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 kitchens.
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, then the
bottom of the bed is made permeable to prevent percolation.
From each complex a network of three different pipes separate
wastewater at the 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 principle 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. The Alacrity system can avoid such contamination, while
reviving the usage of water from the shallow depths.
25, Thirumalai Pillai Road,
T Nagar, Chennai 600 017
Tel: 044-28251771 Fax: 044-28259406
"Akash paani rokenga, patal paani badhayenge"
(We will harvest the rainwater and recharge the groundwater).
This was the message given by M Mohan Rao, district collector
of Dewas, Madhya Pradesh, while inaugurating the Bhoojal Samvardhan
Mission, Dewas, on May 28, 1999. First of its kind, the scheme
solved the acute water crisis which has plagued the entire region
for the past 10 years.
Unlike many other bureaucrats, he believed, "No movement
can succeed unless people are involved in it. They have understood
the problem and the solution can only come from them. It will
not come from the government". It was a challenge for
Rao to get public support for what he was planning. But he
never gave up. Rao himself went to the villagers and discussed
how best the people can harness rainwater. After discussing
the issues, various techniques, such as the injection method,
were developed and included as a part of the mission to recharge
deep dry tube wells. His calculations showed that "Even
if 1,000 houses of an area of 1,500 square feet each harness
rainwater, it would be enough to recharge all tube wells".
The people responded. They actively participated by contributing
both in cash and kind. And, the levels of groundwater rose
as collaboration intensified.
A builder by profession, 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
Rajparis Civil Constructions Limited
Raj Court, 162 B, Greams lane, Thousand Lights,
Chennai 600 006
Tel: 044-28290038, 28290566
Vishwanath has designed and implemented several rooftop water
harvesting structures in Karnataka for residences, institutions
and industries. He is an active member of the Rainwater Club,
which has been disseminating information on rainwater harvesting
in Bangalore since 1995. He has also worked for the report 'Conceptual
framework for rainwater harvesting for Bangalore city'. He also
has developed a filter, named VARUN,
for purifying rainwater
264, 6th Block, BEL Layout,
Banglore 560 097
Tel: 080-28381690 / 28382435