When you cross the busiest road near Venkojipalem, you can hardly miss the peaceful colony on the other side, with flourishing verdant trees and roads spick and span. Even during peak summer when people in other localities spend most of their morning hours waiting excruciatingly to fill a pot of water at public taps and tankers, residents of the colony happily go for a walk without any worries weighing down on their minds.
Jagannadharaju Nagar Colony in the city now has become an inspiration to many colonies in implementing rainwater harvesting techniques to save water. JR Nagar Colony came into existence in 1993 with around 3-4 houses and JR Nagar Residents Welfare Association (RWA) was formed soon after. The colony, comprising 20 apartments and 50 individual houses, has a population of around 1500 residents.
Some senior citizens decided to do something after realizing with consternation how their colony was blighted by unhygienic conditions. Anti-social elements and reckless driving by some also added to their worry. Situated in a low-lying area, whenever it rained, JR Nagar Colony was inundated and rainwater on roads remained stagnant for days.
No water problem in this Vizag colony
This made the members of the JR Nagar RWA sit up and devise ways to save rainwater. When Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation made it mandatory for residents to build rainwater harvesting (RWH) pits on their premises in 2000, the colony association received a big boost to their idea.
Soon, they had two RWH pits built. Now, the colony’s 70 percent of apartments have 26 RWH pits saving rainwater from terraces of buildings and roads. Apart from these, the association has also built eight rainwater harvesting pits alongside colony roads. As a result, in spite of the water crisis and groundwater plunging to a depth of 200 feet elsewhere in the city, this colony stands out as water is available at a depth of 50 feet.
Speaking to Hello Vizag KSR Murthy, President of JR Nagar RWA said that “Considering the looming water crisis in the city and burgeoning apartments, we decided to have RWH pits built-in every apartment to conserve rainwater. We have connected terraces and pits near the borewell with a pipe so that rainwater flows into the ground and keeps the borewell well charged.”
Some of the RWH pits alongside colony roads have been built with support from the civic body. “We have never bought a single bucket of water in the last 25 years. We save a lot of rainwater through the eight RWH pits, which are five feet deep,” Murthy explained. “Every apartment has adopted an innovative idea to save water. For instance, we have converted an unused sump into a water harvesting pit. The terrace pipes are directly linked to the sump to tap rainwater. Similarly, another apartment has converted an abandoned well into a rainwater harvesting pit,” said a resident of the colony.
Inspired by the success, the colony association is planning to persuade the residents of the apartments, where there are no RWH pits, to initiate steps to divert rainwater from terraces to recharge groundwater. According to Murthy, it costs Rs 7,000 to build each rainwater harvesting pit. Some resident associations in Gajuwaka, Akkayapalemare, and other areas are now turning to JR Nagar Colony to save rainwater.
Award for colony
J R Nagar Colony received an award for the third-best RWA in the country from the Union Ministry of Water Resources for 2018-19. The award, including Rs 1 lakh cash prize, was given to the colony association by the Minister of State for Water Sources Arjun Ram Meghwal.
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