Rainwater Harvesting: Not Just an Option but A Necessity

Anil Pharande, Chairman – Pharande Spaces

In a land-locked city like Pune, the value of water is inescapable. Factors such as climactic changes happening at a national and global level are causing water levels to fall. Overpopulation has resulted in more and more acquisition and development of land – and, even worse, for landfills, cutting back on water bodies that were once available and accessible.

Deforestation has further compounded the deficiency of water, as this causes regional rain to eventually become unpredictable. Several areas are critically affected by a dearth of usable water – a city like Pune is, actually, a prime example of the happening throughout India.

More and more of the world’s burgeoning populations will be moving to urban areas in the years to come. As a result of accelerated property development in our cities, the greatest requirement for critical resources such as water is focused in urban areas. As a consequence, multistory residential complexes are being constructed at an extremely rapid speed.

The earth’s surface is 70% water; yet, very little of this is actually usable or drinkable by humans. It is very likely that we will shortly reach a stage when the quantity of useable water present on the earth’s surface isn’t sufficient to satisfy all of the requirements of the development occurring to accommodate the growing population.

Rainwater harvesting is the solitary realistic option to counter the growing menace of rapid water depletion – and this real and present option is definitely catching on in our cities. Rainwater harvesting involves accumulating, filtering and storing rainwater to be utilized for assorted industrial and residential purposes.

Rainwater is a clean, free source of potable water. Rainwater harvesting used in residential properties, which involves trapping rainwater from roofs and directing it into underground storage tanks or cisterns, can satisfy 50% of a regular family’s water needs.

The truth is, rainwater harvesting isn’t just a strategy to make maximum use of the natural resource – it also has minimal environmental impact. Naturally, it leads to substantial price savings on recurring water charges in residential buildings. In a city like Pune, a huge number of residential societies are dependent on expensive water tankers which extract ‘hard’ water from borewells – a process which further depletes ground water levels and causes all kinds of associated problems to the environment.

Urban water supply calls for pumping stations in addition to putting up treatment plants and supply conduits. With the rate of increase in urban population, city planning authorities cannot match utilities in the majority of Indian cities. Engineers and geologists are constantly fighting to discover new sources of water.

With borewell shafts going deeper as the hunt for more water continues in cities like Pune, water supply can actually be significantly supplemented by rainwater and decrease the pressure on the usual water supply.

When rainwater is harnessed in a housing complex, it can be utilized for assorted non-drinking functions that call for substantial volumes of water. Because rainwater can complement the traditional water supply system, this means considerably reduced utility bills.

Rainwater harvesting is equally appropriate for large manufacturing units that use up substantial amounts of water. Such industries can reduce the pressure on groundwater by making use of rainwater for all their requirements.

A perfect fallback position

Climate change has caused significant disruptions in the weather patterns in lots of Indian cities, resulting is decreased rainfall. Rainwater can be collected, stored and used during drought seasons to complement the ordinary water supply. In cities like Mumbai and Pune, the dreaded bane of rationing and water shortage is mitigated with rainwater harvesting, which also reduces the dependence on dams and water reservoirs.

When rainwater harvesting systems are used by a sufficient saturation of residential buildings in a city, there is a substantial drop in pressure on drainage systems, thereby reducing the possibility of floods, soil erosion, and surface run-offs. Rainwater harvesting is a perfect solution especially in low-lying regions, which are usually prone to floods due to over-taxed drainage systems.

The use of rainwater harvesting systems allows groundwater levels to recharge, which in turn aids in enhancing urban greenery; in fact, this is actually the sole dependable means of having green places without leeching away from the direly needed water supplies within urban areas.

Simple to set up and use

Rainwater harvesting systems are simple to put up and operate. There is absolutely no requirement for the complicated purifying systems which need to be applied to cleanse groundwater, since rainwater is pure. Rainwater collection systems use modern yet extremely simple technology, and their care simply involves occasional cleaning of pipes and the storage tanks to ensure the rainwater gathered is not contaminated.

Actually, rainwater harvesting can be used by anyone. Installation of gutters is step one for buildings that lack them, together with a filtration system to make certain that any other sort of debris or leaves will not find their way into the storage tanks. Safety precautions include having locking bars or lids to stop the breeding of mosquitoes or other forms of pollution of the stored water. Catchment areas in a city may comprise paved regions for example roads and car parks, where water may be picked for several non-drinking purposes.

Need for more government support

Most of the municipality areas of cities like Pune have a huge number of housing projects which don’t have the required rainwater pits. In quite a few cases, the lack of space and the overall design of the project may not make rainwater harvesting pits feasible at all – but where it is possible, no effort should be spared to create them and put rainwater harvesting systems in place. New apartment projects must, of course, be engineered from the world ‘go’ to incorporate rainwater harvesting systems.

