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Storm Water Drains - planning aspects

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Friends, To the best of my knowledge, the storm water drains presently in vogue in Bangalore (and I guess in most other Indian cities) is built on the lines of that existed in Roman cities 2000 years back. 

God gave us water on earth and he also gave us a superb system by which water from earth evaporates to form clouds and when sufficiently condensed, pours down on earth as rain. Ideally, after filling rivers and other water bodies like ponds and lakes etc, it should be ensured that excess rainfall (or storm water as we call it these days) should infiltrate into the Earth  to recharge ground water. God did not plan for us to misuse this precious gift of water by throwing garbage, human excreta and urine etc into it and in the name of habitation, letting it flow with stench and all, to some otther place where we hope it gets mixed with more volume of water (as in lakes) which it is hoped will dilute the stench and remove the floatng garbage to hide from our view!

Storm water drains therefore ought to be such that they help in infiltrating "at the point where it falls" and not be "taken away" to some other place. We tend to treat storm water like a stream of water meant to carry our garbage and every other kind of waste that we so casually throw into open drains! This mindset needs to change. 

Besides the present storm water drains being open for people to misuse, they are impervious (that is water does not soak into mother earth because they are lined with concrete / granite slabs which by nature are totally impervious) and in most cases the water, with all the muck that is thrown in, is going to join some lake or the other. Open drains also means sunlight and therefore heat falling on water causes photosynthesis which in turn again causing algae and hyacinth formation. This adds to the muck that is already being carried by the drain. It is actually poisonous water and no wonder children like young Abhishek die the moment they swallow such mucky water.

This is completely wrong planning. Has anyone travelling anywhere abroad from Sydney to San Fransisco seen any city where open drains carry dirty water to join a lake river or even the ocean? Did you know that not a single drainage ends in the Thames River in London although it flows through the heart of the city? How then do civilised society manage their storm water?

Modern day city planners are designing cities with underground storm water drains which is totally pervious, absorbs all water that falls (with drainage cells and infiltration tanks being placed underground) so that storm water percolates slowly over a period of time. Additionally if catalyst agents are placed in the infiltration tanks, the entropic cycle reverses and clean, treated storm water joins the ground water table effortlessly. These are permanent solutions requiring no maintainance whatsoever. The solutions ar closee to nature, sustainable and therefore extremely cost effective. Covered drains can then be designed as green, pervious pathways (wih flo grid and drainage cells), walking space or just beauty spots.

As I said, it is my sincere hope that someday someone in authority will realise the mistake that is being perpetrated in the name of ignorance and agree to find a different environment friendly solution. Such solutions already exist, but alas Government's hands are tied with the three tender and Lowest Bid concept which I personally feel is the biggest curse on our society! Allow our politicians to find the best solution and have it implemented without the fear of letting some Audit body find that they did not follow the three tender and lowest bid procedure.

More later,

[Moderator's Note: promoted from a comment on this post]


Rithesh's picture

Mr Chari - you couldnt have been more correct

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The design of the storm water drains are completely flawed and unscientific. These concrete drains are killing the very purpose of the storm water drains.

Take the case of Hebbal lake system (which also include Nagavara Lake). Under the Hebbal Valley development project, all storm water drains were redesigned and converted into concrete drains. For the last 2 years (much of the work was completed over the last 2 years), the water levels in both the lakes have increased. Thats the only good thing about it. Every monsoon, the surrounding regions flood easily. Also the water table in the region has been droping drastically. Near my house until a year back a big storm water drain used to flow. It was also redesigned into a concrete drain. May be because of this the water levels have suddenly dropped and many bore wells in the region have gone dry.

Same is the case with the small drains in front of houses. The older ones with stone slabs used to have many gaps which used to ensure seepage of water. This used to help the trees on the roads. Now that the pavements are also made of concrete along with the drains, there is hardly any way for the water to seep in. Eventually, this is going to affect the trees too.

RKCHARI's picture

SWD - Solutions

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Dear Mr. Ananthram,

Thank you for saying the point is well taken but that we need to find a solution under the given circumstances. I am afraid there is none.

As long as we have open drains lined with concrete or granite on both sides and in the base, our objective of keeping it clean allowing only storm water to be "taken" by the drains to join the lake is basically a disaster scheme that cannot be rectified by cosmetic methods.

Household sewage water carrying human waste, is meant to be carried by entirely different sewage pipelines layed underground (for which we pay betterment charges), segragated at the STP point and sewage water then gets treated as grey water which can be directed into lake. Solid part that gets segregated at STP is used as manure.

There is no reason why household human waste should have its outlet connected to the nearest open storm water drain. It is so connected only because BBMP does a shoddy job and does not take the sewage line from the home all the way to the main pipe line going towards STP. 

I hope I have cleared any misconception about the real need and use for storm water drain as being totally different from sewage pipelines.



ushakiran's picture


146 users have liked.

hi chari sir , 

After speaking to u abt concept I am vry muchHappy to hear abt the project. Sir go ahead for presentation we r all wth u . Lets meet all together disscuss abt the project . As soon as possible. Hope Sai will help us out . Yes we will ve the project . Hands off Chari sir


Usha Kiran
RKCHARI's picture

Water & Roads

142 users have liked.

Hi friends,

I presume Ms Usha kiran means "Hats off" and not "Hands Off" ! I would like as many hands as possible to support our concept - not so much for me to prove a point as I want everyone to believe in our ecoligically sustainable and environment friendly approach and in our alternative suggestions. If at the end of the day all our rantings fall on deaf ears of the Government, so be it. But at least we would have convinced our own 'Prajagal' about a new way of looking at problems.

I am somewhat tied up with meetings and some travel outside Bangalore up until 10th July or so. If anyone wants me to meet with them to take this initiative further, could I please request for scheduling any such meeting / get together after 10th July?



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