Mumbai: Almost 14 years after making rainwater harvesting systems mandatory for new buildings, only 3,000 buildings in the city have set up the units, states BMC data. Between June 2007 and June 2021, 3,000 plus new buildings got the systems on their premises.
The civic body supplies 3,750 million litres per day (MLD) of water to the city, while Mumbai’s requirement is 4,200 MLD. To reduce the dependence on the reservoirs, in 2002, the BMC had made it mandatory for all new constructions above 1,000 square metres to install rainwater harvesting systems to obtain their occupation certificate (OC). In 2007, this rule was extended to buildings over 300 square metres. But, under the new Development Control and Promotion Regulations (DCPR), 2034, BMC again changed the rule and said new construction or redevelopment on plots having more than 500 square metre area should construct rainwater harvesting units.
Senior civic officials, however, look at the issue differently. “The law is already quite stringent and many buildings are complying, only after a developer submits a report of completed rainwater harvesting units in construction projects, they are issued the full occupation certificate (OC). We will recensus the buildings to check whether they are maintaining the systems. However, to improve water supply, the big game-changer for Mumbai will be treating sewage water, which we are working on a war footing," said a senior BMC official.
Once the units are ready and OC's are issued by the BMC, it is the housing society or developer’s responsibility to ensure that they remain in working condition.
Founder of Mission Green Mumba
Problem of Mumbai is that citizens do not accept new rules. Why must a society wait for BMC or the government to slap a fine or notice to them for following a rule? Why can't we do it on our own? Concretization is the major cause of floods in Mumbai. These tiles don't let the water penetrate the ground, leading to severe floods and waterlogging in the city. We know to use borewell water, however, nobody is bothered to create a percolation pit to recharge these borewells.
Environmentalist and co-founder of River March movement.
I have installed a rainwater harvesting system in my society, however, none of the societies in my neighbourhood has, as there are no checks. It is very easy to make it mandatory for the new societies and buildings to set up rainwater harvesting systems, however, who checks whether these systems are used and maintained later? Once OCs are acquired, nobody is bothered about it. Why doesn't BMC have a mechanism to keep a check on whether these systems are maintained. It is easy, they can just make a checklist while visiting societies for reading water meters. However, this doesn't happen.
Conservationist and former Deputy director of Maharashtra Nature Park
It would be a wrong to say that the BMC's rainwater harvesting initiative flopped or was unsuccessful. BMC has a rainwater harvesting cell. This body keeps a check on whether new buildings coming up in the city are setting up/ constructing rainwater harvesting facilities in their premises as per the rule stipulated by the civic body. What it lacks is the correct manpower or a team of experts to monitor how this is being implemented, executed and monitored. Besides, the way the RWH projects had been executed or implemented were not done scientifically, but just for the sake of showing that it was implemented.
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