HOPING to show that water crisis can be resolved through the use of low-tech and simple technology, the Naigaum Armed Police Headquarters has implemented a successful rainwater harvesting project that has earned much appreciation this monsoon. The Mumbai Police, the Centre for Environmental Research and Education (CERE) and a sponsor firm came together to address the water shortage in Naigaum with a long-term, permanent solution — rainwater harvesting.
The area, comprising the police administrative buildings, the housing colony with over 2,300 families in residence, the police station offices and training/parade/sports grounds, were regularly receiving less than 15 minutes of municipal water supply every day. CERE, which has been working with the Mumbai Police since 2015 for plantation of indigenous trees in several areas, came to know of the water shortage and suggested rainwater harvesting as a solution.
“CERE told us that the ground could be used as a resource to contain water to solve the perpetual water shortage and that this could also help prevent flooding. The project was sanctioned and the results were seen in the monsoon that followed,” said Aswati Dorje, Additional Commissioner of Police. The project enables rainwater to percolate into the ground and increase the ground water level. In the largely concretised region, the project has tried to reduce surface runoff, instead encouraging percolation and recharge of depleted ground water aquifers. The Mumbai police, who realised the importance of self-reliance and environmental sustainability, joined hands with CERE to launch its first Rain Water Harvesting project in the city.
Though the project was completed in June, it was inaugurated on October 3, after thorough monitoring and checking. The project not only enabled the refilling of groundwater into providing amply for the needs of the people, but also reduced the flooding miraculously in a low-lying area like Naigaon even after the heavy rainfalls it experienced this year. After the success of the project, the locality has now harvested an estimated 38.8 million litres of rainwater during this monsoon. \”I came to the conclusion that Rainwater Harvesting would be the only long-term, cost-effective, low-maintenance solution to address the water woes here,” says Dr Rashneh N Pardiwala, founder and director of CERE, an ecologist from the University of Edinburgh, UK, and the architect of the project.
“We worked around the clock in a short span of three-and-a-half months to complete the project before the onslaught of the monsoon so as not to miss this season. We undertook training sessions for the police staff to operate the electrical pumps and electrical systems and also awareness sessions for residents of the police colony,” says Dr Pardiwala, who returned to India and established CERE in 2003 to promote environmental sustainability.
“Though the island city of Mumbai comes under the Konkan belt, which receives 2,000 mm of rainfall annually, the lack of foresight leads to severe water shortage after monsoon and it relies on tankers transporting water from villages, up to 150 km away,” said Dr Pardiwala. Over 10,000 water tankers ply the streets of Mumbai city and the cost of fresh water constantly increases with an ever-widening demand-supply gap. The joint project undertaken by the CERE and Mumbai Police have created a remarkable prototype to prove rainwater harvesting can solve water scarcity problems and also save the city from flooding.