Lakshmi Narayanan, Shweta and Uma Maheshwari

Three final year civil engineering students Ð Lakshmi Narayanan, Shweta and Uma Maheshwari from Anna University, Chennai are successfully harvesting rain since August 8, 2001. Their initiatives have also inspired ten other students to join the group of most wanted.

It all started when R Jeyakumar, a builder and rainwater harvesting consultant approached Lakshmi, who has already worked with him as an intern with a project proposal. These three students decided to utilise this invaluable opportunity. In three months, despite of strict academic schedule they completed 15 projects. Metro water and the rainwater harvesting cell of Tamil Nadu Water Supply and Drainage Board are encouraging them by giving them the projects.

They use simple methods to catch rain, while also trying to fully utilise the existing facilities. As Lakshmi explains, first we look for existing facilities like pipes, wells, sumps and tanks. Then we draw up the plan with Jeyakumar's guidance. Following this principle, a 15 years old septic tank was converted into a rainwater storage tank in Thomas Nagar. Three pipes from the terrace are connected to a filter tank filled with pebbles, sand, charcoal and layered with netlon mats and a bucket thus, cutting the cost. They do significantly realise that there is no one model for all the projects. They can bet on every project and we can bet that Chennai is going to have watery days ahead.

For details:

Anna University, Chennai
Mobile: 9840142482

Back to Top
K R Gopinath
This is a story about a man who deals with iron and steel in his factory at Chennai, Tamil Nadu and now his name has became synonymous with rainwater harvesting as well.

K R Gopinath launched rainwater harvesting as a community service project in 1993, as President of the Rotary Club, Anna Nagar, Chennai. He started as an ordinary builder. "Water level in my well has increased from 28 feet in 1983 to two feet in the peak of summer harvesting in my house." This project began in a humble manner, but has gone a long way. At present, more than 2,500 houses in Chennai, some industrial companies like Mahindra and Mahindra, Indian Oil Corporation, and also the area office of Chennai Metro Water Supply and Sewage Board use these systems. The techniques include harvesting rainwater on rooftops and catching the runoff in the paved areas, and channelling it to recharged borewell.

He has also set up a company by the name KRG Rainwater Harvesting Company, to promote rainwater harvesting in urban areas and farms. It has a technical tie up with TAHAL Consulting Engineering Company, Israel, which is one of the leading water conservation companies of the world. On November 19, 2001 his contributions were honoured with the Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini award, 2001 by B N Singh, ex-governor of Tamil Nadu in a function organised on the occasion of 84th birth anniversary of late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi at New Delhi.

For details:
K R Gopinath
Rainwater Harvesting
160, Second Avenue,Anna Nagar

Back to Top
Mangalam Balasubramaniam
An advisor to Danida, Mangalam Balasubramaniam is actively involved in mobilizing communities to take up rainwater harvesting concept. One of her major achievement includes activating about 1,000 residents of Pammal, Chennai to not only implement rainwater harvesting in their houses but to restore the temple tank as well. "Once we started the desilting and cleaning up of the tank, even people, who had previously ignored the renovation came forward to offer their services - in the form of technical advice, monetary help or voluntary labour", reminisced Balasubramaniam.

To achieve the goal, a fund - raising campaign was launched. Pammel women went from door to door seeking contributions. "We accepted whatever sum was given. One person contributed a rupee, which we accepted gratefully," shared Mahalakshmi Janarthanan, a resident. To attract the attention of the people, the fund raisers used a catchy line, 'Oru addiku munnuru rooba' - which means, for one foot (of the temple tank wall), Rs 300 were required. However, adi in Tamil language also means a beating, thus, making many residents laugh at the pun and contribute the requisite amount.

Sri Sankara Vidyalaya, the Exnora Innovators club, the Rotary club, Pammal tanneries association and a few individuals were the major contributors. About Rs 13 lakhs were raised through this campaign. The ease with which the community mobilised itself to collect funds, was the direct result of the change in the mindsets of the people, who had experienced the positive impact of implementing rainwater harvesting in their houses. Initially they used to say, 'Namakken vambu?' which means why bother? But when they realised that the quality of water in the wells of the houses has improved and, the money they spent on buying the resource during summers has declined - their attitudes changed. Balasubramanian rightly explains, "For any community effort to be successful, the change must be visual."

