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Harvest rain, get subsidy

Bhubaneswar, May 12: The water resources department is planning to implement a rainwater harvesting scheme with subsidy component to motivate people to have harvesting structures in houses across urban areas in the state to recharge groundwater.

The scheme, which will cost the state government around Rs 100 crore in five years (2014-2019), will be voluntary in nature. According to the scheme, house owners will have to first come forward to install rainwater harvesting systems and later get the subsidy.

“According to a rough estimate, a house within 200 square metre area will need around Rs 1 lakh for installing a rainwater harvesting system. After installation, water harvesting experts from our department will check its efficiency and the house owner can get Rs 45,000 subsidy. A sum of Rs 5,000 will go to the expert for checking the system in each house as they would work as consultants,’’ said water resources secretary Suresh Chandra Mohapatra.

Though no urban cluster in the state is facing serious groundwater problems such as those in Chennai and Hyderabad, urban areas such as Berhampur and Bhubaneswar were selected as pilot cities for the programme keeping in mind rapid urbanisation in future.

Environmentalist Bijay Mishra said: “For the past five years, the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA) has been harping on rainwater harvesting guidelines. But, it is considering only big structures and not individual houses. But, time has come to include all individual building plans to have rainwater harvesting structures.”

“However, I hope the subsidy component will attract people to harvest rainwater and the number will grow year after year,’’ said Mishra.

While the BDA has not made the inclusion of rainwater harvesting mandatory in all building plans, rainwater harvesting has been made compulsory for structures bigger than 300 square metres. There are 15,000 such structures in the city, but there is no data on how many have actually installed the rainwater harvesting systems.

“We have not made the rainwater harvesting mandatory for smaller and individual structures, but the enforcement has been implemented strictly in big structures. In all high-rise structures and government offices, we asked the authorities to follow the building plans accordingly,’’ said BDA planning committee member Pitabas Sahoo.