His motivation to harness rainwater came from one of CSE's publications, Dying Wisdom, which vividly documented age-old water harvesting systems of communities in India. Today, he is deeply involved in sensitising his neighbours.
C/o Cancer Care Clinic
Q 13, Sneh Nagar, Yadav Colony,
Brig Jagdev Singh
A proposal was prepared by CSE for reviving the dried up tube wells. In the plan, the casing pipe of the tube well is slotted, so as to facilitate easy recharging. Filter beds comprising sand and gravel are provided to take care of silt and sediments. The entire plan, for an area of 285 square meters with an annual average water harvesting potential of 1.47 lakh litres, was completed within a cost of Rs 7,500. While speaking about the expected benefits, he said, "I hope that the water table will go up." His hopes will come true; if few others keep joining this conservation drive everyday.
Brig. Jagdev Singh
A-11/4, Vasant Vihar,
D V Subramanaian
In 2000, during a talk in the Indian Meteorological Society, Chennai, he became the first person to speak about the need to divert rainwater from the flyovers and the roofs of Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) stations for recharging, which was accepted. This physics postgraduate has 40 projects to his credit till date and is still going strong.
Flat No 8, Krishna Kutir,
11, Justice Sundaram Road, Mylapore,
K R Gopinath
Gopinath has also set up a firm called KRG Rainwater Harvesting Company to promote rainwater harvesting in urban areas and farms. It has a technical tie-up with TAHAL Consulting Engineering Company, Israel, which is one of the leading water conservation companies of the world. On November 19, 2001 his contributions were honoured with the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini award, 2001 by B N Singh, ex-governor of Tamil Nadu in a function organised on the occasion of late prime minister Indira Gandhi's birth anniversary at New Delhi.
K R Narayanan
The water requirements of the presidential estate are huge since there are about 7,000 people residing in the estate. Approximately 3,000 people visit the presidential premises everyday. The Mughal Gardens in the estate require a lot of water. The total demand is about 2 million litres of water per day (730 million litres per year). This demand is met through the New Delhi Municipal Corporation supply and the estates own borewells.
Since about 35 per cent of the water requirements are being met through groundwater sources, there had been an alarming decline of groundwater levels in the estate. Levels have gone down by 2 to 7 m in the past decade, with one well running dry.
The rainwater endowment of the area is 811 millions litres annually. Estimated cost of installing the system is Rs 20 lakh. The following measures are planned for the estate:
• Rainwater from the northern side of roof and paved areas surrounding Rashtrapati Bhavan is diverted to an underground storage tank of 1 lakh litre capacity for low quality use.
• Overflow from the one-lakh litre capacity rainwater storage tank mentioned above is diverted to two dugwells for recharging. Rainwater from the southern side of the roof is diverted for recharging a dry open well. Rainfall runoff from the staff residential area is also diverted to the dry well. Water passing into the recharge well is passed through a desilting tank to remove pollutants. The nine-lakh litre capacity swimming pool in the estate is planned to be connected to the dry dug well, so that during periodic emptying of the pool, water can be used for recharging instead of being drained away.
• 15 m deep recharge shafts will be constructed in the staff residential area. Rainwater available from rooftops, roads and parks will be used for recharging.
• A johad is a crescent-shaped bund that is built across a sloping catchment to capture the surface runoff. Water accumulating in the johad percolates in the soil to augment the groundwater. Johads have traditionally been used in Rajasthan for harvesting water. A johad is planned to be constructed near the Mughal Gardens.
Lakshmi Narayanan, Shweta and Uma Maheshwari
They use simple methods to catch rain, while also trying to fully utilise the existing facilities. As Lakshmi explains, first we look for existing facilities like pipes, wells, sumps and tanks. Then we draw up the plan with Jeyakumar's guidance. Following this principle, a 15 years old septic tank was converted into a rainwater storage tank in Thomas Nagar. Three pipes from the terrace are connected to a filter tank filled with pebbles, sand, charcoal and layered with netlon mats and a bucket, thus cutting the cost. They do significantly realise that there is no one model for all the projects. They can bet on every project and Chennai is certainly going to have watery days ahead.
