Delayed harvest

Published: Friday 15 August 2008

States slow to tap rainwater in tribal and rural areas

the government's initiative to take rainwater harvesting to tribal and rural areas seems to be heading nowhere due to states' apathy. Gautam Buddha Mukherji, secretary, tribal affairs ministry, had sent a letter to the chief secretaries of all states on March 5, informing them of the ministry's decision to "preferentially consider" construction projects under any of the schemes of the ministry "only if is certified that such structures will include rainwater harvesting systems".

The letter also stated that over a period programmes that did not have such systems might not receive government assistance.

Four months on none of the states has submitted any data on the number of buildings where they plan to install rainwater harvesting structures.

Mukherji told Down To Earth that the thrust was on implementing the initiative in tribal schools, including the ministry-sponsored Eklavya Model Residential Schools and Ashram Schools. According to him, though no provision has been introduced in the ministry's budget with respect to installation of rainwater harvesting structures, states can get money from central funds for the Scheduled Tribes.

Santha Sheela Nair, secretary, department of drinking water, rural development ministry, had also written to state secretaries in charge of rural water supply in favour of rainwater harvesting. More than 46,400 schools in rural areas do not have drinking water facility.

Tarun Seem, mission director, National Rural Health Mission, had told state mission directors to ensure that construction plans under the mission should include provisions for rooftop rainwater harvesting.

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