Building from the bottom-up is the way forward for residential societies – the building blocks of any smart city.
Basic infrastructure provision for the day-to-day smooth and efficient functioning of an easy lifestyle, water and electricity come next to air and light. But mass exodus of population from rural to urban areas, along with the estimation that urbanisation will be at its peak by 2030, one has to consider a smart utilisation of resources at hand. The constant battle to meet supply over demand is challenged by fast depleting resources. Alternatives alone are not the answer to this, but prudent and even at times, skinflint usage of capital reserves is the need of the hour.
Water shortage, power cuts and the like were unheard of in the cities before but are synonymous to a city life today. So much so that citizens have become numb enough to make up for it by installing inverters or by ordering a water tanker. These temporary solutions are not helping but are infact leading to additional lifestyle cost, in terms of expense and health. A smart solution is just around the corner and some smart societies have already taken the first step. Rain water harvesting, storm water utilisation, water from kitchen and toilets to be directed towards gardens and society cleaning, etc. are few of the baby steps taken towards the larger goal of resource use optimisation . Out of the 900 residential societies in Pimpri-Chinchwad area, Nisarg Darshan Society in Sector 26 of Nigdi-Pradhikaran stands out. The residents do not worry if there is a shortage of water supply. Rain water from the terraces is not allowed to waste. It is collected through pipes in monsoon and saved in underground storage tanks for use. “For four months during the monsoon, we keep our terrace closed. When rainwater is collected, it is channelled through pipes into the underground storage tank,” said Dilip Pandey, secretary of the housing society that has 67 flats in four buildings. The housing society not only uses water stored in underground tanks for household purposes, but also for drinking. “For four months during monsoon, we don’t use PCMC water. That means, we do not incur any water bill which otherwise used to be upwards of 70,000 (for the colony) every six months. Secondly, the PCMC, instead of supplying water to our society, supplies it to other areas in Nigdi-Pradhikaran which otherwise would have been deprived of their quota,” said Pandey. The housing society has been storing rainwater runoff from roofs in underground tanks, as part of water harvesting project, for the last 13 years.
Like these there are several other colonies with aware and conscious citizens who have taken such measures and are reaping bigger benefits with each passing year. It is indeed a trail blazing concept, only to be followed suit by one and all.
People often underestimate the power of cumulative effort. The above example illustrates the larger impact to society that a small residential society can single handedly achieve. Only if the same rule is applied by the remaining rest, water shortage can soon be a thing of the past for tomorrow’s Smart City.