connections are being penalised every month for failure to install RWH on their premises. “The water meter readers can be asked to get the penalty terminated once the RWH system is put in,” the official said.
In its last meeting, DJB cleared a proposal to empanel qualified agencies or institutions to increase awareness about utilising rainwater. “The empanelled organisation will conduct rigorous campaigning and set up camps to instruct people about these initiatives. They will also inform people about the assistance and rebates provided by DJB,” the official said. “We, however, need more manpower to ensure that all consumers install rainwater harvesting systems.”