Sunday, 24 April 2016




Bengaluru’s rainfall has a potential of meeting nearly 50 p.c. of the city’s annual Cauvery water allocation of 19 tmcft
If every Bengaluru household harvested rainwater, Bengaluru’s water woes would drop dramatically. Experts say Bengaluru’s annual rainfall has a potential of meeting nearly 50 per cent of the city’s annual Cauvery water allocation of 19 tmcft.

The city has around 60 rainy days in a year. Spread across 700 sq. km, it receives an average annual rainfall of 972 mm. This means the city has a potential of getting 23 tmcft of rainwater. But, with most of the lakes having dried up or are filled with sewage, the rainwater literally goes down the drain with no collection point. With roads and pavements concretised, the problem only gets compounded. But in the absence of an urban water management institution and “uninterested” service providers, Bengalureans are yet to take the concept of rainwater harvesting (RWH) seriously.
This, despite the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) making RWH mandatory in its revised building bylaws back in 2009 and Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) amending rules to make RWH mandatory for all new constructions on sites measuring 30 ft x 40 ft and existing buildings on 60 ft x 40 ft sites.

A.R. Shivakumar, principal investigator for RWH at the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Science, said unless RWH was made compulsory for both old and new buildings on sites of all dimensions, it would not gain public acceptance.
Mr. Shivakumar, who was also a member of the technical committee that framed a policy document for RWH in the State, said it was not enough to have rules and laws to make RWH mandatory. “Easy availability of water in the city is a great boon to people and the main reason for them not looking at alternative sources such as RWH,” he said.
“If the concept is taken seriously, thousands of RWH tanks spread over the city on every property and all the rejuvenated lakes would act as buffer zones to hold water and avoid flooding of storm-water drains and low-lying areas,” he explained.

* Come May 1, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board will start imposing penalty on those who have not adopted rainwater harvesting system in their buildings
* Citizens will be slapped a penalty of 25 per cent of their water bill for not adopting RWH, for the first three months from May. The penalty will double after three months and will be collected till the building adopts the system.
D.S. Rajshekar, president, Citizens’ Action Forum:
The BWSSB should first ensure all government buildings adopt RWH and penalise them if they don’t. RWH is of course required. Elected representatives with residents’ welfare associations should go door to door to popularise the system.
T.S. Vidyadhar, R.T. Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association:
There are hundreds of open spaces in the city where rainwater can be harvested such as the open space in front of the Vidhana Soudha and parks. Instead of harvesting rainwater in these spaces and allowing it to percolate into the ground through roads and pavements, the civic body has concretised this infrastructure. Having a rule only for the residents is a narrow approach.

BENGALURU, April 25, 2016
Updated: April 25, 2016 08:32 IST
A green example in concrete jungle
Largest Owner Real Estate - Development Portfolio. Of Over 20 Million Square

In this dry weather when most of the city is bone dry, ‘Sourabha’ in Vijayanagar is all green, thanks to rainwater harvesting.
“Our house is entirely dependent on rainwater for all its needs since 1994 and we do not have a piped water connection,” says A.R. Shivakumar, the house owner and principal investigator for rainwater harvesting at the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, Indian Institute of Science.

Located on a plot of 40 ft x 60 ft ‘Sourabha’ still has rainwater collected in the sump. “We are using the stored rainwater for drinking and cooking, and for all other purposes we are using the rainwater recharged in the ground,” said Mr. Shivakumar. Even the construction of the house was done with rainwater.
Rainwater falling inside the plot is being channelled through roof-top rainwater harvesting, groundwater recharging and percolation in garden area. Not a drop of rainwater falling on the plot is allowed to flow out. The need of toilet flushing is met by recirculation of used water from the washing machine.

Clean and safe water is available 24 hours, 365 days a year, and the quality of water is also periodically tested and found to be good. This family of four members needs around 15,000 litres of water a month.

