Groundwater · Urban Rivers · Urban Water Bodies · Urban Water Sector

A Spring in a City: Struggle to save a tiny spring is a touchstone of our priorities

Shailendra Patel, diminutive and fast-paced, was leading me through a maze of barbed wires, construction debris and iron fences. Pigs and dogs looked up at us with surprise. This was a treasure hunt. With us was Tushar Sarode from Jeevit Nadi. After sliding down a precarious mound of construction debris, the treasure shimmered before us. In the middle of a chaotic Pune suburb, surrounded by a garbage dump, an urban drain and mountains of concrete emerged a sparkling, babbling little spring. It was this spring that Shailendra Patel has been protecting for the past 5 years. If it were not for him, this pool with darting fish and water sliders would be buried under a luxury apartment or a road.

Continue reading “A Spring in a City: Struggle to save a tiny spring is a touchstone of our priorities”
Bridges · Dams · Urban Rivers

Bridges of Pune and the People who Stop and See

Several bridges, old and new crisscross over the rivers Mula and Mutha in Pune. Some of them are old and stately like the Lakdi Pul built over 250 years ago or the beautiful Shivaji Pul, while there are low ones like the Baba Bhide Bridge, which routinely gets submerged in the monsoons.

I try to walk across these bridges on most evenings.

Continue reading “Bridges of Pune and the People who Stop and See”
Urban Rivers

South India Urban Rivers Overview 2020

Urban rivers provide a lot of services, but the urban areas are inviting major trouble by destroying them through dumping of solid and liquid waste, encroachments, river front developments, unsustainable mining among others. The urban areas also operate in almost total policy vacuum and none of the cities under smart city programs are dealing with Urban rivers with any smartness.

This overview includes some key developments about Urban Rivers in 2020 from the South Indian states of Karnataka (Vrishabhavati in Bengaluru; Swarna-Netravati in Udupi), Tamil Nadu (Adyar, Buckingham Canal and Cooum rivers in Chennai; Kiruthumal in Madurai; Noyyal in Tiruppur; Bhavani in Coimbatore; Palar in Vellore; Vasishta in Salem), Telangana (Musi in Hyderabad), Andhra Pradesh (Tungabhadra in Kurnool), Kerala (Periyar, Kadambrayar & Konthuruthy in Kochi; Kodoor in Kottayam) and Puducherry (Sankarabarani).

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River Pollution · Urban Rivers

“River Rejuvenation” in Indore – Mendacity Displacing Common-sense

Guest Article by Rahul Banerjee

A laudatory article appeared a few months ago (April 2020) about how an IAS officer had cleaned up a 2 km stretch of the dirty Saraswati River (tributary of river Kahn or Khan) in Indore and it was brought to my notice recently[i]. The article claimed that this 2 km of stretch of River has been made “100% sewage free” “by treating inflow from 28 sewage lines through a fully functional Sewage Treatment Plant (STP)”.

Continue reading ““River Rejuvenation” in Indore – Mendacity Displacing Common-sense”
Floods · Urban Rivers

Missing roadmap to solve Urban Floods Puzzle

There can be no dispute over the fact that the frequency, intensity and spread (new cities getting affected) of urban floods is increasing in India. The reasons are mostly known: increasing and mostly unplanned urbanisation, rural-urban migration, encroachments of water bodies, concretization of flood plains and other lands, decreasing capacity to hold, store, recharge and drain the rainwater, increasing rainfall intensities with changing climate, wrong operation of big dams and deteriorating governance.

Continue reading “Missing roadmap to solve Urban Floods Puzzle”
Maharashtra · Photoblog · River Pollution · Urban Rivers

Photo Story:Worm Collectors of a Polluted River

For the past few years, I walk along the bridges and riverbanks of Pune, taking pictures of the unique happenings here. I have made several silent friends who sit at the riverbanks grazing their cattle, or recline on the bridges, looking at the river. As a photographer, their body language and stories have fascinated me, as has the river.

