Jorhat is one of the important cities and also a district located in Upper Assam. In the district and nearby other districts’ pristine beauty can be enjoyed also many tea gardens can be seen.  

To preserve rainwater recently an initiative has been taken jointly by District Administration and Public Health Engineering Department, Jorhat. Idea is to recharge the ever-depleting groundwater in the district; through rainwater harvesting.

It is pertinent to mention that the Jorhat district in Assam has been facing rapid urbanization and subsequent depletion of groundwater over the years. The depletion level is clearly observed from static water levels in borewells. On the other hand,  it is observed that there is a depletion of groundwater table from 20 feet to 40 feet over the decade. A survey by the Public Health Engineering Department, Jorhat Division revealed that a large number of existing borewells and water supply projects in the district headquarters have become defunct over the years due to this alarming rate of groundwater depletion. The situation has also led to an increase in the number of failed borewells for drinking water purposes.

The Deputy Commissioner of the district (Collector in many other places of India called) Ashok Kumar Barman decided to undertake groundwater recharging for a sustainable water flow. In view of this, he started the “Catch the Rain” campaign, a unique initiative with the combined effort of individuals of the district, government departments, and educational institutions. The specific initiatives inter alia include the identification of dead wells in and around Jorhat Town. It may be mentioned here that the study of the old borewell inside the Urban Water supply at Nehru Park, Jorhat revealed the fact that there is significant depletion of water level from 16 feet to 37 feet as a sequel to the existing borewell was defunct. The PHE department along with the financial support of local businessmen took steps to develop the borewell by covering its vicinity with gravel and coarse sand and provision for drainage from surrounding areas to the borewell. And thus water table had gone up.

Further, the borewell in the old Civil Hospital campus, Jorhat revealed the fact that depletion of water levels from 20 feet to 40 feet. Initiatives were taken to collect rooftop water from the buildings, via rainwater ducts and then the water to the borewell under the leadership of the Executive Engineer, Jorhat. He had also taken this unique initiative to make provision for rainwater harvesting in all old and ongoing water supply projects of the district.

Many educational institutions have also undertaken initiatives to convert their campus for rainwater harvesting from rooftops, and also other measures for recharging the groundwater table. The Jorhat Kendriya Mahavidyalaya played a pioneering role by setting up rooftop rainwater harvesting and developing of wetlands inside the campus for groundwater recharging. With all these measures Jorhat district in general and Jorhat town, in particular, have benefitted as the water table has gone up. Such initiatives may be followed in other districts of the country.

(The author expresses his gratitude to Sri Ashok Barman, Deputy Commissioner of Jorhat for providing necessary information to write the article)  

Dr Shankar Chatterjee is a retired Prof & Head (CPME), NIRD& PR, Hyderabad, India.