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Indore’s residential society saves Rs 5 lakh a month, through rainwater harvesting

Before installing rainwater harvesting in 2021, we used to spend Rs 5 lakh on tankers, now this money is being saved, said Mahavir Gole, who manages accounts of C block of Sanghvi Residency, Bicholi Mardana, Indore.

By Pallav Jain and Rajeev Tyagi
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Rainwater harvesting in Indore

Raghvendra Bhargava Resident of Sanghvi Residency Indore shows us how the Rainwater Harvesting System Works

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Indore City, the cleanest city in India, is on the verge of a serious water crisis. According to the report of the Central Ground Water Commission (CGWC) for the year 2023, Indore's groundwater level has decreased by 10 meters in the last ten years, shifting from 150 meters in 2012 to 160 meters in 2023. According to the report, the groundwater level is likely to reach 200 meters by the year 2030, if timely steps are not taken. But what are the right steps necessary to keep Indore away from water crises like Bengaluru?

Water management expert Suresh MG believes that Indore can be saved from serious water crises by rainwater harvesting, deepening of ponds and reviving the channels that recharge them. He said,

“Changes are being seen in areas where people have started storing rainwater through harvesting technique”

Past, and present of Indore’s Anuradha Nagar

In 2018, Deepkant Bagde started building his house in Anuradha Nagar, Indore. He said that he faced a severe water crisis that summer. The water from his newly dug borewell used to dry up in February itself, and he paid for water tankers till the early spells of monsoon. Water Tankers regularly flooded the lanes of Anuradha Nagar in summer, as per Deepkant. On the insistence of his friends and Suresh MG, Deepkant decided to install a rainwater harvesting system at his house in 2019. Deepkant says, 

"We started seeing the benefits only after a year. The borewell which used to dry up in February, has now started providing water throughout the summer."

Rainwater harvesting is an efficient, and inexpensive technique to recharge groundwater levels, explains Deepkant, repeating Suresh MG’s words. Another resident of the area, retired army officer Sanjay Singh Bhadauria spent just Rs 1300 for his entire step-up of the harvesting system in 2020. He said,

“The relatively expensive parts are the filters… they were provided by the Municipal Corporation”

Sanjay Singh Bhadauria with his rainwater Harvesting system
Retired Armymen Sanjay Bhadauria showing his certificate of appreciation given by Indore Municipal Corporation for installing rainwater harvesting at his house

Important to mention, that the cost of installing rainwater harvesting for a house is a maximum of Rs 5000. In this, the cost of the filter is Rs 2000-3000, and the remaining cost is for PVC pipe. 

Deepkant explains the system and, addresses the questions of maintenance. 

“Through this PVC pipe, the roof water comes to the filter, where particles like soil and sand get collected. Then through a valve, the water can be directly discharged into the borewell. Initially, people feared that pumping water directly into the bore well would spoil it. But I have been using it since 2019 and have not faced anything yet. It is also easy to clean.”

Deepkant Bagde Indore showing his Rainwater harvesting system
Deepkant Bagde showing rainwater harvesting system installed at his house

Deepkant has become an advocate for the harvesting system as well. He has been clarifying doubts in his society, and enabling people to install the system. 

“Every alternate house in the society has this system. The results are also visible… I have not seen a tanker being called for many summers now” he added with a smile.

Bicholi Mardana, a case of multistorey residential society

The initial cost of installing a rainwater harvesting system is slightly higher in multistory residential societies. Inevitably, the building requires more pipes to bring water from the roof to the borewell. 

Before 2021, we used to spend Rs 5 lakh on tankers, now this money is being saved, said Mahavir Gole, who manages accounts of C block of Sanghvi Residency, Bicholi Mardana, Indore.

Mahavir Gole got motivated through a radio advertisement to install the rainwater harvesting system in his society. A fellow resident, and Gole’s friend, Raghavendra Bhargava explained, that in 2021, they had installed four filters in different multistorey blocks in his society. The total expense at that time was around a lakh rupees, he added. They installed four more filters last year, provided by the Municipal Corporation. Hence, it reduced their cost to just Rs 67,000. However, as Mahavir Gole added with a laugh,

"It was very difficult for us to convince the people of the society to give money for rainwater harvesting. Here, people find maintenance to be a burden. In such a situation, we adjusted the money from monthly maintenance initially." 

Raghvendra Bhargava Showing Rainwater Harvesting System connected to the society's borewell
Raghvendra Bhargava of Sanghvi Residency showing rainwater harvesting system connected to the society's borewell

Need to reduce dependence on borewells

Raghavendra Bhargava expressed his concerns about the development of a new residential society, just behind their residency. He said, There are 100 plots and each plot will have its separate borewell. He says

"Municipal Corporation should develop a plan and stop the digging of borewells for water use.”

He suggested a more community-driven water utility system, instead of an individual one. He believed that this would reduce the wastage of water, and ensure efficient water usage.

But, there are no government pipelines yet in his area. According to the data received from Indore Corporation, the total population of the city is about 35 lakh. The estimated water consumption of the city is 540 MLD which is met by water received from the Narmada Scheme (440 MLD), Yashwant Sagar Dam (30 MLD) and Bilawali Tank (3MLD). Only 46.65 per cent of the city's population gets water from Indore's water supply network, and 53.35 per cent of the population has to arrange their water. In this, most of the people are dependent on borewells. According to Municipal Corporation data, there are 4945 tube wells and 1004 hand pumps in the city which meet the water requirement of 158 MLD.

Borewell In Indore

Demand supply figures need to be corrected

Kishore Kodwani, a social activist, working on water conservation in Indore, questions these figures and holds the Municipal Corporation responsible for the water crisis in Indore. He says

"The Municipal Corporation is making all the plans according to the water consumption of 135 litres per person per day. Whereas, the lifestyle of the people has changed a lot in the last 10 years. In such a situation, first, the correct figures of demand and supply should be revealed. "

Kodwani further says that "unless the water needs of the city are properly assessed and river ponds are demarcated, we will continue to fail in solving this problem."

Indore is one of the fastest-growing metropolises in India. The population pressure here is continuously increasing and so is the exploitation of natural resources.

Interestingly, two of these areas – Bicholi Mardana, and Anuradha Nagar– are on the outskirts of the city. These areas are relatively less densely populated. Hence, might not be able to present an accurate perspective of the severity of the water crisis in the city, or the solutions of the same.

Indore Municipal Corporation has acknowledged in its water supply report that there is a need to improve the water supply coverage in the city. In the present situation, the condition of the water distribution network is very poor. Due to a disorganized distribution system, the pressure of the water supply is not uniform. It is important to prevent wastage of water due to leakage.

Indore Municipal Corporation

As per the 2022, Indore Municipal Corporation (Rainwater Harvesting) Bylaws, it is compulsory to have a rainwater harvesting system in Indore for all eligible residential buildings. When asked about the progress, Siddarth Jain–Additional Commissioner, Indore Municipal Corporation– said that 25% of the buildings in the city have the system. And, considering the condition of the water level in Indore, this percentage doesn’t reflect urgency. Even, Jain accepts the same. He accepted certain drawbacks and said to have a new approach, and advocacy to motivate people to have the system installed. 

Indore Municipal Corporation is also working on several fronts to improve the groundwater level, including deepening of recharge channels of water bodies, and rejuvenating ponds and traditional water sources. It has been made mandatory to install rainwater harvesting in new houses up to 1500 square feet, along with motivating people to install water harvesting in old houses and commercial establishments. And, a ban has been imposed on digging new borewells till June 30, 2024.

In the next report, we write about how Indore is reviving its lost ponds to tackle the groundwater issue.

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