Happy to Drink Fluorid-Free Water

Rainwater harvesting has not only quenched the thirst of 2,270 households in 43 villages in Madhugiri and Pavagada taluks of Tumakuru district, but has also improved their health by providing fluoride-free potable water.
Tumakuru is one of the dry districts of the State. It has no rivers and is completely dependent on rain and borewells for water.
Though borewells sunk to a depth of 1,200 to 1,500 ft provide water, the fluoride content is more than the permissible limits, especially in some villages of Sira, Gubbi, Madhugiri, Koratagere and Pavagada taluks.
BAIF Institute of Rural Development took up the Sachethana drinking water project in 2012 in Y.N. Hosakote and 30 neighbouring villages, and in 2013, in Ittige Dibbana (I.D.) Halli and 13 neighbouring villages in Madhugiri taluk.
As a result, frequent visits by villagers to the hospital have reduced.
Thimmakka of Janakaloti village in Madhugiri taluk told The Hindu, “I and my children used to visit the hospital twice a week for joint pain, body pain and other problems. But for the past three years, our health has improved after adopting rainwater harvesting.” She used to spend at least Rs. 700 a month towards medical expenses, which has now been converted into savings.
Her daughter-in-law Rajamma said, “I used to walk 1 km to get water from a well for cooking and drinking.”
Sarojamma, a beedi worker in I.D. Halli, said, “I used to wait in queues for hours to get two pots of drinking water from the public tap. Plus, because of power problem, we used to get water only around midnight.”
But now, she is saving time and also earning Rs. 1,000 more a month as compared with what she used to earn before adopting rainwater harvesting.
‘Build your own pond’

Why wait for government, says a farmer in Kolar taluk
Undeterred by drought condition, a number of farmers in the twin districts of Kolar and Chickballapur persist with agriculture thanks to rainwater harvesting.

For example, N.R. Chandrashekhar, a farmer at Nenamanahalli in Kolar taluk, constructed three ponds on his property to store rainwater. His property is lush green even now.

He constructed the ponds, popularly known as ‘Krishi honda’, with his own money. One pond measures 190 ft x 80 ft and is 18-ft deep. The water from the ponds take care of the needs of about 4 acres of land. He uses the water for mulberry and ragi crops.
His initiative has drawn widespread acclamation. Hundreds of farmers, beside officials, visit his property to learn the method he adopted to reap the yields he does even against the odds.
“Instead of depending only on governments for relief, farmers need to adopt such methods and make their life happier,” says Mr. Chandrashekhar. “Even though rain is scarce, we can store whatever we get when it showers.”
Seers show the way
While the State is under the grip of drought and people are facing hardship, seers of various mutts in north Karnataka have set an example by efficiently adopting rainwater harvesting.
Sri Guru Basava Mahamane at Managundi village, near Dharwad, which propagates the teachings of 12 century reformer Basaveshwara is self sufficient now with regard to drinking water, as the head of the mutt, Basavarand Swami, took the lead and built a rainwater harvesting tank way back in 2009. Now, despite the drought, the 65,000-litre capacity tank, Basava Sagar, which was built to harvest rainwater, has storage that will last two more months.
Two more seers, Shivakumar Swami of Mullahalli Mutt in Kundagol taluk and Siddha Shivayogi Swami of Siddhashrama of Devara Hubballi village, followed suit and built rainwater harvesting tanks this year. “These seers have set an example. Managundi Mahamane has already shown the way and is leading a water revolution in north Karnataka along with other mutts,” said Chitradurga-based water conservationist N.J. Devaraj Reddy who assisted them in adopting the technology.
Less than 3 per cent properties harvest rain
Despite an impending water crisis in Bengaluru, the concept of water conservation is yet to catch up. Only 58,502 properties have adopted the system so far, though there are more than 20 lakh properties in the city, which is less than 3 per cent.
Officials sources said although 55,000 buildings on sites measuring 60 ft x 40 ft were identified in 2011 for compulsorily adopting the system, the number has almost doubled now because several new areas are under the BWSSB’s supply zones. “The BWSSB now has 7.25 lakh connections and at least 1 lakh of these are eligible for compulsory rainwater harvesting,” sources said.
The response to the concept has been poor although the BWSSB announced attractive incentives such as a 2 per cent property tax rebate up to five years for those who adopt the system and bank loan facility for citizens to install the units.
The BWSSB also tried enforcing RWH through rules that enabled disconnection of water and sanitary lines of buildings that do not adopt the system. But this was never implemented.
It had extended the initial December 31, 2011 deadline up to March 31, 2012 for residents to adopt the system. This deadline failed as some citizens questioned the legality of the BWSSB’s threat to disconnect water and sanitary connections if people did not opt for rainwater harvesting.