Anna University, Chennai
M N Mitra
One unique feature of TRY's work that deserves particular attention is the use of baby wells. "If all the shop owners in the crowded area of Pondy Bazaar build one baby well each, the problem of water logging could be solved", says Mitra. Moreover, while 100 storm drains cost over Rs 48 lakhs, 100 baby wells will just need Rs 8 lakhs.
Flat No 22, Temple View Apartments,
Dr Vasudev Nagar Extension,
Chennai 600 041
To achieve the goal, a fund-raising campaign was launched. Pammel women went from door to door seeking contributions. "We accepted whatever sum was given. One person contributed a rupee, which we accepted gratefully," shared Mahalakshmi Janarthanan, a resident. To attract the attention of the people, the fund raisers used a catchy line, 'Oru addiku munnuru rooba' - which literally means "Rs 300 for one foot (of the temple tank wall)". However, adi in Tamil also means a beating, thus, making many residents laugh at the pun and contribute the requisite amount.
Sri Sankara Vidyalaya, the Exnora Innovators Club, the Rotary Club, Pammal Tanneries Association and a few individuals were the major contributors. About Rs 13 lakhs were raised through this campaign. The ease with which the community mobilised itself to collect funds was the direct result of the change in the mindset of the people, who had experienced the positive impact of implementing rainwater harvesting in their houses. Initially they used to say, 'Namakken vambu?' (why bother?).
But when they realised that the quality of water in their wells had improved drastically, and the money they would spend on buying water resources during summer had declined - their attitudes changed. Balasubramanian rightly explains, "For any community effort to be successful, the change must be visual."
More than half the fund was utilised to strengthen the banks of the tank, by constructing a wall around it. This measure was taken up to protect the tank from degeneration in the future. In September 2001, the works began and within three months the project was successfully completed, despite heavy rains. Seeing the people's enthusiasm, the administration of Kanchipuram district also joined in, by extending its support to the project. The results of the work have surprised the residents as well. Both the quality and quantity of water in the region have improved, due to the restoration of the tank.
No 5A, Plot No 105,
7th Street, Sri Sankara Nagar,
Pammal, Chennai 600 075
Tel: 2484283 / 2484841
With the assistance of pamphlets and street shows he started a campaign to generate awareness among the people. The initial response was poor but slowly hope started emerging and strengthening with the increase in people's level of awareness. "It all started from Dr Sudarshan's residence," he fondly remembers, "Although the rainwater harvesting system was installed in 1998, the yield and quality of water from his bore well improved only in 2001." He uses simple techniques. The rainwater from the roof is diverted through pipes into the filtration pit and then to the bore well for groundwater recharging. For every 1,200 sq ft, one filter is used. This success story snowballed - with more and more people coming forward to harvest rain.
Rooftop water harvesting and water management society
301, Shrisiti Apartments,
Shankar Nagar, Raipur 492 001
Ramani has set up the Akash Ganga project and introduced different types of water conservation techniques in his residence. As a result, not a single drop of water is wasted in his house, which has been developed as a model. It is also open for people to come and visit.
After retiring from ONGC, Ramani started a trust called 'Ramadies' in 2000 - offering consultative services to interested individuals and institutions. He has completed 130 projects and the number is steadily swelling.
Ramadies Charitable Trust
5 (1050), 41st Street,
TNHB Colony, Korattur,
Chennai 600 080
Shanta Sheela Nair
A woman with a mission, Nair has even included rainwater harvesting as a part of the flood mitigation and storm drain construction schemes. It was due to her efforts that rainwater harvesting was made mandatory for new buildings in 1994, and for all buildings in 2002.
To step up the campaign, information centres were put up at all district headquarters. Nair, who has earlier worked with different government departments in Tamil Nadu, has now taken her mission beyond Chennai to the rural areas.
Municipal Administration and Water Supply
Cheenai 600 009
The response of the people was encouraging", he said. He has translated Talab in Gurmukhi, so that more people can read it. "I never thought of joining or starting any organisation or group. I want to work with people on my own terms", he says. For past few years, in the months from June to September, he and a few other interested people plant new trees. Recently, he has also obtained approval from Shiromoni Gurduwara Prabandhan Committee to take up tree plantation on vast tracts of land owned by this body.