More than half of the fund was utilised to strengthen the banks of the tank, by constructing a wall around it. This measure was taken up to protect the tank from degeneration in the future. In September 2001, the works began and within three months the project was successfully completed, despite heavy rains. Seeing the people's enthusiasm, the administration of Kanchipuram district also joined in, by extending its support to the project. The results of the work have surprised the residents as well. Both the quality and quantity of water in the region have improved, due to the restoration of the tank.

For details:

No 5A, Plot No 105,
7th Street, Sri Sankara Nagar,
Pammal, Chennai 600 075
Tel: 2484283 / 2484841

Back to Top
R Ramani
Ramani likes to be known as the 'crusader for rainwater harvesting'. Just a couple of minutes of interaction will leave no doubt that he is truly worthy of this sobriquet.

To avoid buying water in the wake of 1988s severe water scarcity that had gripped Chennai, he decided to undertake rooftop rainwater harvesting. The initial results were not good. A considerable presence of salinity and iron in the water made it unpotable. However, he never gave up. Through trial and error and, by using proper filtration methods, his water-related problems were solved.

Ramani has set up the Akash Ganga project and introduced different types of water conservation techniques in residence. As a result, not a single drop of water goes waste in his house, which has been developed as a model. It is also open for the people to come and visit.

After retiring from ONGC, Ramani started a trust called 'Ramadies' in 2000 - offering consultative services to interested individuals and institutions. He has completed 130 projects and the number is steadily swelling.

For details:

Ramadies Charitable Trust
5 (1050), 41st Street,
TNHB Colony, Korattur,
Chennai 600 080

Back to Top

Shanta Sheela Nair
You might as well call her Chennai's water woman. Shanta Sheela Nair, secretary, Municipal Administration and Water Supply (MAWS), is the driving force behind the successful implementation of rainwater harvesting schemes in the bustling metro.

She has also been instrumental in passing the Chennai Groundwater Regulation Act. It was a difficult battle, but the tough-talking bureaucrat eventually won. "It took strict enforcement of the anti-water mining legislation coupled with active support from local communities to stop the mining," reveals the rainwater harvesting activist.

A woman with a mission, Nair has even included rainwater harvesting as a part of the flood mitigation and storm drain construction schemes. It was due to her efforts that rainwater harvesting was made mandatory for new buildings in 1994, and for all buildings in 2002.

To step up the campaign, information centres were put up at all district headquarters. Nair, who has earlier worked with different government departments in Tamil Nadu, has taken her mission beyond Chennai to the rural areas as well.

For details:

Municipal Administration and Water Supply
Cheenai 600 009
Tel: 044-25360491

Back to Top

Shekhar Raghavan
Shekhar Raghavan has extensively campaigned for rooftop water harvesting by going door-to-door in Besant Nagar, Chennai. This area is close to the sea, hence, groundwater is plentiful. For the same reason there has been unchecked overexploitation of groundwater. It is bound to lead to ingress, rendering the groundwater source non-potable. Raghavan could foresee the danger and undertook the campaign to avert the same.

He has also persuaded the government agencies like Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board to encourage rainwater harvesting. Over the years, his network has expanded as he extends technical assistance to the interested individuals, communities and institutions. One of his well known accomplishments is of facilitating the setting up of rainwater harvesting system in Padmanabha Nagar in Adyar, a residential colony with active people's participation. It has resolved their persistent drinking water problem.

For details:

Sitalakshmi Raghavan Memorial Social and Charitable Trust
D 15, Bayview Apartments,
Kalakshetra Colony, Besant Nagar,
Chennai 600 090
Tel: 044 - 24918415

Back to Top
Venkatraman, president of PN welfare association, decided to adopt the technique of rainwater harvesting in his colony. Shekhar Raghavan, a Chennai-based rainwater harvesting facilitator, assisted him. Venkatraman decided to begin with his house.

It all started in 2001, when Chennai was going through a period of severe water scarcity. This colony of 65 individual houses, covering an area of around three acres was also facing a problem due to seawater intrusion. The state water supply was not only irregular but limited in quantity as well, thus compelling people to buy water. The middle class resident's of PN were spending about Rs 2,000 - Rs 3,000 per month on water.

