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Monday , May 01 , 2000
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Going back to underground tanks for water

Tanvir Siddiqui

AHMEDABAD, April 30: Underground water tanks (tanka), a common feature in the city till a century ago, are being revived for conservation of rain water. And, if things go the way the Khadia Itihas Samiti is planning, this will happen before the onset of monsoon. A survey has already been conducted and its report is claimed to be encouraging.

There are 65 underground tanks in 19 pols along a small stretch from Khadia old police chowky to Bala Hanuman temple alone. The Samiti, a local organisation headed by Health Minister Ashok Bhatt, formed a committee in March to survey tanks in the area. The 11-member committee has come out with interesting findings.

Laboratory analysis of the water stored in these tanks has been found to be of much better quality than that prescribed by the World Health Organisation and ISI, committee member Ashutosh Bhatt said. Hardness is almost absent in the harvested rain water.

Though bacteria has been found in the water, it is due to the long duration of storage and can be eliminated by using chlorine, he said.

The survey followed a meeting chaired by Ashok Bhatt on February 20 at C T High School where it was decided that such tanks could be of great help in resolving the water crisis.

Deputy engineer in AMC Mukesh Modi conducted the survey. The committee has suggested that local MLAs and councillors' grants can be diverted for repair and revival of these tanks.

Since water in these tanks has very little alkalinity and is colourless, it has been found hygienic. ``Earlier people used this water and remained free from illnesses like kidney disorders, intestinal diseases, skin ailments and hair loss etc,'' Ashutosh Bhatt said.

A known method of conserving water in Gujarat since two centuries, a typical underground tank has the capacity to store one lakh gallons of water, which is enough to meet the daily needs of a family of 10 for an entire year, says Ashutosh Bhatt. Bhatt himself has one such tank in his house. The rain water is routed through a copper pipe from the rooftop to a chamber below the plinth level. This chamber is connected with the main underground tanks through a slanted inlet pipe. The entire tank is roofed at the plinth level and it also serves as an open courtyard in the house and a manhole cover with a lid serves as an opening to draw water. The other side of the tank roof has an opening for removal of sludge. The bottom can be approached through stone or cast iron steps and the sloppy floor leads to a sump in a corner.

Meanwhile, Prof Kulbhushan Jain of the Centre for Environment Planning and Technology (CEPT) has expressed reservations about the efficacy of the system in the present polluting atmosphere. The rain water harvested should be pure and, earlier, people could ensure this by letting the initial showers drift away. ``But, today, thanks to pollution, dust and dirt on our rooftops, it will not be easy to ensure the purity of water,'' he opined.

He, however, agreed that recharging of ground water was important and the government should lay more emphasis on collecting rain water by constructing percolation wells in open spaces.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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