Water Harvesting At All Buildings

Goa framed water harvesting policy in 2008 aiming at conservation and efficient utilization of the limited water endowment. As part of the policy all the new building projects with area of 1,500 square metres were required to have water harvesting plants constructed within the project sites. Builders have generally ignored it, despite 50 per cent subsidy ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 2.5 lakh being available. One reason is the laws to make water harvesting compulsory in every residential and commercial building have not been framed by the town and country planning and urban development departments. The indifference of the two departments is strange. They need to be forced to think in terms of future water needs of Goa and amend the laws immediately. The building licensing authorities are taking refuge in the excuse that no amendment to the building laws has been made to make the provision of water harvesting facility mandatory.
The government also needs to take a fresh look at the policy as it is only aimed at promoting roof-top rainwater harvesting. Since there is need to conserve water all other methods for conservation should be made part of the policy and the flaws corrected without delay for effective implementation of the policy. Another reason cited for non-implentation of the policy was lack of expert advice. The government should itself provide guidance or hire the services of experts in the field. While the government departments have shied away from implementing the state’s own policy some residential building complexes such as Milroc at Ribander have not only set up water harvesting facilities but are also surviving without water supply from the public works department for years together. This is an example of where there is a will there is a way. The authorities should not only compliment such enterprising builders but also publicly honour them so as to send a message across to prompt others to be part of conservation of natural resources. The builders and entrepreneurs on the other hand should not wait for the amendments to the rules but take initiatives on their own to set up water conservation facilities at their project sites, without delay.
Surprisingly though some private builders have installed water harvesting projects on their sites nobody has come to avail of the subsidy that the government was ready to give. This could be because there was no awareness of the government policy or the builders and the private companies feel that they could implement the government policy without taking help from the government. While there are water harvesting projects elsewhere in the state, the capital city of the state, which prides itself of being a model city, is bereft of any such project though scores of building projects having been undertaken in the city since the policy was announced. It is rather surprising the Corporation of the City of Panaji has chosen to ignore the government policy on making water harvesting compulsory in every building project. The policy envisages that water harvesting projects could be on the ground or atop the buildings but city buildings have none. Since Panaji aspires to be a Smart City, the CCP should shake off its indifference and ensure that the government policies were implemented in letter and spirit without any further delay by framing norms that were in conformity with government policies. Besides, the government, especially the water resources department, which framed the policy, should create awareness among the people on the need to have water harvesting projects and also how to avail subsidy.
With signs of global warming already visible there is need to not only have water harvesting facilities but also to cut down on water usage. All efforts also should be made to harvest rainwater by constructing water harvesting facilities all over the state. Besides water harvesting, other activities aimed at harvesting surface and groundwater, prevention of losses through evaporation and seepage and all hydrological studies and engineering inventions, so as to promote conservation and efficient utilization of the limited water should also be promoted so as to ensure adequate water supply for the future. There is also a need to ensure that there was enough green cover in every building project that would cut down heat and prevent excess evaporation of water. The focus should not be limited to storage of water for use but to use the facilities to ensure recharging of the ground water. The government needs to address the short comings in the policy immediately and make changes to make sure that all building projects have water harvesting systems.

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