After States, NGT Comes After Schools Over Rainwater Harvesting

Around 605 schools in the national capital region may lose recognition over the implementation of rainwater harvesting systems in their premises.

Over 605 private schools in the Delhi NCR may lose their recognition if they do not deposit Rs 5 lakh environmental compensation for failing to install rainwater harvesting system mandated by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), according to Delhi government officials.

In 2017, the green bench had directed all Delhi government and private schools as well as colleges to install rainwater harvesting (RWH)) systems in their premises within two months at their own cost. And so far over 600 schools which failed to install the RWH system are liable to pay environmental compensation of Rs 5 lakh. According to the official data construction has not started in 331 private schools, while rainwater harvesting plants have not been made functional in 274 private schools yet.

“Taking cognisance of the non-compliance of the earlier directions, 605 private schools were found defaulters of either not having rainwater harvesting system installed or having a yet-to-be-made-functional system,” said an official of the Directorate of Education (DoE).

“The National Green Tribunal had asked the Directorate of Education, in February this year, to direct the defaulting schools to deposit the compensation within two weeks. Most of the schools did not comply with the order. We have issued final notices to the schools to deposit the compensation within three days. This shall be treated as the final opportunity, failing which further necessary action for withdrawal of recognition of concerned schools shall be taken without any further opportunity,” the official added.

Earlier, the National Green Tribunal had directed schools and colleges to approach a committee constituted by it for inspection of premises and grant of permission to institutions for operating the system. “If it was not possible to install the rainwater harvesting system, the institution should have approached the committee,” the NGT said.

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The interesting fact that many news reports have missed is that there are 274 schools that were able to follow the order and install RWH systems, are clueless about how to operate and maintain them. Instead of blaming schools, it would be better to question if there is enough support being provided to them in terms of expertise regarding implementing RWH systems and the benefits they would achieve in the long run.

According CSE, Delhi based non-profit, the schools not only need awareness about RWH systems, they need technical expertise from engineers and help from Public works department in maintenance vis a vis varied site type. The schools much like in Delhi are peppered in various types of topography and RWH system design have to be adapted accordingly.

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