Monday, May 24, 2010

May & the Monsson!

A Month before the Monsoon.....

Here I remember a tell of Akbar & Birbal.....

One day Akbar asked in the Darbar, that how many blind men are there in Delhi? Every one got surprised & tried guessing with different numbers but not Birbal. He said Badshah, I will tell u tomorrow evening, exact figure.

Next day morning Birbal sat in midway of busiest road of Chnadani Chowk & started repairing a Khat ( cot with ropes) with note pad along.

Soon the news filtered till the Darbar & even the Akbar got curious & went to see what’s up! When he saw Birbal repairing the Khat in mid road, he asked " Birbal what are u doing"? Immediately Birbal entered his name in list in the note book. Akbar asked '" What’s that u entered my name in?" The sheepishly Birbal replied, respected sir, u have asked me to tell u the numbers of blind men, here is the figure till now & sorry to say even your name is in the list, as just one man asked since morning that " Birbal, why are u repairing the Khat in mid way?" rest al asked Birbal what are u doing? So u know...... Akbar realized what Birbal wanted to say, that even with having eyes how many people see what the see!

The greatness of such stories is they prevailed in today’s times too! Look at the each year burning issue of water which comes along with summer & brings along talks about Rain Water Harvesting / RWH!

We live in a metropolitan city like Pune & we are proud of our life style. By official claims, we get water of more than 210 lit/head /day which is way beyond imagination even for many other metros also, leave apart the rural india! For many of us May is the month with Vacation time of Schools & Colleges. For some, it’s the time of watching New Releases in the Multiplexes with cooling down amongst the friends in the evenings at popular hang outs. For many others it’s outing time or just leisure afternoons reading books or watching DVD's at home.

Each time when Summer starts heating up & front page of news papers get packed with snaps of tankers & queues for water & dry wells!

Not all around us are so fortunate... In States like Rajasthan, Gujrath people are busy with preparations for water collections as Monsoon is the sole source of supply for the remaining 9-10 months after that. In some part of Rajasthan it rains hardly 3"-4" ,which is one tenth of what we got in Pune.Also the land over there is arid & it don’t hold water so what ever falls on the open land is gone for ever. There, people starts cleaning all the collection tanks, roof terreces,village roads, open spaces in front of the houses & making them water tight. So whatever rain falls over, it gets collected without minimum wastage.

Not far from our beloved city, if you take a drive in rural areas of Maharashtra & you see Faces dried up with no water, Faces busy in making their fields in extreme heat for next crop, Faces tense with the thoughts of arranging the funds for buying seeds for the new crop, Faces with doubts in mind about the timing & volume of rains!

On other hand, at some places like Orissa & W.Bengale's Deltas (Delta is a part of land formed like small islands where river merges with the sea) people are in mode of migrations as the rivers bring along huge volume of water & mud ,rising the water levels by many feet & submerging large chunks of the lands.

Monsoon is same but the preparations to face it are different everywhere.
Its all about Monsoon, every other person than us is thinking of in the month of May.

In our city all we care or get known to its arrival is by news papers that Municipal Corporation has undertaken pre Monsoon road repairs & rain Water Gutter cleaning! We take it as a usual joke & divert our concentration to our TV sets or go along planning our evening parties, without even thinking for the many Faces who are desperately awaiting the Monsoon with a smile in one eye & a tear in other!

Friends, just do give a thought while wasting a glass of water this May that some where some one is going to remain thirsty or going to get flooded in coming Monsoon & decide that you will try to share your fortune with them in some way or other. Well, that will be the least but best preparation you can do for this Monsoon as an aware Human Being.

For builders it’s a war time so as to finish all the outdoor works which the rain may hamper or delay i.e. Plaster Ext & painting. Excavation becomes risky as of wet subsoil. Especially the gaothan area buildings as the adjoining properties get dangerous to slide down.

The labor hutments need to be taken care. Other worry is most of the labors are having their farms at native places so they went back to take care of fields & labors are in shortage.

We are fortunate enough to have rainfall of average nearly 30”-32” per year & which is very good in compare to many places.

But where’s the rain water going…?

Each time we miss the most important part “What we are going to do with the Rain?”

Unfortunately the answer is nothing. Crores of litters of water flooded the cities, towns, villages, and farms & gets spilled away. Though there have been efforts at various levels for Rain Water Harvesting, such as making of “Gaotali” i.e. formation of small ponds within the fields, some buildings have been furnished with the roof water collecting systems but over larger scale the efforts are very less.

Here I think we are playing the role of all the people who kept asking Birbal, what are you doing? It’s like we are blind about the Rain Water Harvesting with having eyes! And for that we have to understand first what’s the rain water harvesting actually means?

It’s a process in which the water generated due to rainfall is used to its optimum which otherwise would have been wasted due to the surface losses or evaporation or getting percolated deep down the earths crust.

