Millennium Post

Tax rebate to harvest rainwater

Last month, Allahabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) became one of the first cities in northern India to take concrete steps towards the enforcement of rainwater harvesting in residential structures.

The local governing body introduced promotional surcharges in the house tax as per a provision under Property Tax Rules of Municipal Corporation 2000. 

The rule gives a two per cent rebate in-house tax in the buildings with rainwater harvesting systems. However, in case of non-availability of rainwater harvesting, additional surcharges can be imposed and house tax gets increased.

While corporators allege that the AMC is trying to earn extra money through this taxation, green activists believe this is a positive step as it provides incentives for rainwater harvesting in the city.

The level of groundwater in Allahabad is reducing by 62cm every year. To boost rainwater harvesting, Uttar Pradesh government has proposed several orders in the past. 

In 2001, an order was given to include rainwater harvesting system on plots of around 10,000 square metre. In 2003, the plot size was decreased to 300 square metre. Further, in 2008, over slow implementation, an order was passed making rainwater harvesting mandatory for all old and new government and institutional buildings.

A K Rakesh, Chief Engineer, Jal Nigam Allahabad commented, “Despite all these efforts, the pace of achieving rainwater harvesting is relatively slow and not up to the mark. Under these circumstances, the recent step of increasing promotional charges may help speed-up the adoption of rainwater harvesting principles in the region.”

Impact of incentive
The property tax rebate adds a functional angle to the compliance of rainwater structures. Different cities come up with their incentive plans.

In order to motivate the public, Indore Municipal Corporation (IMC) announced a rebate of six per cent on property tax for those who have implemented rainwater harvesting, “This move increased the adoption of rainwater harvesting by 50 per cent,” added Dilip Singh Chauhan, city engineer, IMC. In Jabalpur as well, the same tax rebate has been offered. In Surat, 50 per cent subsidy of actual amount or Rs 2,000 is given to the citizens to encourage installations. 

The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board has made rainwater harvesting mandatory for every household. The Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage (Amendment) Act (2009) states that every owner within existing houses built on 2,400 square feet and who propose to construct a building on a site area of 1,200 square feet and above should provide for rainwater harvesting structure.

A R Shivakumar, principal investigator of rainwater harvesting and scientist at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore said, “Lack of enforcement of the mandatory rainwater harvesting systems along with the availability of piped water at highly subsidised rate are the key issues for the  poor response for rainwater harvesting.”

“Incentives or rebate will positively help in promotion of rainwater harvesting. Mass involvement will help to gain momentum in implementation of the system. It will ultimately result in higher ground water level, better yield in borewells, less pressure on tanker water supply,” concluded Sivakumar. He further added that Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagare Palike (BBMP) has announced rebate of two per cent, but the same is not implemented yet. 

The situation in Thane is somewhat similar, where the municipal corporation has been offering five per cent rebate to the residents adopting the method. However, the status of implementation of rainwater harvesting in the city is not very clear,  informed an official.

In Gwalior, a six percent rebate has been offered and rainwater harvesting has been made mandatory in the plot area for 1,400 square metres or above. Pavan Singhal, city planner at the Gwalior Municipal Corporation informed that while builders and government organisations abide by the rules, citizens are less involved in the initiative.   

(The author is senior research associate with the water programme at Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi. Views expressed are strictly personal)
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