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The implementation of Rainwater Harvesting in
the state of Tamilnadu was launched
as a people’s movement. The inspiration of the Chief Minister translated the
As early as in May 2001, Rain Water Harvesting was given prime importance in
Honourable Chief Minister’s budget announcement. This was followed by the
Ministers address on Independence Day in 2001. Attention was drawn to the
prospect of harvesting water in open areas, wells, tanks etc.
During the budget session in 2002 the emphasis was on saving every drop of
The discussion under scored the measures to be implemented. The drought in
brought forth the urgency to combat the crisis. The movement gathered
after the declaration of the ordinance.
Honourable Chief Minister’s budget announcement
“The Government recognises the benefits of harvesting rainwater to augment
receding surface and ground water levels in the State. We propose to
massive awareness campaign and disseminate information on appropriate
harvesting structures for rural and urban area. Existing town planning
regulations will be
suitably amended and enforced to ensure that all private, public and
buildings meet the roof top rainwater harvesting requirements."
Independence Day Address delivered by the Honourable Chief Minister of
The inspiration to find a solution to the perennial problems of water
scarcity came from
the Independence Day Address delivered by the Honourable Chief Minister of
on August 15, 2001.
“The failure of the monsoons in the previous years and the indiscriminate
groundwater have led to the scarcity of water for drinking and agriculture.
is due to improper maintenance of the minor irrigation tanks, temple tanks,
wells, etc., and also due to the ineffective water management and
practices. Rainwater harvesting will be accorded prime importance. All water
tanks, ponds, lakes, temple tanks, in rural and urban areas will be renovated
to serve as
rainwater harvesting structures.”
Budget session in 2002
Again, during the budget session in 2002, among the various measures
water management, it was emphasized that:
‘The focus will be to save every drop of water and make rain water harvesting
everybody’s business and ensure availability of safe drinking water besides
available for industry.’
Chief Minister’s announcement
After the depressing drought that hit the entire state in 2002, the Chief
upon the urgency to implement rainwater harvesting to conserve every precious
rain. The Chief Minister declared, “With the North East Monsoon due from
we have to act post haste to implement Rainwater Harvesting on a Mission
conserve every drop of rainfall and ensure that groundwater resources are
Implementation of RWH in phases
Phase I of implementing RWH was launched by the Government of Tamilnadu with
historic ordinance, titled as “Tamilnadu Municipal and Panchayat Laws
and issued on July 19, 2003”, the ordinance, made Rain Water Harvesting
mandatory for all buildings in the state. The deadline for constructing the
was set for August 31, 2003, a month ahead of the monsoon season.
The ordinance further provisioned that if the deadline was not met, the
Executive Authorities will act to provide the structure and recover the cost
owner in the same manner as property tax.
Phase II – Expanded program
On 20th August 2003, the Chief Minister directed the RWH campaign to cover
fields, patta lands, road margins, streets, tanks, ponds and other open areas
have the potential to harvest runoff water.
Phase II of the RWH campaign targeted all open places where rainwater can be
harvested and wastage of this valuable resource prevented. Construction of
recharge structures was planned at National and State Highways, Panchayat and
union roads, temple tanks, forest area etc.,
Launch a Mass movement
a. Chief Minister’s letter
The Chief Minister personally wrote to over 15,000 elected representatives
Mayors of Corporations, Chairpersons and Vice-Chairpersons of Municipalities
Town Panchayats and Presidents of Village Panchayats appealing to them to
the movement to conserve water through RWH. To accentuate the importance of
movement, a meeting was organised in all he districts and the letters were
over to the elected representatives.
Once again for Expanded Program under Phase II, the Chief Minister personally
wrote to all the local body chiefs requesting them to involve actively.
The personal note from the Chief Minister had a tremendous impact.
A communication strategy to reach the message of RWH to every citizen,
community, NGO, educational institution, private organization and government
was framed. The multi modal communication methods included the print,
direct contact with the public and the ubiquitous Internet. Different state
departments coordinated the publicity campaigns that targeted people at all
Jingles were broadcast over the radio. Celebrities’ endorsements were
make the messages more forceful.
