The Tamil Nadu government has set a three-month deadline for apartment complexes, schools and commercial buildings to set up rainwater harvesting systems. This is a long-awaited and welcome move. Sixteen years after the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa passed a landmark ordinance on rainwater harvesting (RWH), Minister for Municipal Administration S P Velumani has cracked the whip: people who don’t comply will face action.
The 2003 ordinance that followed the dry spell in the state in 2001 had warned the citizens that water supply would be stopped if RWH system was not set up within two months. We are in 2019 and the state’s capital city is still parched. And now, work has been commissioned on a war-footing across the state. Officials have started inspecting buildings. At the same time, tanks are being desilted. The government has also planned to restore more than 70,000 rural water bodies.
With more apartment complexes and industrial zones liberally dotting Chennai’s landscape and ruthlessly sucking groundwater, it has to be within the ambit of corporate social responsibility to consciously implement this system as it would also reduce our excessive dependence on temperamental water tanker associations. Tamil Nadu had scripted a success story by reversing the proverbial “saving for the rainy day” to “saving of the rainy day”.
The pragmatic collection of rain drops helped people in water-starved regions. But the 2003 RWH project somewhere hit a roadblock. The present move to clear that block to let the water flow into the ground is a long-awaited affirmative action. Chennai has in fact been a model city, with new buildings not getting the nod from authorities without RWH structures. Just a few weeks ago, many states across India were staring at drought.
Then came the deluge. This year 13 states have already received much more rainfall than average. This only reinforces the need for sincere efforts to counter the vagaries of climate change. Installing RWH systems is one such effort.