How This Simple Initiative Can Protect Villages From Severe Droughts In India

Posted by Ecoarun in Environment
April 8, 2017

Rapidly rising temperatures and depleting water sources are affecting all life forms. Weather conditions have changed in a matter of just ten days with the temperature rising to as high as 43 degrees in some parts of the country. This is just the beginning of a long and dry summer when everybody starts facing the water crisis. Climate change is a reality in India like nowhere else in the world. With failing monsoons and extreme weather conditions becoming a routine, it is the time we adapt to the changing conditions.

Our collective efforts across the country should primarily be focussed on reviving our freshwater habitats. This includes neighbourhood ponds, community lakes and our rivers. In a democracy, we need to get the government to function and deliver, at the same time it is also imperative that we participate. Collective governance will ensure a better quality of life for us all. The community-based conservation efforts in reviving our freshwater habitats are the need of the hour.

The Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI) is a voluntary conservation group focusing on real time and result-oriented conservation efforts. The EFI is initiating restoration of 50 rural ponds across the country before the onset of Southwest and Northeast monsoons this year. The effort aims to use the dry period effectively to deepen the abandoned rural ponds which are critical water recharge structures.

Through this effort, rural ponds are to be adopted, cleaned and restored before the rains. If cleaned, deepened and restored before the onset of the monsoons our lakes or ponds will become significant storage facilities and also enable the biodiversity to thrive.

The EFI has launched the project – D-50 – working on the restoration of 50 rural ponds across six states in the country. The project started in early February-2017 and is set to be completed by November 30, 2017. The effort aims to revive water habitats and to maintain them as biodiversity hotspots.

The community-based conservation model focuses on involving the general public in environment conservation. A large number of small ponds which once were water recharge structures are today being converted into dumping grounds and are later encroached upon. This leads to not just depletion but also contamination of groundwater sources. The poor water management has led to water scarcity and seasonal flooding. To ensure enhanced water management, EFI has availed permission from the district administrations in the respective states to voluntarily clean and restore small water bodies.

Pond restoration involves the following stages:

  • Clean up of physical garbage from the lake
  • Removal of invasive weeds
  • Desilting the pond to deepen and increase water holding area
  • Establishing a Box Pit for Rain Water Harvesting
  • Raising the bunds of the pond to prevent future encroachment and proper storage of water
  • Plantation of trees of native species on the bund to ensure increased green cover

Advantages of a clean and restored pond include:

  • Temperature regulation
  • Ground water percolation
  • Prevention of waterborne diseases
  • Localised climate change combat

Ponds where work is currently underway in Phase-1:

  • Three ponds in Uttiramerur near Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu
  • One pond in Ambasamudram near Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu
  • Three ponds in the Sriperumbudur Union near Chennai, Tamil Nadu
  • One lake in Shivamogga, Karnataka

The remaining 40 ponds would be revived in three more phases. The ponds are in the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Gujarat. Nature enthusiasts from all walks of life are invited to strengthen this effort in reviving our rural water bodies. Time and effort are the only investment sought towards securing our future.

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Photographs provided by the author

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