Jamalpura, Malerkotla 148023
He has also persuaded government agencies like the Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board to encourage rainwater harvesting. Over the years, his network has expanded as he extends technical assistance to interested individuals, communities and institutions. One of his well-known accomplishments is of facilitating the setting up of a rainwater harvesting system in Padmanabha Nagar in Adyar, a residential colony, with active participation of the people. This has resolved the neighborhood's persistent drinking water problem.
Sitalakshmi Raghavan Memorial Social and Charitable Trust
D 15, Bayview Apartments,
Kalakshetra Colony, Besant Nagar,
Chennai 600 090
Tel: 044 - 24918415
Venkatraman decided to begin with his house. To demonstrate the benefits of this technique to other residents he designed a diversion pipe (a four inch PVC pipe bend with a reducer of four inch to one inch that can be fitted with any rooftop water down a pipe of four inches in diameter) through which water can be diverted to any part of the house. Initially, to popularise rainwater harvesting among the residents, he also announced a subsidy of Rs 250 for feasibility study.
In 2001, when one night of rain filled the sumps of 4,000-litre capacity with water, people started realising the potential of rainwater harvesting. Today, 54 houses in PN are catching rain. The designs used are simple. Venkataraman explains, "Rooftop rainwater is diverted to sumps for direct usage". To reduce the cost, pipes near the sump and dug wells are used. Rainwater harvesting is also strengthening inter community bonds in PN.
As Venkatarman narrates, "When Seshadri, a PN resident decided to go for water harvesting, he realised that his neighbour - Krishnaswamy and Afzal's pipes runs near his dug well. Thus, it would be in everyone's interest to take collective action. Both of them not only agreed but also gave their financial contribution for the project." It clearly shows that water knows no boundaries of caste or religion - it stays with people, who respect and conserve it.
While sharing his views, he made some valuable suggestions to improve the system. He proposed increasing the width of the pipes carrying water from the trench on the main gate to the recharge well. This, he believes, will prevent 50 per cent of the run-off from getting wasted. Vijay feels that broken bricks should be used in the filtration bed rather than stones, as bricks have a better capacity to soak and release water.
Vijay has implemented these changes in one of the four-filtration beds at JDMC and is now looking forward to spreading the revolutionary technique across a wider spectrum.
House No 7, Staff Quarters,
Janaki Devi Mahila College
Old Rajendra Nagar
According to Alacrity's calculations, RWH alone has the potential of meeting about 30 - 40 per cent of the flat complex's annual water needs. This can be further increased to 60 per cent by reusing wastewater after in situ treatment. The wastewater is of three kinds:
• About 30 - 40 per cent of wastewater is from closets for flushing, and cannot be reused;
• About ten per cent of wastewater comes from kitchens. It is not reused, as the level of nutrients is high;
• Only the water used for bathing and washing clothes can be treated and reused for toilet flushing or groundwater recharge. It constitutes 50 - 60 per cent of the total consumption. For recharging the groundwater, the wastewater is diverted towards a specially prepared soil bed, in which semi-aquatic plants are grown. If the water is to be recycled, then the bottom of the bed is made permeable to prevent percolation.
From each complex a network of three different pipes separate wastewater at the initial stage itself. Such projects require moderate capital investment as well as minimal maintenance. In the 12 localities of Chennai where Alacrity has worked - the system has been operating smoothly. One of them is in Tambaram, an 80-flat apartment, where the system is now three years old. Here, the quality of drinking water has remained stable and a dry bore well has begun yielding. The system operates on the principle of gravity with no related problems of chemicals, smell or mosquito breeding.
In many towns, traditional dug wells are being abandoned due to contamination of the water by faecal matter from septic tanks. The Alacrity system can avoid such contamination, while reviving the usage of water from the shallow depths.