Advertisements and plays were telecast all over the region. Stars for the
added their inimitable touch with earnest appeals. Message scrolls were
in cable network.
Slides about RWH were screened in all Cinema Theatres.
Street plays and short films added dynamism to the RWH campaign.
Advertisements and experience of people who had implemented RWH were
released in the local dailies in regional languages throughout the campaign
Brochures and leaflets with technical and cost details about RWH were
all government offices and to the public.
Hoardings and wall paintings at places of high visibility exhibited the
effectiveness of RWH. Posters were displayed in all public buildings.
illustrations about RWH on panels mounted on buses and autos became a common
Further to disseminating information through the print and audiovisual media,
students, people from all walks of life and officials in government
invited to seminars and workshops to expose them to the benefits of RWH and
simple installation methods.
Several seminars were conducted in many a venue around the state with
distinguished personalities engaged in water resource management.
Information seminars for District Development Officers and Block Development
officers, were held at
Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority Office
Institute of Public Health Engineers, Poonamallee,
State Institute for Rural Development, Maraimalainagar
A Seminar was organised for the students of Anna University at the Central
Seminars were held exclusively for women, including Self Help Groups (SHG) in
rural areas to sensitise them on the utility of RWH structures
One-day workshop on Urban Rainwater Harvesting was conducted at Chennai, with
the participation of Municipal Engineers, Town Panchayat Officials, Chennai
Corporation Engineers, TWAD and CMWSSB Officials and NGOs.
Workshops were also organised at the District Collectorates with the
the Tahsildars, Block Development Officers, Municipal Engineers, Chief
Officers and Engineers from TWAD, PWD, Agricultural Engineering Departments
and public representatives.
Technical guidance was offered by TWAD and CMWSSB on the lithology and soil
types in different areas and the types of RWH needed.
This part of the exercise was aimed at motivating communities, groups,
industries and commercial establishments to adopt rainwater harvesting to
Door to door campaigns
CMWSSB’s field staff conducted door-to-door campaigns. They also
the services of engineering and polytechnic students. A total of 55,000
pressed into service for a one-day door-to-door campaign in Chennai city.
More than 25,000 young people were empanelled by TWAD Board throughout the
State as Service Providers, trained in the implementation of the various
RWH and involved in the mass promotion and implementation of RWH.
Volunteers in other parts of the state added their mite in reaching out to
upon their neighbours about the importance of collecting and storing water
Rallies & Human chain
District Collectors organised massive rallies and human chains involving
organisations, school and college students, to make it a mass movement.
The Chief Minister mooted a proposal to award a prize and write a personal
each and every child in each and every class, who personally motivates his /
parents to provide RWH structures in their house.
Prizes were instituted for the three Best Schools and three Best Teachers in
district, who successfully propagated rainwater harvesting.
Food for Work program was dovetailed to achieve the twin objectives of
employment to the needy and in enrolling labour for implementing the RWH
in remote areas.
The Collector of the Best District in terms of performance with regard to
harvesting was awarded a shield.
The Chief Minister felicitated the elected representatives of the town
who achieved 100% coverage in their jurisdiction before the stipulated date
f) Technical support
Permanent Information Centres on Rainwater Harvesting functioning at the TWAD
head office and in all its district level offices provide free technical
CMWSS Board has established Information Centres at its head office.
Information Centres setup in all District Collectorates help residents with
Rain Centres with working models of Rainwater Harvesting methodology have
setup in TWAD Board and CMWSS Board in Chennai.
The Rain Centre, run by Akash Ganga Trust, a non-profit organization, is a
house on rainwater harvesting. This is a one-stop place that provides all
including designs, cost estimates and a list of contractors to install the
Websites providing comprehensive information on Rainwater Harvesting have
hosted. Periodical updating of the websites is being done.
TWAD Board: http://www.aboutrainwaterharvesting.com
CMWSS Board: http://www.chennaimetrowater.com
A link has been provided in the website of TWAD Board – http://www.twadboard.com
TWAD Board and CMWSS Board installed Helpline numbers and advertised it
prominently in all newspapers and transport systems.
