Water Harvesters | Centre for Science and Environment


Water Harvesters

 
Ashutosh Agnihotri
 

Instead of relying on others for solving his water problem, Ashutosh Agnihotri, an enterprising resident of Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh, took up the responsibility himself. In June 2001, while constructing his house, Agnihotri decided to build an underground tank to store rainwater, instead of levelling the ground. The runoff from the roof is diverted through PVC pipes to a 35,000 litres tank. Today, when his neighbours are feeling the stress due to meagre rains, he feels investing Rs 15,000 in installing the system was worth it.

His motivation to harness rainwater came from one of CSE's publications, Dying Wisdom, which vividly documented age-old water harvesting systems of communities in India. Today, he is deeply involved in sensitising his neighbours.

For details:
C/o Cancer Care Clinic
Q 13, Sneh Nagar, Yadav Colony,
Jabalpur
Madhya Pradesh
Tel: 0761-2317973

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Brig Jagdev Singh
 

For most of us, rights come before duties, but not for Brigadier Jagdev Singh, a resident of Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. He understood the importance of rainwater harvesting and decided to implement it in his two-storied flat, irrespective of the negative attitude of others around him. CSE gave him technical support. In June 2001, the water management committee of the Vasant Vihar Residents' Welfare Association invited CSE to give a presentation on rainwater harvesting. Brigadier Singh, like many others, was negatively affected by the declining water table. He said, "I had two tube wells with plenty of water, but in due course of time they got dried up." He continued, "People are careless towards the environment. Though the amount required is nominal, people still are reluctant to contribute, as they think that these are not their problem." He, unlike many others, decided to take action.

A proposal was prepared by CSE for reviving the dried up tube wells. In the plan, the casing pipe of the tube well is slotted, so as to facilitate easy recharging. Filter beds comprising sand and gravel are provided to take care of silt and sediments. The entire plan, for an area of 285 square meters with an annual average water harvesting potential of 1.47 lakh litres, was completed within a cost of Rs 7,500. While speaking about the expected benefits, he said, "I hope that the water table will go up." His hopes will come true; if few others keep joining this conservation drive everyday.

For details:
Brig. Jagdev Singh
A-11/4, Vasant Vihar,
New Delhi

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D V Subramanaian
 

After personally testing the benefits of rainwater harvesting, D V Subramanaian, a retired deputy director from the Indian Meteorological Department, is actively involved in sharing his understanding with the people in Chennai city. It began in 1999, when he decided to try to improve the quality of water, which had high a iron content, by implementing rainwater harvesting in his house. The cost being a constraint, he initially diverted the water from only half the roof area to the borewell through a filtering chamber. The results were remarkable, encouraging him to cover the entire roof.

In 2000, during a talk in the Indian Meteorological Society, Chennai, he became the first person to speak about the need to divert rainwater from the flyovers and the roofs of Mass Rapid Transport System (MRTS) stations for recharging, which was accepted. This physics postgraduate has 40 projects to his credit till date and is still going strong.

For details:
Flat No 8, Krishna Kutir,
11, Justice Sundaram Road, Mylapore,
Chennai 4
vijayamani@vsnl.com

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K R Gopinath
 

This is a story about a man who used to deal with iron and steel in his factory at Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Today, his name has become synonymous with rainwater harvesting. 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 in my house," he says. This project began in a humble manner, but has gone a long way. At present, more than 2,500 houses in Chennai, some industrial complexes 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 a recharged borewell.

Gopinath has also set up a firm called 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 late prime minister Indira Gandhi's birth anniversary at New Delhi.

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K R Narayanan
 

In November 1998, the then-President of India K R Narayanan invited CSE to suggest measures to harvest water at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. An advisory committee was set up by CSE, which developed a plan for water harvesting at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The Central Public Works Department (CPWD) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) are undertaking the implementation of the scheme. The Presidential Estate covers an area of 133 hectares (1.33 sq. km.).

The water requirements of the presidential estate are huge since there are about 7,000 people residing in the estate. Approximately 3,000 people visit the presidential premises everyday. The Mughal Gardens in the estate require a lot of water. The total demand is about 2 million litres of water per day (730 million litres per year). This demand is met through the New Delhi Municipal Corporation supply and the estates own borewells.

