Eight years after rainwater harvesting was made mandatory in Bengaluru, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board has implemented it in just 72,000 households. This is far less than the number of possible sites as the BWSSB has installed 9.4 lakh water connections in the city.
The law on rainwater harvesting applied to all new structures (after 2009) coming up on areas measuring 1,200 sq ft and above and all structures existing on sites with an area of 2,400 sq ft and greater.
BWSSB engineer Manjunath said that so far 15,000 households have been penalised for not installing RWH systems. “For these 15,000 residences, the water charges are being calculated as per commercial rates,” he said. When asked why this number was so small, he said that a survey in 2011 had shown that existing properties built before 2009 which were greater than 40×60 numbered 55,000. The survey covered core city areas and a part of outer zones of the city.
However, Principal Investigator of Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology A.R. Shivakumar, who made initial recommendations to amend the Bill in 2009, maintained that far more could be done. “There are 20 lakh properties as per the BBMP tax records, out of which less than a lakh have RWH,” he said.
According to Mr. Shivakumar, having faced water shortage, residents living in peripheral areas had been proactive in setting up recharge wells. “They come to our office, collect information and get it done. It is the core areas that residents have been reluctant to change. All you need is 3 ft diameter space to create a recharge well,” he added.
Another issue is that in many residences constructed after 2009, people built makeshift structures to get water connections approved. “Some people just connect a pipe to a small pit and flow roof water into it, this is hardly effective,” Mr. Shivakumar said.
Two help desks, one at the Karnataka State Council for Science and Technology, IISc., Bengaluru, and another at the Visvesvaraya Rain Water Harvesting Theme Park in Jayanagar, provide residents with guidance on how to set up RWH system.
(Originally published here.)