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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Bengaluru rainwater harvesting norms expanded despite low compliance with 2011 law

The Karnataka legislative assembly passed a Bill on September 16 making it mandatory for buildings built on sites measuring 60x40 feet or more to harvest and utilise rainwater for internal purposes.

Written by Aksheev Thakur | Bengaluru |
Updated: September 21, 2021 7:25:10 am
rainwater harvestingHouses constructed on large sites will have to install a dual piping system and rainwater harvesting structure for storage and supply of water to toilets, for gardening and washing.

With fewer than two lakh houses in the city of Bengaluru having installed rainwater harvesting systems since a 2011 law made it mandatory for new houses, city officials and experts are not enthused by a new bill that makes it necessary for all large buildings to harvest and utilise rainwater.

The Karnataka legislative assembly passed the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (Amendment) Bill, 2021 on September 16 making it mandatory for buildings built on sites measuring 60×40 feet and more to harvest and utilise rainwater for internal purposes. Houses constructed on large sites will have to install a dual piping system and rainwater harvesting structure for storage and supply of water to toilets, for gardening and washing.

The law does not apply to old houses built on 30×40 feet sites but new houses on the smaller sites will also have to install rainwater harvesting systems.

Experts believe that the Bengaluru Water Supply and Sewerage Board will face an uphill task in ensuring compliance. BWSSB chairman N Jayaram said that less than two lakh houses have installed rainwater harvesting structures in Bengaluru since the passage of the 2011 law.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in a recent audit report for stormwater collection systems in Bengaluru said that more than 40 per cent of properties under the purview of BWSSB failed to install rainwater harvesting structures as prescribed by the 2011 law.

“We are exempting old houses as of now but we do have some plans for them in the future. In case of violations we will levy a 50 per cent extra charge on the water bill as a penalty,” the BWSSB chairman said. He said that rather than utilising the rainwater for toilets and gardening, houses tend to at present release it in the underground network.

“This leads to flooding during heavy rains as several houses simultaneously discharge rainwater. We have to treat the rainwater through the sewage treatment plants (STP) and this impacts the sewage network,” he added.

Ram Prasad, co-founder of the NGO Friends of Lakes, is of the view that inspections by the BWSSB of new buildings will ensure better compliance to rainwater harvesting norms. The entire stormwater run of the system – including lakes – where water collects should be treated as rainwater structures, he said. “It should result in an increase in groundwater recharge,” he said.

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