Since about 35 per cent of the water requirements are being met through groundwater sources, there had been an alarming decline of groundwater levels in the estate. Levels have gone down by 2 to 7 m in the past decade, with one well running dry.

The rainwater endowment of the area is 811 millions litres annually. Estimated cost of installing the system is Rs 20 lakh. The following measures are planned for the estate:

• Rainwater from the northern side of roof and paved areas surrounding Rashtrapati Bhavan is diverted to an underground storage tank of 1 lakh litre capacity for low quality use.

• Overflow from the one-lakh litre capacity rainwater storage tank mentioned above is diverted to two dugwells for recharging. Rainwater from the southern side of the roof is diverted for recharging a dry open well. Rainfall runoff from the staff residential area is also diverted to the dry well. Water passing into the recharge well is passed through a desilting tank to remove pollutants. The nine-lakh litre capacity swimming pool in the estate is planned to be connected to the dry dug well, so that during periodic emptying of the pool, water can be used for recharging instead of being drained away.

• 15 m deep recharge shafts will be constructed in the staff residential area. Rainwater available from rooftops, roads and parks will be used for recharging.

• A johad is a crescent-shaped bund that is built across a sloping catchment to capture the surface runoff. Water accumulating in the johad percolates in the soil to augment the groundwater. Johads have traditionally been used in Rajasthan for harvesting water. A johad is planned to be constructed near the Mughal Gardens.

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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. 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 a 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 Chennai is certainly going to have watery days ahead.

For details:
Anna University, Chennai
Mobile: 9840142482

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M N Mitra
 

Though he has no formal training in engineering or water management, M N Mitra has been pioneering rainwater harvesting in Chennai. He has completed more than 150 projects after starting the TRY (Trees, Rain and You) Charitable Trust in 1999. His employer, the State Bank of Hyderabad, is promoting the work. It all started in 1997, when faced with severe drought Mitra decided to install a rainwater harvesting system in his apartment building. Undeterred by the lack of response on the part of the other residents, he went ahead. Mitra not only did the entire initial planning himself but also paid for the implementation cost. His hard work paid off. Today, the complex is able to meet its water needs.

One unique feature of TRY's work that deserves particular attention is the use of baby wells. "If all the shop owners in the crowded area of Pondy Bazaar build one baby well each, the problem of water logging could be solved", says Mitra. Moreover, while 100 storm drains cost over Rs 48 lakhs, 100 baby wells will just need Rs 8 lakhs.

For details:
Flat No 22, Temple View Apartments,
Dr Vasudev Nagar Extension,
Thiruvanmiyur,
Chennai 600 041

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Mangalam Balasubramaniam
 

An advisor to Danida, Mangalam Balasubramaniam is actively involved in mobilizing communities to take up rainwater harvesting. One of her major achievements includes inspiring 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 literally means "Rs 300 for one foot (of the temple tank wall)". However, adi in Tamil 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 mindset of the people, who had experienced the positive impact of implementing rainwater harvesting in their houses. Initially they used to say, 'Namakken vambu?' (why bother?).

But when they realised that the quality of water in their wells had improved drastically, and the money they would spend on buying water resources during summer had declined - their attitudes changed. Balasubramanian rightly explains, "For any community effort to be successful, the change must be visual."

More than half 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

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Pawan Garg
 

Pawan Garg, a hydro-geologist turned industrialist, is promoting rooftop rainwater harvesting to control the depleting groundwater tables in and around Raipur, Madhya Pradesh. In 1997 he set up a non-governmental organisation - 'Rooftop water harvesting and water management society', comprising four hydro-geologists and 10 skilled and unskilled workers, who have successfully implemented the technique in about 2,000 houses. When he started working, the area was suffering from acute water scarcity. "About 60 per cent of the population in Raipur is dependent on groundwater. Almost every house has a borewell. Continued extraction of water has aggravated the problem, forcing people to go in for deeper borewells."

