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Bureaucracy blues for rainwater harvest on campus
- Approval file from school & education department ‘lost in transit’, groundwater directorate forced to shelve plan

The stranglehold of red tape spares none in Jharkhand. And the groundwater directorate — a key wing of the state water resources department — is one of its VIP victims.

Two years ago, the directorate had launched a project to build rainwater harvesting systems in all public and private schools in the state, beginning from Ranchi. It was decided that the groundwater authorities would bear infrastructure cost, while schools would have to allocate room on campus and issue a formal no-objection.

As a first step towards this ambitious plan to recharge groundwater, a blueprint was drafted for Amar Shaheed Thakur Shahdeo Zilla School, located near Albert Ekka Chowk in the capital. But, the plan never left the drawing board, thanks to an elusive file from the school and education department that never reached the groundwater authorities.

Directorate officials ran from pillar to post for more than a year to get the stamp of approval particularly from three public servants — the principal, the district education superintendent and the district education officer — but failed. Result: the funds lapsed and the project was shelved.

“We had earmarked around Rs 75,000 for rainwater harvest at Ranchi zilla school. But, files didn’t move. When we approached the principal, we were told that the file had gone up. When we enquired at higher level (district education office), officials said it hadn’t reached them. We were so frustrated with the attitude of education officials that we dropped the plan. The loss is theirs, not ours,” said S.L.S. Jageshwar, the director of groundwater directorate.

According to directorate officials, the project, if implemented, would have benefited all. The plan was to dig a 10ft by 10ft pit, where monsoon’s largesse could be harvested.

“Water harvesting pits are important to increase the groundwater level. Jharkhand receives around 1,200mm rainfall during its four-month monsoon, which is way higher than the national average. However, more than 85 per cent of rainwater is wasted. The harvesting system can channelise this natural resource into the soil. If the pit had been made, the school and its adjoining areas wouldn’t have had problem for two-three summers,” said Jageshwar.

The director said the project would have also acted as a campaign to “sensitise” students and their parents on water conservation. “We have recently created two harvesting pits in Dhanbad’s zilla school, while DAV-Bariatu has created one with its own funds,” he added.

When confronted Ranchi zilla school principal Mahant Dubey conceded that a plan for rainwater harvesting on campus had been floated, but couldn’t explain the reason behind the inordinate delay in implementation. “I don’t know about the status of the project because files have been sent to higher officials (read district education officer) long time ago. We haven’t heard anything thereafter,” he said.

District education officer M.K. Singh too sounded unsure. “I am not aware why the plan was dropped. It is the groundwater directorate’s plan, they have the right to drop it. To my knowledge, we had asked the school principal to make space available. I have to check details,” he said.

How do you think the project can be revived? Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com


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