Tapping the surface runoff
ARH ISG ATT CHH
RULERS OF Chhattisgarh since the 10th century understood the topography and soil characteristics of the area and took advantage of that to make water bodies across the city.
The top soil in most of the state has shale and sandstone. It is impermeable and helps in water retention. This also means groundwater is scarce. So the rulers, early on, started devising ways to tap surface runoff keeping in mind the scarce groundwater.
The first lakes were built on land that remained waterlogged for more than three months. The rulers lakes, spread over 69.239 hectares, are polluted and heavily silted.
Flood of diseases
Water samples analysed by Shende and his team show abnormal levels of E coli contamination along with presence of nitrates in higher concentration in drinking water. In fact, in 2013, 627 cases of waterborne diseases in the city were a result of poor sanitation and unhygienic conditions.
Shende’s findings are corroborated by Bodhankar who connects the waterborne diseases to blocking of drains and subsequent flooding during monsoons. “People blame the water bodies for flooding but indiscrim-
also wanted to connect the lakes so that every drop of rainwater is conserved. Because of these connections, some lakes were considered married to each, some were called siblings and others were uncle-nephew lakes.
Over a period of 500 years or so, planners of the city made water bodies inate dumping of garbage is what blocks their neighbourhood drains. Wherever there are gaps in the water distribution network, the contaminated water gets mixed with drinking water,causing diseases,”Bodhankar says. Abid Ali Khan, who conducted a case study for Royal Haskoning dhv, a premier engineering and consultancy organisation of the Netherlands, in association with giz, on improvement of storm water management in Raipur, warns that low-lying areas of the city will get flooded if rainfall exceeds 100 mm in a day.
As most experts, including Bodhankar, Shende and Khan,say the drainage system is directly linked to water bodies, the munici-
It is situated at the highest altitude of the city. Traditionally, rainwater would first fill the lake and the excess water would flow to the other lower lakes. But people have encroached the catchment areas of most lakes Most of the channels are blocked because of the dumping of untreated waste. This, along with encroachment on lakes, leads to urban floods in elevated areas in the direction of descending elevation. Once rainwater or surface water would fill the structure at the highest elevation, it would overflow or spill into the successive structure, leading to conservation of every drop flowing towards the stream or river. pal corporation has to intervene.While rmc needs to recognise the importance of these water bodies,Khan says,drainage has to improve. “The sewage system needs improvement and the catchment area of all lakes should be demarcated so that waste water can be locally treated and diverted to the lakes. Open dumping of waste has to stop,”he adds.
But as with other municipalities, rmc too faces acute staff shortage and the tenures of senior officials, who can perhaps oversee projects to improve sanitation, are too short for long-term work. In such a scenario, the Chhattisgarh government and its elected members have to do more than just say that ponds and lakes are cultural heritage.