Continue reading “Photo Story:Worm Collectors of a Polluted River”
Delhi · Rivers · Urban Rivers

NAJAFGARH JHEEL – SAGA OF A FORGOTTEN RIVER

Guest Article by: Ritu Rao

A short drive on the Golf Course Road in Dwarka followed by a turn towards Goyla Dairy and subsequently a sharp left just short of Goyla Dairy brings us to the famous Inspection Road /Embankment Road. Flanked by Najafgarh Drain on one side and the arable lands of Delhi on the other, the embankment road was constructed after the 1964 floods of Delhi. The thick mud embankments are covered with trees and shrubs which provide the much-needed habitat for the local flora and fauna to thrive. This thicket starts clearing off after Jhatikara crossing (say after about a half an hour drive on this road) and the Najafgarh drain suddenly transforms into a vast expanse of water known as the Najafgarh jheel. This spectacular sight continues for a good 5-6 kms before it once again narrows down into a stream. The road meets the now extinct Sahibi Nadi and Outfall from Drain No.8 at Dhansa, 5 km upstream of the jheel. The Sahibi Nadi which originates in Jaipur district and drains parts of Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi, now has diminished flow and disappears in the arid soil near Dharuhera after the Masani Barrage in Haryana. Once fed by the Sahibi nadi and storm water runoff from the surrounding areas, the Najafgarh jheel is now fed primarily by the waste water from the Badshahpur Drain and the Outfall Drain No.8 and the rain water in monsoons.

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Dams · Environment · Maharashtra · Photoblog · River Front Development · Rivers and Culture · Urban Rivers · Urban Water Sector

Of Peace and Pollution: Urban Rivers as Public Spaces

In the ongoing Covid crisis, accessible green, open spaces are a dream for many city dwellers. And yet, there is burgeoning work on the profound positive impacts of urban green spaces on the physiological and psychological health of city dwellers.

Despite being polluted, dammed, encroached and thwarted, rivers continue to be free and open public places. Today more than ever, rivers, riverbanks, floodplains and bridges are an invaluable resource for any Indian City. This momentous service is ignored in our riverfront development projects, metro and road plans and city development plans which encroach upon rivers. Continue reading “Of Peace and Pollution: Urban Rivers as Public Spaces”

River Front Development · Urban Rivers

Pune Riverfront Development Project: Encroachment in the name of Rejuvenation?

Guest Blog by: Amruta Pradhan

Background Three rivers (among some others) with a total length of 44km traverse through Pune city. Mula river flows a distance of 22.2 km, Mutha River 10.4 km and Mula-Mutha River 11.8 km. Plight of these rivers is well known. They have been featured in the list of 300 most polluted rivers of India. Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC), Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Maharashtra Water Resources Department (WRD) etc. have pulled number of controversies over river pollution, illegal construction of roads and townships through river bed and most recently Pune Metro being proposed through the river bed. Making a case for ‘rejuvenation’ of the ‘neglected rivers’, PMC has now proposed Pune Riverfront Development Project (PRDP).[1] The project has been designed by the same HCP Design Planning & Management Pvt. Ltd (HCP) led by Ar. Bimal Patel from Ahmedabad who conceived and implemented Sabarmati Riverfront Development Project (SRFDP).

In September 2014 SANDRP in its article “Riverfront Development in India: Cosmetic make up on deep wounds” had raised serious issues regarding several riverfront development projects sprouting across India. Following the footsteps of SRFDP these projects treat rivers as extension of urban spaces and are more about encroachment of floodplains and river beds for real estate than restoration. Pune’s Mula-Mutha Riverfront Project being one among them, maintains the same focus. The project also shows several signs of an ill planned project which may exacerbate the risk of flooding and may take a severe toll on water quality and river health. This article questions some underlying assumptions upon which the project has been designed. Draft Master Plan (DMP) of the project prepared by HCP has been referred as a base document. The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of the project is of a poor quality and devoid of even basic information about the project. Thus was not referred for details. Continue reading “Pune Riverfront Development Project: Encroachment in the name of Rejuvenation?”

Urban Rivers · Yamuna River

Abuse of Remaining Yamuna River Floodplain in Delhi Continues

The stretch of Yamuna River & its floodplain lying between Palla and Wazirabad Barrage in Delhi is still in reasonably good state. Though bisected by an embankment, the floodplain is free of too many recent major encroachments. The River keeps meandering between physical boundaries of Delhi and Gaziabad district of Uttar Pradesh on the other side. The average width of floodplain from embankment to embankment is 2 kilometres. The width of active river current varies from 200-300 metres.

Most parts of the floodplain on both sides of this embankment are under agriculture. The crops grown here includes paddy, vegetables and floriculture as cash crops apart from wheat, traditional riverbed crops of melons, cucumber, tomato and bottle guards etc. Use of chemicals is also growing. There is not much information available about the impact of chemical farming on floodplain and river eco system.

Continue reading “Abuse of Remaining Yamuna River Floodplain in Delhi Continues”