Climate: India (the regions)

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Climate: India (the regions)

The Times of India


Threat of penalty, deadline work wonders in Bangalore


New Delhi: Bangalore’s water comes from the Cauvery river that is about 100km away from the city. About 40% of the demand is met from groundwater resources, so it’s no surprise that the city has started facing the threat of dry wells. Rainwater harvesting was finally made compulsory in the city only in August 2009 but already, several households and commercial buildings have either got rainwater harvesting structures or are in the process of getting them installed.

P B Ramamurthy, chairman of the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB), said that rainwater harvesting became mandatory by an amendment to the BWSSB Act in 2009 and the city was given 9 months with a deadline of May 2010 to ensure that all new buildings on a plot of 30 ft by 40 ft or above and existing buildings on a plot of 60 ft by 40 ft or above installed rainwater harvesting structures.

‘‘New buildings would only be given a water and sewerage connection on verifying that they have carried out rainwater harvesting. Old buildings would also have to prove that they have done the needful or they face water and sewerage disconnection threat. However, there are certain problems with availability of material and manpower and people have asked for an extension of the deadline. We have sent a proposal to the state government for the same and expect an extension of about three months,’’ he said.

Officials say that what worked in Bangalore’s favour, as was the case with Chennai, is that there was a specified deadline and the threat of a penalty if the law was not followed. ‘‘What is the point of having a law if it is not enforced. Contrary to popular belief, rainwater harvesting is really not so expensive and has become the need of the hour. The city is expanding and already we do not have sufficient water to meet the present demand. The demand is 1,150 mld and we are short of 250 mld. We have to spend a lot of money on electricity in pumping water from the Cauvery,’’ said a government official.

Ramamurthy added that the city was now in the middle of preparing a database on the number of rainwater harvesting structures, where they had been installed and their capacity. ‘‘This is only the first year when rainwater harvesting has taken place at such a large scale. While we do not have any figures to state how successful it has been, we are collecting data to analyse how well this will work. Already, about 25,000 apartments and houses have installed rainwater harvesting systems,’’ he said.

City specifics

Annual rainfall in Bangalore 970 mm in 59.8 days

Water demand | 1,150 million litres per day

Supply | 850 mld

Average cost of rainwater harvesting structures: Rs 5,000-30,000


Other cities make most of rainwater

No subsidy, but over 99% of the TN capital complies with the rules


New Delhi: Like other metros in India, rapidly-urbanizing Chennai too faces the risk of its groundwater levels plunging to new depths. But this southern city has resolved to replenish its groundwater and secure its future.

Over 99% of the city complies with rainwater harvesting rules, even though the government has refused to provide any subsidy. Though it was made mandatory for all buildings in 2002, rainwater harvesting had started getting recognition as early as 1995. ‘‘Had it not been for the government making it mandatory, Chennai too would have failed to reap the benefits of rainwater harvesting,’’ says Sekar Raghavan, a researcher working on rainwater harvesting in Chennai, pointing out that Chennai faces almost the same problems as does Delhi — dipping levels of groundwater due to overdrawal, largescale concretisation and increasing salinity.

A law was passed making rainwater harvesting compulsory in all buildings — public, private, old and new in 2002 with a deadline of October 2003. The then chief minister Jayalalithaa held a review in July 2003 and found that the government had been sleeping over the issue and nothing had been done. She was so peeved that she ordered the deadline be advanced to August 2003.

‘‘She gave the city only a month but unbelievably, most people complied. There were several hiccups on the way and a relaxation of deadline had to be given to some but nobody was let off. While this diktat ensured all buildings installed rainwater harvesting, it also meant that a lot of the work had been done without proper planning and it is only now that we are realising that about 50% of the structures are ineffective. However, this can be rectified more easily than not having structures at all,’’ said Raghavan.

The heavy penalty clause also set the ball rolling in Chennai. The government ordered disconnection of water supply to those buildings where rainwater harvesting was not carried out. Where residents or owners offered too much resistance, power supply was also cut. ‘‘We realised that giving both the government and people unlimited time was not giving any results. People chose to sit over the law if they did not stand to get penalised. Once a deadline was set and a punishment declared, everyone fell into line. That some people were actually handed out punishment also helped matters,’’ said a government official.

Raghavan, who is also the director of Rain Centre in Chennai, said that results of largescale water harvesting had become evident by January 2006. In a survey carried out then, it was found that wells that had been dry for over 30 years had started getting water. ‘‘The monsoons of 2003 and 2004 were not very good, so a significant change in groundwater levels was not noticed. However, after the 2005 monsoon, we saw an immediate relief. Water level went up by as much as 6m to 8m in several areas,’’ he said.

A Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board official said that the city had started relying less on supply and more on the groundwater store. ‘‘We have actually managed to reduce supply to many areas. In 2008, the average consumption was 106.41 litres per capita per day (lpcd). This came down to 100.24 lpcd in 2009. December 2009 was even better with a fall in per capita consumption to 89.61 litres per day. The supply to the city has been reduced from 650 million litres per day (mld) to 570 mld,’’ he said.

