Not installing a rainwater harvesting system in residential or commercial premises on plots of 500 sq metre or more will attract higher water bills, the Delhi High Court held Monday.
A bench of Justice Manmohan upheld Rule 50 of the Delhi Water and Sewer (Tariff and Metering) Regulations of 2012, which makes it mandatory for all buildings on plots of such sizes to set up rainwater harvesting systems. The rule says any such residential or commercial premises which consume water provided by Delhi Jal Board (DJB) will have to pay 1.5 times the water bill if rainwater harvesting systems are not installed.
“We can’t live in this city without rainwater harvesting,” said the court. It dismissed a petition challenging this rule. The petitioner, who lives in south Delhi’s Anand Lok area, had challenged DJB’s water bills that came to the family with “rain harvesting penalty” added on. The petitioner had argued his house was built in 1988 and the government could “not impose retrospective charges” on citizens.
The petition had also claimed there was “no space” to add a rainwater harvesting system, as the plot had been made into “builder flats”. The petitioner had also argued “retrofitting” the building for the rainwater harvesting system would “require renovation of the roof” and other construction, which was not possible.
“Rainwater harvesting is the need of the hour,” said the bench of Justice Manmohan. The judge commented residents of “poshest areas of Delhi” could “not claim that you have no space”. “If you don’t have space on a 650 metre plot then who has space in the city?” asked the court. In its order, the bench noted “modern technology was available” to install rainwater harvesting systems without extensive renovation.
Advocate Sumeet Pushkarna, appearing for the DJB, argued the rule could not be held to be retrospective. The rule states, “Consumer… having a plot/property of size 500 sq metre or more shall make provision for rainwater harvesting covering the entire plot area, within one year, in case of commercial/industrial property; and within three years for residential property from the date of coming into force of these regulations.”