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Rainwater harvesting ignored


The onset of the summer season, predictably, has been marked with newspaper reports of deficient drinking water supply in some parts of the city. It would be, however, erroneous to project that the situation would improve with the onset of the monsoon. “Remaining thirsty in rain–soaked Doon” is a common adage applied to residents of the city. The situation has assumed monstrous proportions to the extent that after every heavy spell of rainfall during the monsoons, there are reports in the media of areas within the city limits going without water supply. While it is quite natural for the residents to fume and fret over the anomaly, what is astonishing is that there is little or no discussion on the standards prescribed in building bylaws on construction of rainwater harvesting tanks. As per these bylaws, construction of a rainwater harvesting tank is compulsory for all land plots of size 125 sq meters and above. A tank of two thousand litres capacity is compulsory for all plots of area 125 to 250 square meters, while a three thousand litre tank is compulsory for plots with area between 250 to 400 square meters.
In order to show their willingness to comply with the necessary stipulation, a large number of residents submit their claims at the time of getting sanction for the layout plan. However, these standards on rain water harvesting are confined only to the map. The standards are given short shrift as soon as sanction is given to the layout by the authorities. There is little or no compliance of the provisions. While the group housing societies are also openly violating the provisions with impunity, the situation in high rises and commercial complexes is even worse.
Rainwater harvesting is a highly effective practice, both, in residential buildings and commercial complexes. The rain water harvesting tank can be suitably put to use in case if there are many families residing in an apartment. This tank can help serve a variety of purposes even if there is no tubewell installed at the site. However, the efforts of the Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA) to educate the people on the scope, utility and benefits of rain water harvesting tanks have proved to be futile. The construction companies are no less in violation of the provisions. The situation is such that the group housing societies take note of every detail regarding the various rules and regulations on rain water harvesting while getting clearance for their layout map. But these rules and regulations are thrown to the wind as soon as sanction is accorded to the plan.
The functioning of the MDDA as the enforcement agency for ensuring compliance of the relevant provisions has left much to be desired. The development authority appears in no mood to initiate action against those found acting in contravention of the laid down standards. If these stipulations are not being enforced by the agencies concerned, there is certainly some bungling going on at some level. In order to ensure ‘water security’ for Doon’s residents, MDDA must ensure that that there is proper and effective compliance of rules and regulations governing rainwater harvesting.