Has Odisha’s Rooftop Rain Water Harvesting Scheme Derailed?

Bhubaneswar: In January 2015, Odisha government unveiled the Rs 100 crore-Rooftop Rain Water Harvesting Scheme (RRWHS) in a bid to conserve water and announced financial assistance to those who want to undertake the same. However, people who opted for the RRWHS now allege that even after running from pillar to post, they are being neglected and are not getting the promised subsidy amount.

A resident of Bhubaneswar, Digambar Satpaty said, “We were told that we would immediately get the subsidy amount for the construction of rainwater harvesting structure on our rooftops. However, even after months, we are yet to get the money. Government schemes are going on like that only, what can be told to anyone.”

On the other hand, several unemployed diploma holders/graduate engineers/geology graduates were reportedly empanelled as roof water harvesting consultants by the Ground Water Survey and Investigation department to create public awareness, provide technical guidance and support for RRHS in private buildings. However, those consultants are now alleging that they are facing public ire.

“There are around 400-500 people from Bhubaneswar only, who had applied for the RRWHS and have already completed the construction work but they are yet to get the subsidy amount. However, we are now facing problems as those people are now approaching us (instead the concerned department) for the subsidy amount as we had encouraged them to adopt the scheme,” said Abhisekh Mohanty, an RRWHS consultant.

Moreover, the State government had earlier said that by spending Rs 100 crore, a total of 16,955 buildings comprising 16,405 private buildings and 550 government buildings would be covered under RRWHS between 2014-15 and 2018-19 fiscal. Surprisingly, the government has been able to spend only Rs 48 crore in five years.

Meanwhile, at some places like Sambalpur and Jharsuguda, the RRWHS seems to have got confined to pen and paper only.

The rainwater harvesting on the rooftops was a welcome initiative of the government but the local administration along with the government officials embezzled the money meant for the scheme, alleged one Surendra Sahu of Jharsuguda.

Responding to the allegations, nodal officer Sukant Prusty said the house owners, who have completed the works will be paid. “The department will take all the required steps to ensure that people get the subsidy amount,” he added.