By Pawan Kaswan and Navneet Narwal
Government Senior Secondary School at Kherla village, Gurugram district, Haryana, lies at the foot of Aravalli Hills and has a lush green campus of 4 acres. It has 374 students, and girls outnumber the boys (girls/225 and boys/149), and twenty-one staff members. Students enjoy playing football, cricket, and other games during their lunch hour, sports period, and in the evenings. However, during the entire rainy season, the children have dull faces because the school grounds are under two to three feet of water. This has always been the case since the level of the school campus is three to four feet below the adjacent roads. Every year, from July to September, a single heavy rainfall completely fills the school grounds, and the water stands for twenty to thirty days. The students and staff of the school face multiple problems during this period that interrupt their routine practice of games and other purposes such as prayers, use of toilets, and other activities. The stagnant water on the school grounds leads to the presence of many insects, causing vector-borne diseases among students and in nearby households.
But this year (2021), the students and staff have smiles on their faces because the water from the ground has vanished within two days. This happened due to the construction of a recharge well supported by Rio Tinto India Pvt Ltd, and implemented by S M Sehgal Foundation. This initiative started when S M Sehgal Foundation team members visited the Kherla village in early 2021, for the implementation of the development of a pond. During this time, community members and school administration raised the issue of waterlogging in the school campus and requested help.
S M Sehgal Foundation and Rio Tinto came up with a low-cost, environment-friendly solution—a recharge well, which would clear up the waterlogging of the school campus as well as improve ground water levels through recharge. Addressing the scarcity of sweet water, the rainwater infiltrates through the recharge well into the ground and helps recharge 1.5 million1 water/year. Thus two solutions are handled simultaneously through the recharge well. To sustain and maintain this intervention, the S M Sehgal Foundation team constituted a Village Development Committee of fifteen members, including community members, school staff, and School Management Committee members. INR 20,000 was deposited by the community as a maintenance fund for the recharge well.
“Earlier, water in the playground filled and stood for ten to fifteen days; but this time, it has been recharged into the ground through a recharge well within two days. Now we are using the grounds for playing purposes without any waterlogging problem.” —Nishant, 11th Class student.
“Sehgal Foundation had done a great job in partnership with Rio Tinto. In our area, the water table is gradually going down; it will help in increasing it. Now the playground is also available in rainy seasons for the students and village youth for their regular practices.” —Raju (Sports coach, Kherla)
1 Runoff coefficient for playgrounds = 0.2–0.3 and roof catchments = 0.8–0.9
Rainwater harvesting capacity through playground = 9839*0.25*573.70=14,11,158 liters
By considering evaporation and direct infiltration losses of 10%, final recharge potential through playground = 14,11,158–14,11,158*0.10 = 12,70,042 liters
Rainwater harvesting capacity through roof area = 463*0.90*573.70=2,39,061 liters.
Total annual recharging potential of recharge well = 1.50 million liters. An annual average rainfall of 573.70 mm considered in the Gurugram district of Haryana as per CGWB.
This is a small intervention that may be followed across the region, and it will be helpful in increasing the groundwater.
(Pawan is assistant program lead, and Navneet is associate lead, Transform Lives program at S M Sehgal Foundation)