While all such measures have been implemented in the more progressive PCMC (Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation) of Pune, the speed at which the Pune Municipal Corporation is moving on this front leaves a lot to be desired. Rainwater harvesting is a standard feature in PCMC’s large integrated townships.

As rain is becoming noticeably scantier, the government has already begun undertaking measures to encourage residential societies, educational institutions, and similar buildings to optimize water use and exercise better principles of water economy.

The rapid, yet necessary proliferation of paved areas and roads in our cities is preventing the proper percolation of rainwater into the ground, and causing water bottlenecks on the outskirts. Establishing regularly spaced rainwater harvesting pits in urban localities is definitely the way to go, and must be implemented in cities like Pune without further delay. Additionally, the city authorities must put in greater efforts to educate citizens about the benefits and implementation of rainwater harvesting.

About The Author:

Anil Pharande is Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in West Pune. Pharande Promoters & Builders, the flagship company of Pharande Spaces and an ISO 9001-2000 certified company, is a pioneer in the PCMC area offering a diverse range of real estate products catering especially to the 42 sectors of Pradhikaran. The luxury township Puneville at Punavale in West Pune is among the company’s latest premium offerings. Woodsville in Moshi is another highly successful PCMC-based township by Pharande Spaces which is now in its 3rd phase.

How Infrastructure Drives Real Estate Demand

– Anil Pharande, Chairman – Pharande Spaces

All property investors are familiar with the phrase ‘market drivers’, which has become one of the most utilized terms in real estate investment. What exactly are market drivers? They can be explained as advancements within a region which boost the overall worth of the location, and the desirability associated with residing there. It is a well-established fact that the infrastructure of an area is a key criterion for home buyers, and therefore property investors.

Infrastructure has numerous types. For instance, roads are considered key infrastructure, as they enhance the connectivity of the area. There is also civic infrastructure, which involves the availability of public services in the region. In India, the primary aspects covered under civic infrastructure are reliable water and electricity supply, without which an area falls flat as a residential location and therefore as a real estate investment destination.

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Then there is the factor of social infrastructure, which accounts for the liveability of the area. At the most basic level, civic infrastructure will include public transport and shopping outlets, but educational institutions and hospitals are also important. People expect to have colleges, schools and healthcare facilities close to where they live. Therefore, the level of saturation of social infrastructure will play a big role in the overall value of the location as a residential and investment destination.

The global standard for urbanization which is evident in most developed countries is that all or most of infrastructure required to make an area livable and desirable as a real estate destination are set up prior to or opening it up for large-scale real estate development. This is because efforts to put the necessary infrastructure in place retrospectively results in inconvenience to the existing population because of decreased public mobility during construction of such projects.

Retrospective construction of infrastructure projects also pollutes the environment during the actual construction process, and this is nothing but bad news in an area which is already inhabited.

Creating the infrastructure which is required to make a location liveable and also supportive to various economic functions can be compared to creating vast green cover in an area . In both instances, there is a primary requirement of adequate space. Another vital factor for successful infrastructure creation is time. In the case of trees, the root systems must be given adequate time to penetrate deep enough to provide anchorage as well as access to deep-lying groundwater. Similarly, infrastructure must be given enough time to be deployed, become functional and start servicing the area properly. Without space and time, both forestation and infrastructure creation become futile exercises.

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If we take the cases of Pune and the adjoining Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), we see a vast difference in successful infrastructure deployment. In Pune, the PMC has been unsuccessfully trying to provide retrospective infrastructure support to its massively congested and largely dysfunctional city areas.

Almost every new infrastructure project in Pune is hotly contested by local political parties and becomes road blocked by bureaucratic red tape. One of the reasons is that these projects affect already populated areas, which represent vote banks. The result is that most of these projects take ages to be built, and many are eventually shelved altogether.

The advantage that the PCMC has enjoyed is that it follows a proactive rather than reactive approach to infrastructure creation. In other words, massive Greenfield areas are taken up by the town planning authorities for infrastructure creation, and only then  opened up for further development by private builders. This has resulted in extremely viable, plug-and-play residential neighbourhoods and commercial districts which start delivering the goods from day one.

This proactive approach to infrastructure has earned PCMC the distinction of being one of India’s most sought-after destinations to live and work in. PCMC’s superior infrastructure has attracted the highest number of multinational companies and industries to the region, and this has also led to the highest rate of employment creation in PCMC. As a result, the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation has emerged as the most preferred city for home buyers who are looking to live close to where they work – and simultaneously enjoy a superior quality of life.

About The Author:

Anil PharandeAnil Pharande is Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in Western Pune. Pharande Promoters & Builders, the flagship company of Pharande Spaces and an ISO 9001-2000 certified company, is a pioneer in the PCMC area offering a diverse range of real estate products catering especially to the 42 sectors of Pradhikaran. The luxury township Puneville at Punavale in West Pune is among the company’s latest premium offerings. Woodsville in Moshi is another highly successful PCMC-based township by Pharande Spaces which is now in its 3rd phase.

