What’s more worrying is that of these two lakh properties, 80% are not making use of the harvested water. They continue to depend on Cauvery and underground water for all purposes, defeating the very purpose of RWH installation. The government has no clear data on how many buildings with RWH are actually using the stored water.
Keeping this in view, the state legislative assembly in the recent monsoon session of the legislature had passed a bill making it a must for buildings on sites measuring 60×40 sqft or more to install a dual-piping system and RWH structure for storage and supply of water to toilets, for gardening and washing.
Though experts have welcomed the move, they feel Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and BBMP will face an uphill task in ensuring compliance. “BWSSB and BBMP should adopt a carrot-and-stick policy to ensure compliance. They should incentivise the people who promptly install the dualpiping system and penalise those who don’t,” KN Ramakrishna, an RWH expert, said.
A study conducted by the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC) a few years ago had also observed that 80% of the two lakh properties had installed RWH structures since 2017 after BWSSB started charging an additional 25% on the water bill as penalty for each of the first three months for domestic connections and 50% for commercial establishments. If residents did not comply with the rules even after three months, the penalty was doubled. BWSSB collected nearly Rs 3 crore in fines each month.
Not financially viable: RWAs
Lack of awareness, enforcement, financial problems, and space crunch are some of the reasons cited by resident welfare associations (RWAs) for the poor implementation of RWH. According to them, incorporation of harvesting pits in already built-up areas of houses was not technically feasible in several homes due to space constraints and the move often resulted in disputes between co-owners.
Some associations said the government or BWSSB should take a cue from Delhi Jal Board and come out with a cost-effective model of RWH that costs Rs 16,000 as compared to the conventional one, which costs between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1 lakh per household. To popularise the concept, BBMP had earlier announced some concessions in property tax, but it didn’t work.
Kishan Govindaraju, director, Vaishnavi Group, said availability of safe drinking water has become an increasingly worrying issue and it is important for all new apartments to install RWH and make use of the water for other purposes. Monica Matthias, director, Hoysala Projects, said BBMP and BWSSB should make a collective effort to ensure compliance and focus on installing RWH in public spaces and roads which are prone to waterlogging.
Suresh Hari, chairman, CREDAI Bangalore, said the city should take a cue from Chennai as it now ranks No. 1 in the country.