Rainwater Harvesting in All the Schools of a District
- Bhakti Kothari
- Published on 28 May 2021, 9:00 am IST
- 4 minutes read
In a bid to tackle Vadodara’s drinking water crisis, IAS officer Shalini Agarwal has installed rainwater harvesting systems in 963 schools of the district.
- Ms. Shalini Agarwal checking out the arrangements
“Water is not our inheritance; it is a loan to us from our children. We have to give it back to them as we have received from our ancestors.” – walking along this principal of Mahatma Gandhi, District Magistrate of Vadodara, Gujarat Ms. Shalini Agarwal gifted the children of the district, a clean drinking water supply throughout their school life. This she did by taking help from nature and its resources.
In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Ms. Agarwal explained the process of gifting over 900 schools of the district with a rainwater harvesting system.
WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE BUT NOT A DROP TO DRINK
The year 2009 brought one of the worst floods in the Vadodara, submerging most of it underwater. At the time, Ms. Agarwal was posted as the Commissioner of Vadodara Municipal Corporation. There was water logging everywhere for 3-4 days and right after the water level in the city subsided, it faced another issue – The drinking water crisis.
“I was surprised to see that the city was practically submerged in water a few days back and as it receded, there was suddenly a drinking water crisis. Where did all the water go?” she wondered.
That’s when she came up with the idea to harvest the rainwater so that the issue can be solved permanently. “In India, only 8% rainwater is harvested, the rest goes to waste. It is the purest and cleanest form of water and I wanted to preserve it,” she told Indian Masterminds.
SCHOOLS FOR RAINWATER HARVESTING
In August-September 2019, right after the city was hit with floods again and the rehabilitation work was over, Ms. Agarwal and her team picked all 1000 schools of the district in rural areas out of which only 37 schools had rainwater harvesting structure, while the remaining 963 schools didn’t have it.
“We wanted to cover all the schools in 2019-20. Therefore, we immediately set out to work and converted funds from Government and CSR funds. For implementation, we decentralized the work and trained individual school management committees in the process, and formed their implementing agencies. These committees looked after the entire process and helped in all the work,” said Ms. Agarwal.
There were a total of 963 committees implementing the entire project. The process was entirely decentralized and the funds were transferred to the school managements directly.
Pointed out Ms Agarwal: “They procured the material, made constructions, they bore all the expenses, and they implemented the project, thereby receiving the ownership of the work.”
COVERING ALL SCHOOLS IN RECORD TIME
Ms. Agarwal wanted to finish the project within a year, but with the help of her team and the numerous committees, they were successfully able to cover all the 963 schools of Vadodara in a record time of nine months!
“Vadodara is probably the first district in India which has rainwater harvesting system in all the government schools of the place. The people felt a sense of pride after they received recognition from the Prime Minister, Central Government, and the State Government and became flag bearers of water conservation in the district,” stated Ms. Agarwal, happily.
DESIGNED BY EXPERTS
The officer had involved a committee of experts from the industrial sector, engineering sector, water conservation, and rainwater volunteers, etc. These experts designed two low-cost models for the place.
“One of them ranged between Rs 25,000-40,000 each for schools that already had tube wells or bore wells. And for the schools that had no boring or tube wells, we had to add in additional cost of the tube well, costing around 1 lakh per unit,” she added.
A SUCCESSFUL PROJECT
Ms. Agarwal continuously followed up with committees, and also did capacity-building training and monitoring of the people throughout the process. Even during the lockdown, right after construction activities were allowed, they again started with the project, which finally reached its completion in May-June 2020.
“The smallest school in the district has the capacity to harvest 1 lakh liter of water. In total, 1000 schools are harvesting 10 crore liters of water, at the minimum. This is just the data of the smallest schools. The bigger ones are helping in harvesting even more than 10 crore liters of water every year,” the officer told Indian Masterminds.
The district houses 1.5 lakh school children and the amount of water collected every year is enough to quench their thirst for four years.
The entire project was implemented in front of the children. It has made them understand and work for water conservation even more. Therefore, the project is named ‘Bal Andolan’ as children are the brand ambassadors of the entire project.
END OF THE ARTICLE