With the assistance of pamphlets and street shows he started a campaign to generate awareness among the people. The initial response was poor but slowly hope started emerging and strengthening with the increase in people's level of awareness. "It all started from Dr Sudarshan's residence," he fondly remembers, "Although the rainwater harvesting system was installed in 1998, the yield and quality of water from his bore well improved only in 2001." He uses simple techniques. The rainwater from the roof is diverted through pipes into the filtration pit and then to the bore well for groundwater recharging. For every 1,200 sq ft, one filter is used. This success story snowballed - with more and more people coming forward to harvest rain.

For details:
Rooftop water harvesting and water management society
301, Shrisiti Apartments,
Shankar Nagar, Raipur 492 001
www.roofwaterharvesting.com

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R Ramani
 

Ramani likes to be known as the 'crusader for rainwater harvesting'. Just a couple of minutes of interaction with him leaves one with no doubt that he is truly worthy of this sobriquet. To avoid buying water in the wake of 1988's 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 his residence. As a result, not a single drop of water is wasted in his house, which has been developed as a model. It is also open for 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

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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," she reveals.

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 now taken her mission beyond Chennai to the rural areas.

For details:
Municipal Administration and Water Supply
Secretariat,
Cheenai 600 009
Tel: 044-25360491

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Surinder Bansal
 

Bansal is an unassuming businessman from Haryana, who is doing remarkable work for the people in Jamalpura. His life took a significant turn in 1995, when he read a review of Talab, a well-known book written by Anupam Mishra. Not only did he read the book carefully, he also met the author. "It was an inspiring encounter. And, I decided to spread awareness about this book and the issues it addresses.

The response of the people was encouraging", he said. He has translated Talab in Gurmukhi, so that more people can read it. "I never thought of joining or starting any organisation or group. I want to work with people on my own terms", he says. For past few years, in the months from June to September, he and a few other interested people plant new trees. Recently, he has also obtained approval from Shiromoni Gurduwara Prabandhan Committee to take up tree plantation on vast tracts of land owned by this body.

For details:
Jamalpura, Malerkotla 148023
Haryana
Tel: 0167-23652435

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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 it.

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

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Venkatraman
 

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 own 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 residents 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 a pipe of four inches in 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 respect and conserve it.

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Vijay Kumar
 

When it comes to making a difference, a little initiative can go a long way. And no one knows this better than Vijay Kumar, a gardener-cum-mason, who has taken upon himself the responsibility of maintaining the rainwater harvesting systems, designed by CSE, at Janaki Devi Mahila College (JDMC), New Delhi. A daily wager for the last ten years, Vijay used his observant nature to study the potentiality of rainwater harvesting to overcome Delhi's water problems. He has a complete understanding of the rainwater harvesting systems of JDMC.

While sharing his views, he made some valuable suggestions to improve the system. He proposed increasing the width of the pipes carrying water from the trench on the main gate to the recharge well. This, he believes, will prevent 50 per cent of the run-off from getting wasted. Vijay feels that broken bricks should be used in the filtration bed rather than stones, as bricks have a better capacity to soak and release water.

Vijay has implemented these changes in one of the four-filtration beds at JDMC and is now looking forward to spreading the revolutionary technique across a wider spectrum.

For details:
House No 7, Staff Quarters,
Janaki Devi Mahila College
Old Rajendra Nagar
New Delhi

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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 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.

For details:
Alacrity foundation
25, Thirumalai Pillai Road,
T Nagar, Chennai 600 017
Tel: 044-28251771 Fax: 044-28259406
management@alacritymail.com

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M Mohan Rao
 

"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.

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R. Jeyakumar
 

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 harvesting guidebook.

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

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S Vishwanath
 

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

For details:
Rainwater Club
264, 6th Block, BEL Layout,
Vidyaranyapura,
Banglore 560 097
Tel: 080-28381690 / 28382435
chitravishwanath@vsnl.com

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Ahmad Ali Khan
 

Ahmad Ali Khan, executive engineer at Jamia Hamdard University, New Delhi, is a thorough professional eager to experiment with innovative technologies. He has played a key role in developing, implementing and sustaining the largest and most diverse rainwater harvesting project that CSE has designed in the Capital. Under Ali's constant vigil, Jamia harnesses rainwater from roof-tops, surface and adjoining forest areas in its camps that is spread over an area of 100 acres.

