MADURAI: One year after Madurai was identified as water stressed area by the Union Ministry of Jal Shakti, 83 per cent of the buildings in the city had been installed with rainwater harvesting (RWH) structures, revealed the data given by Madurai Municipal Corporation. Earlier, the city had only 47 per cent of the buildings with functional RWH structures.
As part of Jal Shakti Abhiyan, a campaign for water conservation and water security that was launched on July 1, 2019, Ministry of Jal Shakti identified 1,592 blocks from 256 districts across the country as water stressed areas. This included A.Vellalapatti and Palamedu town panchayats, Usilampatti and Thirumangalam municipalities in Madurai district and the 100 wards under Madurai Municipal Corporation.
The campaign ran through two phases, from July 1 to September 15, 2019 and from October 1, to 30 November, 2019. The major components of the campaign included RWH, re-use of treated wastewater, rejuvenation of water bodies and plantation.
The baseline survey taken by the civic body as part of Phase - 1 back in 2019 revealed that of the 3,22,759 surveyed establishments, which included government buildings, commercial and residential establishments, industrial buildings, hospitals and educational institutions, only 1,51,869 had functional RWH structures. However, a year after that, with the intervention of the civic body, a sum of 2,64,133 establishments of the 3,19,769 had been installed with RWH structures.
Soon after the horrifying incident of the two-year-old Sujith Wilson who fell into an abandoned borewell in Tiruchy, the civic body has also identified 412 defunct borewells and 153 defunct open wells and converted into RWH structures. A total of 153 water logging points have also been identified and equipped to harvest the rainwater.
Re-use of treated wastewater
There are two sewage treatment plants (STP) in the city - one at Vellakal with 125 MLD capacity and the other at Sakkimangalam with 45 MLD capacity. Construction works for 2 MLD STP at Panthalkudi is also underway.
The survey found that none of the establishments had dual piping system for reuse of treated wastewater from STPs. However, 22,140 KLD of treated wastewater has been used for agricultural purposes in the district.
"Both the functioning STPs are under utilised now and are far away from the main city. Once the Panthalkudi STP sets into function, the treated water would be used for gardening purposes in the city," said the Corporation Commissioner S Visakan.
Rejuvenation of waterbodies
There are 33 ooranis in city limits. The Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a city-based firm, Hi Tech Arai, last year to revamp 10 ooranis at a cost of ? 1.10 crore using the corporate social responsibility fund of the organisation. Dhan Foundation, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), provides the technical assistance in renovation of these waterbodies. The 10 waterbodies includes Silayaneri oorani, Milagaranai oorani, Kottangulam oorani, Paaloorani, Kamban oorani, Uthangudi oorani, Kalludaiyaan oorani, Semboorani, Muthupatti Kalthaar oorani and Sooravalimedu oorani.
Further, Managiri oorani and Thirupalai oorani are being revamped by the NGO Thanneer Thanneer. While the Madurai Builders Association have been carrying out the rejuvenation works at Ulaganeri Kuttam oorani, Milan Marbles have undertaken works at Mattuthavani Saathaiyaru oorani. The rest of the waterbodies are being revamped by the civic body.
"Desilting, bund strengthening, clearing garbage from feeder channels and sapling planting along the bunds were all undertaken as part of the renovation. Parks and walkways have also been established along the bund of a few ooranis. Nearly 15 waterbodies have been rejuvenated and is set for harvesting northeast rains. The rejuvenation works for around eight waterbodies are underway," said the Corporation Chief.
The survey also identified that 9,45,755 meter square of green cover were planted with 38,024 saplings in different locations including public space, roadsides, around water bodies, government buildings, group housing societies, commercial and educational establishments and hospitals.
Meanwhile, the civic body has also planted more than 3,000 plants in 25 places across the city using Miyawaki method, a technique pioneered nese botanist Akira Miyawaki, that helps in building dense, native forests. It involves planting dozens of native species in the same area that becomes maintenance-free after the first three years. "As this is an ideal time for plantation, we are also planning to plant the saplings along the banks of Vaigai river at intermittent distance. Further, the Miyawaki gardening would also be intensified," said Visakan.