Why is response poor?
Is relatively easy availability of water in Bengaluru making people lukewarm to the idea of rainwater harvesting?
“Piped Cauvery water is available at only Rs. 7 a litre up to 8,000 litres and thereafter at Rs. 11 a litre up to 20,000 litres. However, even if they do not want to use rainwater, they can at least recharge groundwater on their premises,” said BWSSB chairperson T.M. Vijay Bhaskar.
In many instances, residents put up “makeshift structures” rather than functional RWH units. They put up structures for namesake so that they get their water connection and plan sanctioned from the BWSSB and the BBMP respectively. The concept of conserving water is yet to percolate in society,” sources said.
He said it was because of this that the BWSSB would now start penalising those who do not adopt the system. “We will take up a new survey and identify more buildings that need to adopt RWH. Our meter readers and field staff have been trained to check if the building has a RWH unit and if it does not have, the penalty will be included in the monthly bill,” he said.
How to go about it
Rainwater harvesting (RWH) ensures a minimum of 120 days’ of water supply for four persons in a household annually, according to water expert S. Vishwanath.
“An average annual rainfall — on a 100 sq. m roof area — would in theory generate 80,000 litres of water, out of which about 77,600 litres could be harvested efficiently.

Experts in the city feel that although the concept of rainwater harvesting is becoming popular, policymakers, architects, engineers and the public need to be made more aware of the methods. “Since RWH is related to the soil profile and hydrogeology, specific methods have to be developed for specific sites,” he said. Demonstrations of such simple techniques as recharge pits in minor drains that are not polluted with wastewater, and recharge of open wells and borewells from rooftops should be encouraged as Bengaluru itself has more than one lakh wells.
Tips for a simple RWH system at individual houses and apartment complexes:
* Have a sump to store rainwater, apart from maintaining a clean catchment area or the rooftop to avoid bacterial growth. Install a pipeline to channel the water from the rooftop to the sump after consulting RWH experts and a plumber
* You don’t have to build a new sump, the existing one will do
* If you has a borewell, whether functioning or not, connect the rooftop with pipes and filter to the borewell. This is for recharging
* If you have an existing well, connect the pipes and filter to the well
* Place an HDPE plastic tank and collect the rainwater directly, this system is called a rain barrel
* Make a recharge well of 3-ft diameter and 10-ft depth. Do not fill it with anything. Direct the roof water into the recharge well.
* On an average, it would cost Rs. 10,000 to Rs. 20,000 for one household (excluding the sump)
In layouts, one has to additionally follow two more points:
* Connect storm-water drains to recharge wells placed at regular intervals
* Layouts at the lowest points can make a small percolation pond for storm water
(Call 91-80-41672790 or for more details)
Everyone should mandatorily visit the RWH Theme Park created on a 1.5-acre space by the BBMP at Jayanagar 5th Block and choose from the demonstrated examples. — S. Vishwanath, water expert

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Mr Shivakumar has several publications and significant number of patents, which are under commercial exploitation to benefit the society. His research experience spans over several fields and areas in applied sciences. He has a "National Award" to his credit, awarded by the Union Government of India in the year 2001 for one of his innovations. He was awarded the "Citizen Extraordinary" by Rotary International in the year 2007. The First Innovation award "Ammulya 2012" for two of his patents was awarded by Government of Karnataka in addition to other state awards and recognitions.