7. Result of the campaign
Results always happen when leaders take the initiate. The act of leading by
is a strong motivator and like always it galvanised the entire populace of
RWH at the Chief Minister’s residence
Even before the ordinance came into effect, the Honourable Chief Minister had
implemented RWH structures in her own residence, thereby making a perfect
example of putting the government’s policy into practice.
RWH in all Government buildings
The government agencies too led by way of example. Their swift action
installation of RWH facilities in the buildings belonging to the state.
First among these were the Raj Bhavan, Ripon Building and the Government
Secretariat followed by the head offices of other state departments.
Tamilnadu Water Supply and Drainage Board (TWAD)
TWAD not only spearheaded the campaign to disseminate the message about RWH
through advertisements, seminars, website, Help line, Rain Centre etc. but
among the first to install RWH facilities in its offices.
In TWAD House, its Head office at Chennai, roof top rainwater harvesting to
recharge the shallow aquifer was done through the construction of 3 recharge
trenches and a recharge well.
Implementation of RWH structures soon followed, in the office buildings owned
the TWAD board, inspection bungalows and the water quality testing
TWAD continues with the construction of recharge structures under schemes
by the Prime Minister’s Gramodaya Yojana, Accelerated Rural Water Supply
Programme, NABARD and the UNICEF.
Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB)
Beginning with the installations of RWH in its head office in Chennai, the
rendered technical advice and helped property owners in installing suitable
structures in their buildings.
Corporation of Chennai
The Corporation of Chennai has installed RWH facilities in all its properties
schools, office buildings, hospitals, maternity centres, community centres,
playgrounds etc. RWH structures are provided in road margins, streets,
bridges and low-lying open spaces in the city of Chennai. It introduced
storm water drains without concrete lining to allow seepage and recharge of
The Chennai Corporation together with the Hindu Religious & Charitable
Endowments Department has provided RWH structures in 14 temple tanks
Arulmigu Parthasarathy Temple, Triplicane, Kabaleesvarar temple, Mylapore and
others in different parts of the city.
Several departments and organisations were involved in promoting and
implementing rainwater harvesting programme.
All educational institutes played multiple roles in the campaign. Besides
RWH facilities, the management of schools and colleges encouraged teachers
children spread the word about water conservation and harvesting.
Non-Government Organisations (NGO)
Akash Ganga, Exnora, National Rainwater Harvester’s Network, Dhan foundation,
Mayil Natural Club, Rotary Club and other NGOs actively promoted rainwater
harvesting in urban and rural areas.
National Social Service (NSS)
The NSS coordinators, organisers and programmers in educational institutions
promoted rainwater harvesting by adopting a village.
Women Self Help Groups (SHG)
The Collectors of each district involved Women’s Self-Help Groups in rural
championing the cause for preserving water and erecting RWH.
Residents’ associations in innumerable towns, colonies and apartment clusters
also involved. People who had already implemented RWH structures in their
came forward to share their success stories to inspire fellow citizens.
8. Response to the mass movement
Response from urban areas
The government order became a people’s movement. The awareness created on the
necessity of Roof top rainwater harvesting resulted in a positive reaction.
people realize the importance of rainwater harvesting for conservation of
water resources. RWH structures were installed at in all buildings across the
state at a rapid pace. The data collated indicates the effectiveness of the
communication strategy and people’s response.
By the end of October 2003, a total of 48,11,325 Non-government buildings in
areas had RRWH installations. RWH is now adopted in every individual and
multistoried building (private houses, commercial buildings, private
institutions) in the
Response from rural areas
People from rural areas responded with enthusiasm by installing RRWH in
buildings. Even the small huts are provided with RWH facility for collecting
water in small storage containers.
Response from the government sector
Rooftop rainwater harvesting facilities have been erected in 1,72,341
Response to Phase II - expanded program
Apart from this, during the second phase of the program 2,57,75,694 rainwater
harvesting projects have been completed so far. These include Check dams,
Percolation ponds, Farm ponds, Ponds, Ooranies, Dykes, Cattle ponds, Temple
tanks, Recharge wells, Desiltation of tanks and Minor Irrigation tanks etc.