While Delhiites complain that the cost of rainwater harvesting is prohibitive, Chennai residents managed the same feat and say that the benefits that one derives from the exercise are nothing compared to the cost. ‘‘For a really good job, it takes about Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000. Multi-storey buildings can spend this much easily if the amount is divided among all the residents. Secondly, one needs to know what soil type they are dealing with and what kind of structures are required in their premises. Not everyone needs borewells or elaborate structures. The Rain Centre had also complied a list of 30 plumbers and masons who were charging a uniform rate. Only the economically weaker sections were exempt from the law,’’ said Raghavan.

How they did it

Rainwater harvesting made compulsory in 2002-2003

Recharge capacity for Chennai city: 70%

Average rise in groundwater levels in 2006: 6-8 m 2000 1,072 2001 1,667 2002 1,402 2003 738 2004 1,197 2005 2,566 2006 1,323 2007 1,310 2008 1,597 2009 1,181


See Climate: India (the seasons)


Kolkata residents adopted pond, it now supplies water to 700 people


New Delhi: Delhi has over 600 water bodies, a natural rainwater harvesting system that can save for the city millions of litres of water each year. However, many of these water bodies are either encroached upon or are being developed by the owning agencies as concrete courts with no space for any water to seep through. In Kolkata, however, residents took up the task of cleaning and maintaining a water body in the southern part of the city that is now providing water supply to over 700 people living nearby.

The Kajipukur water body in south Kolkata was till recently contaminated with arsenic. A part of it had been filled up for the purpose of construction and the rest of it was dotted with the filth of the neighbouring areas. Initially, residents of Baghajatin, where the water body is located, tried very hard to stop people from littering the pond. They physically tried to clean the water but failed since

they could not garner public support for their cause. Eventually, the Baghajatin Refugee Association lodged a case in the Calcutta high court. In 2002, a court order armed the association to develop the water body and close to 600 members of Baghajatin blocks A and B, Chittaranjan and a small part of Baghajatin Bazar formed an association named Kajupukur Unnyan Samity (KUS) for the protection and preservation of the water body.

Working tirelessly for several months, the residents managed to convert the filthy banks of the pond into a lush garden. They planted 153 trees around the green area and created three bathing ghats and washing enclosures that were connected to the local drainage system.

Importantly, the height of the pond’s banks were also increased to catch more rain water. Now, say residents, not only is the area more pleasing to the eyes but has also naturally solved the water problems of the those staying around Kajupukur.

Lakshadweep and Kerala feel the heat

Viju B | TNN 2010

Mumbai: Are Kerala and neighbouring Lakshadweep islands becoming the first victims of global warming and climate change? In the last one week, temperatures across all districts in Kerala have risen to an unprecedented high. Due to the heat, 10 people from the northern districts of Palakkad, Kannur and Thrissur suffered severe burn injuries and were hospitalised for emergency first aid care.

K V Premadas working at a dam site at Kanjirapuzha in Palakkad district had skin from his hands and legs peeling off due to sun burns. Mohammed, a paddy field farmer from Thrissur, fell unconscious in the heat. He had burns all over his body. Another eight students from a school in Irikkur in Kannur suffered heat stroke and burn injures.

This is not the usual heat wave. ‘‘Temperatures are definitely on the rise compared to last 50 years,’’ K Santhosh director of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) Trivandrum, told TOI on Sunday.

IMD data show that there has been a rise of over one degree in February and March this year compared to the last 50 years. Environmentalists said that the state governments do not take punitive action against large scale destruction of mangroves, deforestation and mining of rivers.


At 32.4°C, Shimla beats 170-yr record

Ravinder Makhaik | TNN 2010

Shimla: Thinking of a break in the salubrious climes of Shimla? Think again. The ‘Queen of Hills’, summer capital of the British raj, is in the middle of a freakish summer, with Thursday’s temperature of 32.4 degrees touching a 170-year high. With this, the temperature in Shimla broke the previous highest of 31.7 degrees recorded on May 20, 2004.

A tourist from Chandigarh, Harpreet Singh, cut short his stay; he’s moving further up towards Sangla valley in Kinnaur to chill out a bit. And Harpreet may not be the only one, going by the data given out by the Shimla Weather Observatory, established in 1840 at the Viceregal Lodge, which now houses the Indian Institute of Advance Studies.

‘‘Significantly, it’s only in temperature recordings of the last 20 years that new highs are emerging,’’ said Shimla meteorological station director Manmohan Singh. Wednesday’s maximum was 30.9 degree Celsius.

Although Friday was slightly cooler, with an overnight drizzle bringing down the temperature to 28.1 degrees, the scorching sun has forced residents and tourists to stay indoors. Shops that are open for long hours in summers are taking longer lunch break

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