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Rainwater may replace groundwater
New Delhi, February 15 (Hemendra Singh Bartwal)

Alarmed at the steep decline in the ground water table in different parts of the country, particularly the metropolitan cities, the Union Water Resources Ministry is seriously contemplating a move to make it mandatory for all big government and private buildings, commercial complexes and multistoried apartments to install rain water harvesting systems.

Initially, the Ministry and its subordinate Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) have launched a drive to popularise the concept of rainwater harvesting among all Central and State Government departments and other organisations. Pointing out that the problem of depleting groundwater reserves has assumed gigantic proportions, the Ministry has underlined the need for recharging the aquafir by means of rainwater harvesting on a large scale.

However, if the Ministry's pleas go unheeded and no positive results are forthcoming, it may have to ensure this through legal means, by virtue of powers invested in the CGWA, that all public and private buildings in major cities are to install water harvesting systems, according to a senior official.

Union Water Resources Minister C.P.Thakur has recently written to Urban Development Minister Jagmohan in this regard urging him to issue directions that these systems must compulsorily be installed in all buildings owned by the Central Government, whether in the Capital or in the States. All such buildings are administered by the Directorate of Estates under the Urban Development Ministry and maintained by the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).

In his letter, Mr Thakur has cited the example of cities like Chennai and Hyderabad which have enacted by-laws making it mandatory for major building complexes to set up water harvesting systems on their premises to collect rain water and channelise it to charge the underground reserves.

To set an example for other departments, the Water Minister has himself taken the first step in this direction by issuing orders for all the offices under the Ministry to install the water harvesting units in their buildings. He has expressed the hope that other Ministries and State Governments too would follow the example.

Meanwhile, the response of the Urban Development Ministry to Mr Thakur's proposal is awaited, the official stated.

With a view to popularise the concept of water harvesting in the country and take it to the grassroots level, the CGWA has also launched a massive awareness drive to educate the government agencies as well as voluntary organisations and individuals about the benefits of the practice. The CGWA has also offered to help by way of technical know-how to all those who want to install the water harvesting systems.


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