Few years back when PMC published the Rain Water Harvesting policy, interestingly to my knowledge only one suggestion objection has come & that’s by PBAP’s Environment Cell J

I am sure in the current scenario everybody knows about the importance of

Rain Water Harvesting (RWH), the question what’s the effective way to achieve

the target.

RWH doesn't necessarily mean to store the rain water but it means proper

utilization of the rain water in any form i.e. to minimize the wastage in

the form of surface evaporation or uncontrolled percolation in a stratum

from where its recovery is impossible.

On primary basis we can categorize the same in five types:

1. Surface to Surface collection & use, such as small lakes, bunds etc. This is possible at large scale & most govt's Irrigation dept/Water works etc are doing it. At village /town level local gram panchayat/municipality keeps on doing it via Rojgar Hami Yojana". The concpet is try to stop runoff & store it above the surface.Runoff is the rain water which flows actually over the earths surface & gets collected. Gaotali is a fine example of the same. In USA i have seen many large urban developments having their own lake,especially in Florida state which does get ample rains. I was wondering how lucky these developments are to have lake in each area! But then I came to know that ,its the norm of local body to have the space like we have open space to collect the rain water & its mandetory.

Many will, say, USA is a big country & they dont have land problem for such land use. Here I always think, why our local bodies cant work out this way, we too have concept of open space of 10% for lay outs bigger than 1 acre,now when we do have adequate rain fall ,why 50% of this 10%open space cnat be made mandetory for water storage above surface, or relax the height & coverage norms & make space for water storage. This is what we need to work out to deal with environment conservation,not emaining idle on the rules what we have but flexible & imliment them fast..

2. Surface to UGWT collection tank & use. This is what we all mostly meant when it’s RWH, but how many times & places its possible is the question. As we receive all our rain fall in span of 3 month & that too in some weeks of these months. Issue is how much we can store & how we are going to use it & for what? As this will need purification & which is a costly affair & during these monsoon times any ways plants don’t need extra water so we cant use it for the same ,then what we do with this water? Also we are getting the PMC water which is nonmetered & included in property tax, so how we are going to make people aware to use Rain Water instead PMC water?

3. Surface to subsurface strata charging & use by lift irrigation such as

open or bore wells. This is what best we can do in cities like Pune where rain isn’t a problem. As subsurface strata acts as a water reservoir & which we can use in summers too for non domestic uses such as gardening, flushing in toilets etc. For this we ned to have provision in storage water tanks for seperete compartments of storing bore water & drinking water. Where the developer hasnt made such arrangement there the society can have seperete tank at terrece level & lift the bore well water directly to the same & use it for non domastic purpose. Unfortunetly we all are ready to spent a lot on our home interiors but not for such colective cause.

4. Surface to near by Perennial Source, such as Stream, River etc. In many places especially where we need to see that the rain fall reaches to the towns/villages at downstream, this particular system can be used. As rain water harvesting isnt utilizing the water at the source only, anybody who can utilize it should be able to use it is important.

5. Collection at central place via underground channels (rain water

Gutters) filter & distribute it. Such systems have been used by the public bodies at city level e.g. Singapore. This is one thing which we can consider at city level as it will reduce the cost of treating the collected rain water & PMC can recirculate it via its water line network.

What is need of the time is identify the system of RWH & see that it gets executed. The traget is tough as ultimetly success of any RWH system is how much treated poatable water is saved & for that metered water supply is a must.

India is a tropical country where three different seasons i.e. Summer, Winter

& Rains. We get rain water in 4 months time span & that too few weeks out of

four month produce the maximum rain fall. Also we got a varied geography to

dealt with like high altitude differences of Himalayas to arid dry lands

of Rajasthan to Maharashtra Deccan platu.Then again rural areas & cities

like Mumbai & Pune, in such situations a single policy can’t be worked out

for every project. Studying all above aspects the city wise & then at

Micro level project wise policies have to be decided.

Reusing of the rainwater is also a very good thought, but for residential projects & for domestic use it’s some what impractical because considering the intensity of

rainfall in a short period of span, we will need huge storage tanks and

filtration arrangements, which will be idle during all other seasons.

Instead we can use the rainwater collected from terraces & on hard paving for harvesting

purposes & also can route the same for nature parks or landscaped areas around, that’s using it for the gardening.

Filtration and reusing of rainwater is usually adopted in the areas where
there is very minimum rainfall and the water is scarce commodity for any
use and most importantly geological conditions are such that it’s impossible
to raise the ground water level by harvesting for e.g. : Arid/ Desert lands of Rajasthan.

Also its found workable in the rural areas where the built up portion is less & the rain water can be used for even farming or other agro based business like drinking of cattles,poltries i.e. mainly in non treated form.

Once we decide to go for it then the techniques can be worked out as per the case wise. Important is open up our eyes & look at the problem with them !


Sanjay Deshpande

Sanjeevani Dev, Chairman Envo Power Committee,PBAP.

Please do visit my blog to know about our philosophy at Sanjeevani!

Think Green, Think Life


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