Vadodara: Over 1,000 primary and secondary government schools in Gujarat’s Vadodara district have set up rainwater harvesting structures in an effort to better conserve water.
The project ‘Varsha Jal Nidhi’, a brainchild of District Magistrate Shalini Agrawal, can harvest upto 1 lakh litres of water per school.
Such has been the buzz around it that Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned it in his June Mann ki Baat radio programme, and urged people to think of such small initiatives.
Speaking to ThePrint, Agarwal said Vadodara was the first district in the country to implement rainwater harvesting structures in all its government schools. She said she was motivated to come up with such an initiative after the district was flooded by rains last August.
“Last year, there were huge floods in Vadodara. It was the worst flood witnessed in the last 30 to 35 years and the whole city was submerged. Even after the floods, there were complaints of drinking water and I was very disturbed by the wastage of this water,” she told ThePrint.
On an average, only 8 per cent of rainwater in India is harvested.
“We committed that in one year before the next monsoon, we will cover all our government schools with rainwater harvesting structures,” she added.
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‘Decentralised’ approach key to finishing project
At a cost of less than Rs 6 crore, the district officials set up rainwater harvesting structures in all government schools within nine months of last year’s floods.
Agrawal said they started setting up the structures in schools from last September and now the institutes are ready to harvest rainwater of this monsoon.
Agrawal estimated that after this rainy season, the district will be able to save 10 crore litres of water.
“We have over 1,30,000 students in government schools. So, if we calculate their drinking water requirement, this project will be able to provide drinking water for at least four and a half years,” she said.
Agrawal also said that a “decentralised” approach was key to finishing this project within nine months, and added that the project was only sustainable because local communities took ownership of it.
The district is now expected to install rainwater harvesting structures in industrial complexes and government colleges too.
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