Why Roads Boost Real Estate Growth

Anil-Pharande– Anil Pharande, Chairman – Pharande Spaces

It is no secret that improved road connectivity is very important for real estate growth. Most property brokers will make a big case out of an area’s excellent road network and how this improves the appreciation value of a proposed property. But how exactly does this phenomenon work? What is the real ‘connection’ between better roads and better real estate values?

  • The History Of ‘Road Power’

Infrastructure is the key to growth for real estate – and the cornerstone of infrastructure is roads. The importance of roads to human being is vouchsafed by how long they have been around. The oldest paved road in recorded history was made sometime between 2600-2200 BC in Egypt; but it was the Roman Empire which brought out the fullest potential of roads traversable by wheeled, horse-powered carriages.

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Circa 312 BC, the Roman Empire built stone roads throughout Europe and North Africa to aid its military campaigns. At the height of their power, the Romans had built 78,000 kilometers of roads that led to and from Rome. History is witness to what the Roman Empire achieved by connecting the parts of the world that were important to them to their seat of power.

However, it was only much later that ‘road power’ could begin to be fully exploited. It was, in fact, only in 1768 that the French inventor Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot built the first steam-powered automobile capable of human transportation. Ever since then, roads have emerged as the master key that unlocks all urban potential in the modern world.

  • Fast Forward To Today

It is safe to say that real estate development as we know it is impossible without adequate road networks. In the first place, they are required to transport construction materials and manpower to sites. Thereafter, people need roads to be able to travel to the newly developed locations. However, the basic roads that are initially used to ‘open up’ and area usually fall short of the task of really making it prosper. High volumes of traffic require larger, better-planned roads to accommodate it, and it often emerges that existing distances between locations can be significantly reduced by laying new roads altogether.

In the city of Pune, one recent example of the introduction of a new major road can cut down the distance that needs to be travelled between destinations was the Spine Road in the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC). The launch of this important piece of infrastructure had a direct and very beneficial effect on residents in all the areas it influences. It connects two major highways, provides access focus for various residential, commercial and industrial centres and is the longest stand-alone road in the region. Spine Road has significantly relieved traffic congestion on internal roads – it has six lanes with cycle tracks, service roads and even parking facilities.

  • How Roads Improve Urban Life

Time Saved = Improved Lifestyle: With the shorter distances achieved by well-planned and strategically laid new roads, people can choose to not use their fuel-guzzling cars and travel to and from work by public transport or two wheelers instead. Apart from improving the quality of lives, this also decreases noise and air pollution in residential areas. Improved road connectivity also improves the overall safety of a neighbourhood, because emergency services like law enforcement and fire brigades can reach there faster. Residents also have quicker access to hospitals, which often makes the difference between life and death.

Obviously, infrastructure initiatives like the Spine Road in PCMC are a major advantage to employees working in the area’s numerous manufacturing and service industries. In Indian cities, the amount of time it takes to get to and from one’s workplace literally makes or breaks residential locations. Also, because residents of well-connected localities can reach and return from their workplaces faster, they have more time to spend with their families. The same fundamental works for school-going children, as well.

Considerable Savings On FuelEver-increasing fuel prices were once a concern only to the middle class, but they are today even the more affluent classes are feeling the heat. In India, electric cars that can meet the travel requirements of a normal-sized family are still a distant dream. Like it or not, we continue to depend on fossil fuel-driven vehicles.

A normal middle class family can save quite a lot on its monthly fuel expenses when a new road improves overall connectivity in their locality. Communities which live in areas without good road connectivity often spend between 10-15% of their monthly income on transportation alone. The figure rises proportionately to the number of vehicles the family operates.

The Health ‘Connection’Reduced travel time also equals a lower chance of commuting-related physical ailments and stress levels. When people have to travel over longer distances daily, the time in which they are exposed to traffic pollution and extreme climate increases proportionately. Several serious health problems such as deep vein thrombosis and lung infections have been directly linked to regular, long automobile travel.

By the same coin, road rage and reckless driving also often the direct by-product of traffic congestion caused by insufficient road linkages. Also, improved road connectivity leading to significantly shorter travel distances makes it possible for people to opt for health-positive travel modes such as bicycles.

The Real Estate ‘Connection’For all the above reasons, improved road connectivity has a massive impact on real estate prices of a location. There is always higher demand for homes in well-connected areas, because they are more accessible, safer, healthier and cheaper to live in.

About The Author:

Anil Pharande is Chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in Western Pune. Pharande Promoters & Builders, the flagship company of Pharande Spaces and an ISO 9001-2000 certified company, is a pioneer in the PCMC area offering a diverse range of real estate products catering especially to the 42 sectors of Pradhikaran. The luxury township Puneville at Punavale in West Pune is among the company’s latest premium offerings.