Venkatraman decided to begin with his house. To demonstrate the benefits of this technique to other residents he designed a diversion pipe (a four inch PVC pipe bend with a reducer of four inch to one inch that can be fitted with any rooftop water down take pipe of four inch diameter) through which water can be diverted to any part of the house. Initially, to popularise rainwater harvesting among the residents, he also announced a subsidy of Rs 250 for feasibility study.

In 2001, when one night of rain filled the sumps of 4,000-litre capacity with water, people started realising the potential of rainwater harvesting. Today, 54 houses in PN are catching rain. The designs used are simple. Venkataraman explains, "Rooftop rainwater is diverted to sumps for direct usage". To reduce the cost, pipes near the sump and dug wells are used. Rainwater harvesting is also strengthening inter community bonds in PN. As Venkatarman narrates, "When Seshadri, a PN resident decided to go for water harvesting, he realised that his neighbour - Krishnaswamy and Afzal's pipes runs near his dug well. Thus, it would be in everyone's interest to take collective action. Both of them not only agreed but also gave their financial contribution for the project." It clearly shows that water knows no boundaries of caste or religion - it stays with people, who respects and conserves it.

Back to Top
Indukanth Ragade
Indukanth Ragade, who is an organic chemist, has taken a lead in executing rainwater harvesting and wastewater management projects in Chennai. As the vice chairperson of Alacrity Foundations Private Limited, he started introducing rainwater harvesting in all its projects from 1993 itself. So far the company has introduced rainwater harvesting in over 150 projects comprising over 4500 flats. By optimally combining the technique of rainwater harvesting (RWH) with wastewater treatment and reuse, Alacrity Foundation, Chennai-based flat promoters, has found an answer to the problem of water scarcity. The proper application of this technique can reduce dependence on external sources.

According to Alacrity's calculations, RWH alone has the potential of meeting about 30 - 40 per cent of the flat complex's annual water needs. This can be further increased to 60 per cent by reusing wastewater after in situ treatment. The wastewater is of three kinds:

  • About 30 - 40 per cent of wastewater is from closets for flushing, and cannot be reused;
  • About ten per cent of wastewater comes from kitchen. It is not reused, as the level of nutrients is high;
  • Only the water used for bathing and washing clothes can be treated and reused for toilet flushing or groundwater recharge. It constitutes 50 - 60 per cent of the total consumption. For recharging the groundwater, the wastewater is diverted towards a specially prepared soil bed, in which semi aquatic plants are grown. If the water is to be recycled, than the bottom of the bed is made permeable to prevent percolation.

From each complex a network of three different pipes separate wastewater, at initial stage itself. Such projects require moderate capital investment as well as minimal maintenance. In the 12 localities of Chennai, where Alacrity has worked - the system has been operating smoothly. One of them is in Tambaram, an 80 flat apartment, where the system is now three years old. Here, the quality of drinking water has remained stable and a dry bore well has begun yielding. The system operates on the principles of gravity with no related problems of chemicals, smell or mosquito breeding.

In many towns, traditional dug wells are being abandoned due to contamination of the water by faecal matter from septic tanks. Alacrity system can avoid such contamination, while reviving the usage of water from the shallow depths.

For details:

Alacrity foundation
25, Thirumalai Pillai Road,
T Nagar, Chennai 600 017
Tel: 044-28251771 Fax: 044-28259406

Back to Top
R. Jeyakumar
A builder, Jeyakumar influenced the local authorities to incorporate and strictly implement rainwater harvesting as a condition in building byelaws and appealed to his fellow builders to take the provision seriously. As a result of his initiatives, rainwater harvesting has been taken up in a big way in residential and commercial constructions throughout Chennai. The model system that he developed for special buildings, has received the first prize in a contest organised by Chennai Metro Water Board. It has been approved and included by the Board in its rainwater harvesting guidebook.

For details:

Rajparis Civil Constructions Limited
Raj Court, 162 B, Greams lane, Thousand Lights,
Chennai 600 006
Tel: 044-28290038, 28290566
Back to Top

Center for Science & Environment CSE Store Equity Watch Gobar Times Down to Earth
Now buy viagra online from different online pharmacies and sort out all sexual performance related issues. You can get comprehensive and up to date source of drug information online. Not only Viagra, but you can buy cialis online also at some discounted price. From the site casino online also you can buy these.