To promote efficient water management strategies, Ali has also initiated water conservation measures such as grey water recycling for gardening purposes, and a strict tapwater-usage regulating system for the buildings in the institute. He acknowledges that this immense work would not have been possible without the support and inspiration by Siraj Hussain, Vice Chancellor of the university.

Water Harvesting System in Jamia Hamdard University

For details:
Ahmed Ali Khan,
Executive Engineer,
Engineering Department,
Jamia Hamdard University,
New Delhi.
Phone: (011) 26059672/87/88 Extn: 5370 (office), 5371 (res)

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Anil Agarwal
 

Anil Kumar Agarwal, the founder of the Centre for Science and Environment, spearheaded the Jal Swaraj campaign. His thoughts, ideas and opinions remain the driving force behind the movement. Agarwal conceptualised and edited the CSE publications Dying Wisdom - which explores the tremendous potential of India's traditional water harvesting systems - and Making Water Everybody's Business - which documents water harvesting technologies that are being practiced even today by communities in various parts of the country. These two widely-read books have gone a long way in putting the issue of community-based water management on the national agenda.

Agarwal, who passed away on January 2, 2002, graduated from one of India's leading engineering colleges in 1970, but gave up a promising technical career to become a science journalist so he could explore the country's scientific and technological needs. He joined Delhi's leading English daily The Hindustan Times as a science correspondent in 1973 and soon discovered India's most evocative environmental movement - Chipko - in 1974.

The reportage of this movement not only led to a nationwide interest in environmental conservation, it also brought home to Agarwal the importance that the environment and its natural resource base hold for the local village economy and for meeting the daily needs of villagers in terms of water, firewood, fodder, manure, building materials and medicinal herbs. This was still a time when the leadership of the developing world believed that economic development must take precedence over environmental conservation. But this understanding of the relationship between the poor and their environment soon turned Agarwal into a lifelong environmentalist and a renowned environmental analyst and writer.

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Aruna Ludra
 

Aruna Ludra's association with CSE began while she was working with Janki Devi Memorial College, New Delhi, as a reader in English. She has now retired, but the institution still remembers her as the pioneer who transformed the terrain of the campus, which is situated in a rocky area. It all started when, on one particular year, the students and the faculty faced a severe water shortage. It was then that Ludra decided to explore the technology of rainwater harvesting. She approached CSE for guidance and initially even financed the project herself. The college authorities were impressed and eventually came forward to support this determined water warrior. Ludra is currently teaching gardening at the All India Kitchen Gardeners' Association.

Water Harvesting System at Janki Devi Memorial College

For details:
Aruna Ludra,
Retired English Lecturer,
C-3, Janki Devi Memorial College,
Sri Ganga Ram Hospital Marg,
Old Rajender Nagar,
New Delhi.
Phone: (011) 25741858, 25786720, (mobile) 9810840158

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Atul Bhalla
 

Atul Bhalla teaches art at the Mira Model School, Janakpuri, New Delhi. He also grooms students into responsible, environmentally-conscious citizens. Bhalla approached CSE for technical guidance for setting up a rainwater harvesting system in the school campus, which covers an area of 16,000 sq.m. He personally supervised the project and was involved in every phase of construction. Although the rainwater harvesting system is now operational in Mira Model School, Bhalla's vigil is far form over.

He believes that while artificial recharging through rainwater harvesting is essential to sustain the groundwater level, the key to good management lies in minimising use and preventing wastage. Among the many other significant measures, he has refurbished and modernised the tapwater network in the school building. Bhalla's efforts have earned many accolades for the school, including an ISO 14001-1996 and ISO 9000-2000 accredition for being the best environmentally managed institution in the capital. Water Harvesting System at Mira Model School

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Krishan Saigal
 

Dr Krishan Saigal is a retired IAS officer, whose tryst with the concept of rainwater harvesting began when he was heading an international NGO promoting sustainable development of oceans and coastal areas. He initiated a number of roof-top rainwater harvesting projects in Dalit villages in Tamil Nadu. Since then, Dr Saigal, who now heads the Panchsheel Cooperative House Building Society Limited, has become a die-hard proponent of rainwater harvesting.