25, Thirumalai Pillai Road,
T Nagar, Chennai 600 017
Tel: 044-28251771 Fax: 044-28259406
M Mohan Rao
It will not come from the government". It was a challenge for Rao to get public support for what he was planning. But he never gave up. Rao himself went to the villagers and discussed how best the people can harness rainwater. After discussing the issues, various techniques, such as the injection method, were developed and included as a part of the mission to recharge deep dry tube wells. His calculations showed that "Even if 1,000 houses of an area of 1,500 square feet each harness rainwater, it would be enough to recharge all tube wells". The people responded. They actively participated by contributing both in cash and kind. And, the levels of groundwater rose as collaboration intensified.
Rajparis Civil Constructions Limited
Raj Court, 162 B, Greams lane, Thousand Lights,
Chennai 600 006
Tel: 044-28290038, 28290566
264, 6th Block, BEL Layout,
Banglore 560 097
Tel: 080-28381690 / 28382435
Ahmad Ali Khan
To promote efficient water management strategies, Ali has also initiated water conservation measures such as grey water recycling for gardening purposes, and a strict tapwater-usage regulating system for the buildings in the institute. He acknowledges that this immense work would not have been possible without the support and inspiration by Siraj Hussain, Vice Chancellor of the university.
Water Harvesting System in Jamia Hamdard University
Ahmed Ali Khan,
Jamia Hamdard University,
Phone: (011) 26059672/87/88 Extn: 5370 (office), 5371 (res)
Agarwal, who passed away on January 2, 2002, graduated from one of India's leading engineering colleges in 1970, but gave up a promising technical career to become a science journalist so he could explore the country's scientific and technological needs. He joined Delhi's leading English daily The Hindustan Times as a science correspondent in 1973 and soon discovered India's most evocative environmental movement - Chipko - in 1974.
The reportage of this movement not only led to a nationwide interest in environmental conservation, it also brought home to Agarwal the importance that the environment and its natural resource base hold for the local village economy and for meeting the daily needs of villagers in terms of water, firewood, fodder, manure, building materials and medicinal herbs. This was still a time when the leadership of the developing world believed that economic development must take precedence over environmental conservation. But this understanding of the relationship between the poor and their environment soon turned Agarwal into a lifelong environmentalist and a renowned environmental analyst and writer.
Water Harvesting System at Janki Devi Memorial College
Retired English Lecturer,
C-3, Janki Devi Memorial College,
Sri Ganga Ram Hospital Marg,
Old Rajender Nagar,
Phone: (011) 25741858, 25786720, (mobile) 9810840158
He believes that while artificial recharging through rainwater harvesting is essential to sustain the groundwater level, the key to good management lies in minimising use and preventing wastage. Among the many other significant measures, he has refurbished and modernised the tapwater network in the school building. Bhalla's efforts have earned many accolades for the school, including an ISO 14001-1996 and ISO 9000-2000 accredition for being the best environmentally managed institution in the capital. Water Harvesting System at Mira Model School
He successfuly convinced the members of the Managing Committee of the Society to implement the system in the South Delhi colony of Panchsheel. Panchsheel Park was in fact the first residential colony in New Delhi to adopt rainwater harvesting. Saigal and his team completed the task on their own, with technical guidance from CSE. Now Panchsheel Park is often projected by the Delhi state government as a 'model residential area'. Saigal's enthusiasm and zeal ensures that the colony is always in the limelight. For the right reasons, of course.
Water Harvesting System at Panchsheel Park
Under her leadership, the school has implemented a rainwater harvesting system in the complex. The rooftop water is diverted through drainpipes to a recharge borewell after it passes through a filtration-cum-buffer tank, which was made at a cost of Rs 1,30,000. The work was completed in May 2000, and is yielding rich dividends. Already by 2002, the groundwater table had increased by almost four metres. The quality of water has also shown considerable improvement. The school has now plans to assist rainwater harvesting projects in other municipal schools. They have also sought permission from the Delhi Development Authority for a rainwater harvesting project in the Ridge area, just behind the school.
Water Harvesting System at Shri Ram School
The Shri Ram School,
D 3 Street, Vasant Vihar,
New Delhi 110 057
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