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Rainwater harvesting works well

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The Hindu            15.11.2013

Rainwater harvesting works well

MAIN SOURCE:The well at Tiruchi's Ajantha Hotel that has been revived after harvesting rainwater.— PHOTO: A. MURALITHARAN
MAIN SOURCE:The well at Tiruchi's Ajantha Hotel that has been revived after harvesting rainwater.— PHOTO: A. MURALITHARAN

At a time when attempts are made to revive rainwater harvesting (RWH) structures, a city hotel has been silently reaping the benefits of the concept and saving big on water over the past 10 years.

Ajantha Hotel, situated close to the Central Bus Stand in the city, had successfully revived a massive open well by putting up RWH structures on its premises. The well, which had almost gone dry then, had been meeting a major portion of the water requirements of the 170-room hotel, its restaurant, and a marriage hall over the past decade. The well is full of water now even after last year’s monsoon failure and the absence of heavy rainfall so far this year. The hotel, established in 1966, is one of the oldest in the city.

The hotel had created two RWH structures, — one to harvest water from the roof of its marriage hall building spread over about 6,400 square feet and another for a block of 3,000 square feet. The structures include a filter bed where pebbles, charcoal, and sand had been used to filter the rainwater. Both the structures feed the open well.

“Our management created the structures at a substantial investment about 10 years ago during the previous AIADMK regime when rainwater harvesting was promoted in a big way. The open well on our hotel premises, which was on the verge of being closed, was connected to a couple of RWH structures. Today, the benefits are obvious and a major portion of our water requirement is met from the well,” said T. Sundara Ramanujam, manager of the hotel.

The over 90-foot deep well now has more than 50 feet of water and even during the height of the summer this year, it had up to 25 feet of water. This has contributed to the recharge of the groundwater in the area surrounding the hotel, he said.

The RWH system at the hotel had become so much of a success that it was projected as a model in the city by the corporation and visited by officials, experts, and representatives of voluntary organisations.

The hotel used to buy about 15 tankers (of 12,000 each) of water from outside on an average every day. “Currently, we are using our own tanker lorry for getting just about four loads a day and that too only for emergency purpose or as a stand by. We are saving on buying nearly 12 tankers of water, which used to cost Rs. 350 about 10 years ago. Today, it costs Rs. 850 a tanker. Even if we calculate it at Rs. 750 a tanker, we are saving Rs. 9,000 a day and about Rs. 2.70 lakh a month,” Mr. Ramanujam said.

Buoyed by the success of the initiative, the hotel’s managing partner A. Venugopal plans to improve on and expand the rainwater system.

Hotel Ajantha invested heavily on the system a few years ago and is reaping its benefits now.


City parks to break into song soon

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The Hindu             05.11.2013

City parks to break into song soon

spring in the step, song on the lipsEach of the324 parks in the Corporation limits requires equipmentworth Rs. 50,000 for the facility —Photo: K.V. Srinivasan
spring in the step, song on the lipsEach of the324 parks in the Corporation limits requires equipmentworth Rs. 50,000 for the facility —Photo: K.V. Srinivasan

The Chennai Corporation will commission a music system in the 324 parks in the city in two months.

The civic body has invited bids from private entities to finalise the rates for commissioning of the equipment.

“Each of the parks requires equipment worth Rs. 50,000 for such a facility. The small amount will have a big impact on thousands of visitors to the parks,” said an official of the Chennai Corporation.

Some of the zones have already tried installation of music equipment following requests from morning walkers. But the equipment in some parks has been damaged now. “The new proposal is to commission good quality equipment for music, uniformly, across all parks,” said the official.

“Over 4,000 walkers visit My Ladye’s Park in my ward. The aspiration of each visitor is different. Some people want instrumental music, some want Tamil songs and some do not want music at all. So, the officials should get opinions from park visitors before implementing the new system,” said Kalarimuthu, councillor of ward 58.

The Corporation has decided to have a centralised agency to provide uniform, superior quality equipment in the parks.

“The installation of such equipment in parks with similar amenities will require improved security measures in parks. The issue of maintenance of the facility will also have to be sorted out,” an official said.

The Chennai Corporation has already decided to use the services of multinational companies to tackle maintenance problems plaguing the city’s parks. Currently, their maintenance is carried out by 15 zones of the civic body.

Under the proposed system, all aspects of maintenance will be the responsibility of the MNCs. The equipment will be selected for the system to suit such initiatives to be implemented in future.

Residents’ associations and walkers in each neighbourhood will be permitted to voice their opinion on the changes to the proposed system for music in parks.

The councillors of the 200 wards will play a role in incorporating the changes suggested by residents to the proposed system.


Counsellors soon on corporation payrolls to help students

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The Times of India            26.08.2013

Counsellors soon on corporation payrolls to help students

CHENNAI: Karthika (name changed), a Class 10 student at a corporation school in Kilpauk, was admitted to a hospital last week after she tried to commit suicide. She was allegedly tortured by an uncle.

The girl was then taken in by the headmistress of her school, Vedavalli.

"It took me hours of counselling to make Karthika admit that the uncle was the reason for her attempt to commit suicide," she said.

Karthika's is not an isolated case. Many students resort to extreme steps due to abuse and torture at home. Here arises the need of counselling in schools.

The corporation has decided to recruit 30 counsellors to help students. Each of the 15 zones would get two counsellors each, who would move from school to school. "We are targeting students in adolescent age," said a senior corporation official.

The civic body has not had counsellors on their payroll so far. The only counselling programmes the students had been exposed to were value education CDs and books.

Authorities say regular counsellors would be able to form a bond with students. "We advertised for people involved in counselling or with a background in psychology and sociology," the official said. "These counsellors may find it easier to win students' confidence as they will not be a part of everyday staff but would still be regular visitors." 


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