Rain water harvesting as a flood mitigation measure

Rain water harvesting on the Roads done by Corporation of Chennai - Besant nagar bus terminus (3)

‘There is a society’s role in harvesting and the state’s role in harvesting. So, bothhave to do it for it to be effective’, says Sekhar Raghavan, Director, Rain Centre who has helped Kalakshetra Colony Welfare Association (KCWA)to set up 18 road recharge wells in Besant Nagar and also helps Chennai Corporation in de-silting 16 wells constructed by it in the same area.

“Our recharge wells are 10 feet deep, their (Corporation) wells are 4 feet deep but16 multiplied by 4, we’ve managed to arrange 64 feet of percolation and that is good enough. There is no more stagnation in this area. Harvesting should be looked at as a flood mitigation measure”, he said.

His first step was to sensitize citizens of the need for harvesting. KCWA approached Raghavan in 2000. Continue reading

A village, A Vocation and an imperative

“The water never used to look like this; it used to be much clearer.” Sowmya, whose responsibility is to collect water for the entire village, pointing at the foamy brine water emanating from the hand pump lamenting at the lack of clean water.

The modest village of Nimmeli Kuppam lies along the coastline in Nimmeli district less than 40 kilometres from the hustle and bustle of the city.

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The Cheyyur Conundrum

The bus trip from Thiruvanmiyur bus depot to Kancheepuram district spans a little over 90 minutes. Turning away from polluted Chennai, the East Coast Road (ECR) snakes north into the luxuriant expanses of cooler and greener coastal lands just off the Bay of Bengal. Somewhere in the midst, kissing the fair sands and the rich blue of the sea, rest a cluster of villages.

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How green is green : An architecture of contradiction

Technology had not yet arrived. We did not know what an air-conditioner was. So what did we do to keep ourselves cool during summer? We built courtyards that allowed the breeze to flow in, thicker walls that kept out the heat and ‘jali’ or latticed windows that brought in light without letting in the sun.

We oriented our windows to the wind direction and shut out the harsh southern sun. We created vents that siphon out hot air and draw in cooler air. We had to be as ‘efficient’ as we could as there was no alternative, no methods of mechanically adjusting temperature.

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Earth hour, India’s way

There isn’t any other country that observes the ‘Earth Hour’ as frequently and sincerely as India. But here, the awareness on climate change, which is what the Earth Hour is all about, has a different name : ‘Power cut’ (though the government would be more than happy to refer to it as the former).

Power cuts have become a routine in the Indian way of life, courtesy the country’s power deficit. And the only people who might slightly be happy about it (truth might sound insensitive at times) are the ones who are into the business of selling inverters and generators.

Whether there is an increased awareness of climate change among the people remains unclear, but by setting out to take people off the grid, the Indian government has created awarenesses (whether it was intended or not, we don’t know) of a different kind. That people have become more aware of the of the existing power crisis in the country, and the utility (in some cases, the existence) of back-up power storage devices like inverters and generators stand testimony to it. Continue reading