While there are enough and more of those who romanticise the rains, staring at a steady pour flowing down the roads, Shekar Raghavan fumes. He can’t stand the sight of so much of rain water go down the drain. So he got down to Rain Water Harvesting (RWH) to recharge the aquifers in the increasingly concretised urban landscape of Chennai. He found ready support from none another than Jayalalitha, who as CM, made RWH compulsory in all buildings in the state in 2002.
Soon enough, the corporate sector discovered that Raghavan’s domain knowledge could be tapped for their CSR activities. They could work on the project to improve the groundwater table in and around Chennai city. Today, Raghavan’s Akash Ganga Trust has INStalled RWH in more than 20 charitable INStitutions in Chennai. The costs, of course, have been borne by big corporate names like Asian Paints, Crompton Greaves and VA Tech Wabag, the last being a leader in installing water treatment plants.
“Large institutions, especially those built decades ago, have enormous roof areas which send down gallons of rain water. When we use this water to recharge the groundwater, not only do the institutions stand to benefit but also residences in their vicinity. Once local residents learn that RWH in a nearby college or hospital has helped improve the water quality, they show greater interest in maintaining the RWH structures in their buildings. Call it a happy vicious cycle,” quips Raghavan.
T.V. Gopal of Wabag observed that once homes can tap more water from wells, their dependence on piped water supply comes down drastically. Since most of the rain water would be ploughed back into the earth, the need for constructing costly storm water drains can also be avoided and crores of tax payers’ money saved. Raghavan believes that RWH can form a very beneficial component of CSR activity in other urban areas too.
By G.C. Shekhar in Chennai