He successfuly convinced the members of the Managing Committee of the Society to implement the system in the South Delhi colony of Panchsheel. Panchsheel Park was in fact the first residential colony in New Delhi to adopt rainwater harvesting. Saigal and his team completed the task on their own, with technical guidance from CSE. Now Panchsheel Park is often projected by the Delhi state government as a 'model residential area'. Saigal's enthusiasm and zeal ensures that the colony is always in the limelight. For the right reasons, of course.

Water Harvesting System at Panchsheel Park

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Madhu Bhatnagar
 

Head of Environment and Value Education at the Shri Ram School in Vasant Vihar, Delhi, Madhu Bhatnagar is spearheading the campaign for better environment by mobilising students. "Catch 'em young" is her motto - empowering students to spread awareness among the families and society. "The most intractable environmental problem marches towards a solution when people get involved," she says. After joining the Shri Ram School, Bhatnagar started an environmental club known as The Green Brigade. Through this club, the school has been on the forefront of various campaigns like the anti-plastic drive, anti-cracker drive, fighting for banning the use of mongoose hair for paintbrushes, and promoting rainwater harvesting.

Under her leadership, the school has implemented a rainwater harvesting system in the complex. The rooftop water is diverted through drainpipes to a recharge borewell after it passes through a filtration-cum-buffer tank, which was made at a cost of Rs 1,30,000. The work was completed in May 2000, and is yielding rich dividends. Already by 2002, the groundwater table had increased by almost four metres. The quality of water has also shown considerable improvement. The school has now plans to assist rainwater harvesting projects in other municipal schools. They have also sought permission from the Delhi Development Authority for a rainwater harvesting project in the Ridge area, just behind the school.

Water Harvesting System at Shri Ram School

For details:
Madhu Bhatnagar,
Deputy Head,
The Shri Ram School,
D 3 Street, Vasant Vihar,
New Delhi 110 057

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Subhash Sharma
 

Subhash Sharma, Deputy Superintendent of Tihar Jail, has played a key role in setting up a rainwater harvesting project in one of the largest prisons of the world, covering an area of 400 acres. Sharma's contribution goes beyond the mere setting up of physical structures. He motivated the prisoners to participate in the construction work. This not only generated a sense of ownership among them, it also enabled prison authorities to complete the project at a much lower cost than initially estimated.

Water Harvesting System in Tihar Jail

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P L Bhola
 

P L Bhola, Vice Principal, Mother's International School, New Delhi, lives in the institution's vast Ashram complex. He was the first to raise alarm bells about the dipping groundwater levels of South Delhi. He declared that it was absolutely imperative to take steps to combat the emerging water crisis. His resolve is reflected in the rainwater harvesting system installed in the 27 acre school campus. Bhola has certainly been the driving force behind the project that has been completed recently.

Water Harvesting System in Sri Aurobindo Ashram

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Brigadier Ravikant
 

Brigadier Arun Kumar Ravikant (Retd.) is chief general manager, Garden Estate, Gurgaon, an up-market residential complex spread over 22 acres. The brigadier, supported by the Residents' Management Committee, has initiated a strict regimen in a bid to curtail wastage of water and power. The result has been extraordinary. While the water consumption level in Garden Estate has dropped by an impressive 55 per cent, the energy consumption level too has fallen by a striking 25-30 per cent.

Water Harvesting System in Garden Estate

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Ramesh Arora
 

Ramesh Arora, chief engineer, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre, was seriously concerned about the fast depleting groundwater table in Vasant Kunj, New Delhi. In a bid to find a solution to this problem, he attended a miscellaneous services session organised by CSE. He decided that rainwater harvesting was the only sustainable way to bring relief. Subsequently, with the help of CSE professionals, he developed detailed designs of rainwater harvesting structures, and built it in the hospital premises covering an area of 11.04 acres.

Water harvesting system in Indian Spinal Injuries Centre

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Vijay Toley
 

Vijay Toley, Executive Director of Tex Corp Limited, Gurgaon, Haryana, created history when he set up a rainwater harvesting system in the company's 4,000 sq m office premises with assistance from CSE. No other factory in the congested Gurgaon industrial area had achieved this till then. Many have followed since. Toley's contribution in salvaging the fast-depleting groundwater reserves in this region is, therefore, significant.

Water harvesting system in Tex Corp

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