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Rainwater harvesting systems are of little use if they aren’t maintained properly: Environmentalist

Express News Service

NAGERCOIL: With water becoming a scarce commodity, rainwater harvesting (RWH) systems have become the need of the hour. Though such systems are mandatory to get permission to construct buildings, environmentalists feel this is not enough, as it is equally important to ensure periodical maintenance of the structures.

Ask environmentalist RS Lal Mohan, and he would say people now construct rainwater harvesting structures in their houses just to get approval from the authorities. “The officials should monitor the construction of these systems and ensure they are built properly. They should also periodically monitor their maintenance,” he said.

Claiming that the country will be left without even a drop of water by 2050 if the present situation continues, former principal scientist and head of the Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute in Ooty P Samraj said the authorities have to devise new plans with an ecological perspective and ensure rainwater does not go down the drain. He said importance should be given to growing indigenous grass, herbs, shrubs and trees as they would save both the soil and water.

Pointing to the rainwater harvesting structure in his house, built on 70 cents of land, the 86-year-old scientist said he collects the rainwater falling on the roof and channels it to a well in the compound for harvesting. The harvested rainwater is sufficient for his use. It also helps increase the groundwater level around his house. “In effect, we don’t have to dig a borewell to get water,” he said, urging people to spare a portion of their land to build a rainwater harvesting structure. 

Meanwhile, T Clarence, a teacher, said though the government is promoting rainwater harvesting structures, it is filling tanks in the area “under the pretext of development”. “Decades ago, Kanniyakumari was home to many tanks and water bodies. But now, bus stations and other structures have replaced them,” he said.

He pointed out that tanks also help conserve water and replenish the groundwater table. Conserving rainwater in tanks will help prevent seawater from intruding into groundwater in coastal areas,” he said.
When contacted, Collector M Arvind told The New Indian Express rainwater harvesting systems are mandatory for getting building permissions. “We are constructing rainwater harvesting structures at houses in rural areas under the MGNREGA scheme,” he added.

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