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Despite drought, Trichiites failed to harvest recent rain

Image result for rain water harvesting trichy
As the drought wreaked havoc across the state, particularly the delta region, the district managed to net 152 mm rainfall from the southwest monsoon starting June this year. Sadly enough, most of this has gone down the drain and not been harvested.
Experts believe that rain water harvesting (RWH) could do wonders in terms of recharging ground water table if a majority of the households took it up seriously. However, people have been blaming poor rain for the water scarcity even while failing to conserve the little rain that we receive.
Water level has fallen below 150 feet in Srirangam island which has Kollidam flowing on its north and Cauvery to its south. It was not long ago that water could be fetched from a depth of 80 feet at Srirangam. If this was the case on the riversides, the water level in interior places has gone below 200 feet.
"Water level in the city has gone below 200 feet because there is hardly any space for the water to seep into the ground thanks to the concrete layers and plastics buried in the upper layer of the soil," said K C Neelamegam, secretary of Thaneer — a city-based voluntary organisation. Rain water harvesting system was pivotal to maintaining ground water table, he said.

The state government under the AIADMK had in 2010 made it mandatory to have rain water harvesting system in all domestic and commercial establishments. A simple RWH mechanism will have a 3-5 feet-deep pit with a few layers of rock and sand of different sizes to collect water from the roof top. This would ensure that water doesn't flow on the streets or in the drain and evaporates. Instead, it goes underground to the crust to recharge the groundwater table.
The project was taken up seriously in the initial months but abandoned over the years with no interest on the part of the government and lack of a mechanism to monitor the system. Sources from the civic body estimate that over 90 per cent of the 2 lakh odd houses in the city does not have proper rain water harvesting (RWH) system at home. The pipelines are either damaged or the recharge pit blocked because it was abandoned. By not maintaining the RWH system at home, water collecting on the roof-tops goes waste either to the drainage or get evaporated.
Member of water and sanitation committee under the state planning committee, V Ganapathy, says that the then secretary of rural development department, Shantha Sheela Nair, had played a key role in promoting the project. The RWH system could have played a vital role in a city like Trichy which did not have many tanks to ensure ground water recharge. This was particularly so because the rate of ground water withdrawal was more than that of recharge causing an imbalance in the groundwater reserves in Trichy region.
"The rain water harvesting system was considered a mere formality by many and it was not built properly at many places," says Subburaman, Director, SCOPE. Even at places where it was effectively installed with layers of rock and sand, the system was defunct because of lack of maintenance. "In many houses, only recharge pits were dug and connected through pipeline from the roof. Formation of silt over the years and damage to the pipelines have gone unnoticed," he said. It was still mandatory for all buildings to ensure that RWH system was in place to get building plan approval from the civic body. However, there was no mechanism to monitor the system and ensure that it had not gone defunct.


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