ISLAMABAD         -            At the time when Prime Minister Imran Khan is pursuing his clean and green Pakistan vision, the city managers have failed to enforce an important building bylaw regarding rainwater harvesting system.

Rainwater harvesting is the process of collection and storage of rainwater from rooftops and land runoff through a system of pipes and tanks in a building and then using it as an alternative or complementary source to main water.  

As per the section 4.1.2 of the Islamabad Residential Sector Zoning (Building Control) Regulations 2005 of CDA, the rainwater harvesting system is mandatory in housing units constructed over a size of 400 square yards and above.

The said clause was included in building bylaws about a decade ago due to water scarcity in the city and it was decided to compel citizens to include rainwater harvesting system in their houses.

This building bylaw was not only for new constructions but it was decided to force citizens who have already constructed their houses to include rain harvesting system. For new houses, it was made mandatory and the approval of building plans have been linked with fulfilment of the said requirement.

However, the reliable sources informed that the aforementioned clause is being neglected by the Building Control Section (BCS). They informed that people who are constructing their houses show rain harvesting system in their building plans in papers but on ground situation is quite different as very limited houses have the said system.

On the other side, there was no serious effort done by BCS to enforce the said bylaw in existing houses and it is evident from the fact that in 2017, a survey regarding rainwater harvesting system in residential units was started but same could not be completed besides passage of more than three years. When contacted, Director Public Relations MazharHussain informed that it is an important requirement and plans are not approved in absence of rain harvesting system.

Islamabad is the first planned city of this country, but unfortunately with the rapid growth of population the water scarcity has become one of the major problems in the city. Currently, it is facing a shortage of 75 million gallons per day (mg/d) as the daily need is 125 mg/d while supply is only 50 mg/d.

The idea to construct rainwater harvesting tanks was introduced by some environmentalists in the era of former CDA chairman, ImtiazInayatElahi who remained successful for including it in the bylaws of the civic agency by making it obligatory for every owner to arrange rain harvesting in their building. However, this bylaw is not being implemented in the capital at all.

An insider of the BCS said that the move could not be materialised as nobody was serious in taking long term steps — neither the authority nor the owners.

He however commented, “Though, it’s not a complete solution, but the re-use of rainwater can help to overcome the issue of water shortage in Islamabad.”

According to a World Bank report, Pakistan is among 17 countries that may face severe water shortage by the year 2025. The per capita water availability has already dropped dramatically over the last 60 years. In this situation, the reuse of waste water would be a viable option to meet the water shortage.

It is need of the hour that the civic body should not confine itself only up to the issuance of notices, but ensure implementation of bylaws by forcing citizens to adopt rainwater harvesting systems in their homes.