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In Assam, water harvesting begins at school

- Education mission takes up project to mitigate drinking water problem in otherwise flooded areas

Guwahati, April 30: Students in Assam schools can no longer be reprimanded for being distracted by the copious showers outside. After all, they will have a rain assignment to handle.

Dispur has decided to engage teachers and students in rainwater harvesting in schools, which are inundated during the monsoons and thirst for drinking water the rest of the year.

The government has already written to all deputy commissioners to commission the rainwater harvesting project as soon as the monsoon begins.

Jayant Narlikar, mission director of Rastriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhijan (RMSA), Assam, told The Telegraph that Assam is one of the rain-infested states in the country and thus the mission has worked out a project to inculcate the habit of conserving rainwater among students for their own use.

“A huge quantum of rain water flows out and often causes flooding in the state during the monsoon. On other hand, many of the schools face water crisis for drinking and hygiene purposes. For instance, there is no water in many toilets. So it is high time that the schools conserve rain water for their own benefit,” Narlikar said.

The Rastriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhijan aims at providing access to quality secondary education, especially for the economically weaker section of society, girls and physically challenged children living in rural areas, other marginalised people and educationally backward minorities.

“Implementation of the rainwater harvesting scheme will not be very costly or difficult. We will have to create certain infrastructure and civil construction to store the huge quantum of rainwater on the rooftop of schools. There are 2,600 secondary schools and the project will cover all the institutions in a phased manner,” Narlikar said.

While the infrastructure will be put in place by the education mission, teachers and students will have to ensure that it is utilised properly. For instance, they will have to make sure that the rooftop tank lid is open when it is raining and then shut once filled.

An Assam government official said a survey conducted by the education department and various NGOs in the recent years have found that there are many schools in districts like Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Morigaon, Nagaon, Dhubri, Barpeta and Nalbari which remain inundated during the monsoon and ironically face severe water crisis in the post-monsoon season.

“The campus of many schools in Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts face silt problem after the flood and thus the authorities cannot dig wells or tubewells to create drinking water sources. Under such circumstances, the rain water harvesting scheme is the best solution for these schools,” the official said.

The scheme will also be implemented in 67 model schools and 65 girls’ hostels for educationally backward blocks to be constructed by the Rastriya Madhyamik Siksha Abhijan.

The Abhijan will also spend Rs 60 crore to build 2,198 additional classrooms, 1,029 science laboratories, 901 computer labs, 896 library and 644 toilet blocks in the state.

Narlikar said all civil construction work under the project would be made earthquake-resistant for safety of students.