With a water crisis looming large over India’s major cities, the government has decided to rope in urban local bodies (ULBs) to ensure the efficient usage of water, recharging of groundwater and monitoring of water body pollution.
According to officials, the Prime Minister’s Office has asked the newly formed Ministry of Jal Shakti to work in collaboration with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) to ensure water security, in line with the target set by the Centre to provide tap water to all households within the next five years.
“The ministry has been asked to rope in ULBs to promote efficient water usage. This will involve ensuring rainwater harvesting in residential areas, reviving ponds, lakes and other water bodies, and monitor water pollution. Further, it will also keep a check on where the waste is being disposed in water bodies,” a senior official from MOHUA told this publication.
The ministry has also asked all ULBs to set up a cell for effective monitoring of rainwater harvesting and revival of at least one water body in their respective areas.
To implement this, the MoHUA has already issued ‘Guidelines for Urban Water Conservation’, saying that the ‘Rainwater Harvesting Cell’ of all municipal corporations will monitor groundwater extraction and aquifer recharge in urban areas.
According to these guidelines, ULBs will make sure all buildings that were granted permissions must incorporate RWH (rainwater harvesting) structures as per building bye-laws.
The same should be checked before issuing them Occupancy-cum-Completion Certificates.
“ULBs should constitute a Rainwater Harvesting Cell which will be responsible for the effective monitoring of rainwater harvesting in the city,” as per the guidelines that were issued as a part of the first phase of ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ started on July 1 and will continue till September 15 this year.
The second phase will start from October 1 and end on November 30, 2019.
Meanwhile, PM Narendra Modi has also pitched for rainwater conservation in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’, noting that there was a pressing need to make this a mass movement along the lines of the cleanliness drive.
The new water conservation guidelines also point out that the concretisation of urban public spaces like footpaths and walkways in parks, has had an adverse effect on natural water percolation.
“Concretisation increases surface run-off and restricts natural percolation of water contributing to urban flooding. ULBs should undertake de-concretizing of pavements,” it said.
The Jal Shakti ministry has identified at least 255 districts and 1,597 blocks across the country as water stressed, as have 756 ULBs.