A varsity that thrives on the rainwater it saves
Every summer, the city hits a dry patch and the government makes panic calls to different states, seeking help to meet the water demands. This year has been no different either. But imagine an entire university functioning in the city without a government water connection or any tankers and still managing the daily water demands. Surprising, isn’t it? What Jamia Hamdard University in Hamdard Nagar has achieved is not only fascinating but also a rare example of successful rainwater harvesting.
The university has a rainwater harvesting system that recharges underground aquifers every year. It’s the only water source for the staff and students in the 100-acre campus. And they have managed it quite well without any help. “We don’t let even a drop of rainwater go waste. The resource has been serving us for the last 10 years,” says professor Javed Ahmed, head of the botany department.
All the water collected from rooftops moves through pipes and is routed to wells located near each building. It then passes through coir filters so that unwanted solids are left behind. There are seven wells in the campus with a capacity of about 50,000 litres each. Even during a weak monsoon, at least two lakh litres of rainwater is collected.
An old drain-like structure connects the Jahanpanah city forest to the campus wells. All the rainwater from the forest flows through the drain on a slope and falls into these wells, adding to the water already stored. “The rainwater from the Jahanpanah forest is another great resource. Engineers who developed the rainwater system had the foresight to make these arrangements to maximize water collection,” added Javed.
But water collection is not all. The varsity has been reusing waste water to maintain the demand-supply balance. . “Wastage is criminal. When the city is facing such an acute water shortage, reuse of water is important,” said Javed.
However, there have been times when the administration has had to rely on tankers. “Sustaining with rainwater is not always possible. Bore wells may go dry once in a while. And it’s not right to over-exploit them. So at times, we have had to call for DJB water tankers,” says Muzaffar Hassan Shamsi of the engineering team at the university.
The university had applied for a DJB connection about five years ago. “They asked us to deposit around Rs two crore for the connection. Our vice-chancellor had requested for a reduction in the fee but the connection is still pending,” added professor Javed.