Deepanwita Gita Niyogi | Jun 28 | 8 min read
Gurugram, Haryana: Lulled by gentle breeze, Krishna Devi spends most part of the day sitting on a charpoy in her house located just opposite the village pond in Hariahera in Gurugram district. Up until a year ago, she would watch the wastewater almost come up to her house in monsoon season from a cesspool, which stood in place of the pond constructed last year under Mission Amrit Sarovar.
It is an idyllic setting now, where ducks waddle in hot summer noon and weary travellers find solace under trees. The 1.39-acre site was developed at a cost of Rs 85.02 lakh, with benches set up and 150 trees planted as part of beautification. A boundary wall was also constructed and the water body was deepened to 4.5 m.
“Outsiders came and worked day and night to create the pond. The children are so excited that they use the swing, installed as part of pond beautification, almost throughout the day,” beams Devi. The pond is a favourite spot of not only people from Hariahera, which has a population of over 2,000, but also the residents of adjoining Alipur.
The pond plays a major role in managing wastewater from households, besides promoting groundwater recharge and good ambience through beautification work. However, its impact on groundwater recharge is not yet proved as Mission Amrit Sarovar began only a year ago.
Notably, Haryana has a total 19,488 ponds, including 18,589 in rural areas and 899 in urban locations. Of them, 1,856 are polluted, with a tendency to overflow in monsoons.
GuruJal has revived 17 ponds in Sohna, Pataudi, Farrukhnagar and Gurugram blocks of Gurugram district. Around 90% of these projects were completed under Mission Amrit Sarovar. In Sohna block, besides Hariahera, a water body in Daula village was revived.
Many ponds in Gurugram district have shrunk in size due to rampant encroachment. Solid waste dumping is also a major issue behind the disappearance of ponds. In some cases, water bodies were sold off illegally and hence cannot be reclaimed. GuruJal works with the government and also involves the community to reverse such conditions.
According to its annual report for 2021-22, 644 water bodies were present under the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority in 1956. By 2018, it came down to 123. Overall, Haryana is one of the most water-stressed states in India due to groundwater exploitation and depletion.
GuruJal has mapped 400 water bodies in Haryana, designed the systems for wastewater treatment plants for 17 of them and reviewed about 80 Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for the government. “When we work with the government, we do surveys, prepare DPRs and give estimates, but we do not do the execution. When we do it alone, we work fully from start to end,” details Tiwari.
“In some places, pond revival is done in convergence with the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act [MGNREGA],” says Gurugram District Development and Panchayat Officer Virendra Singh Sandhu.
He reminds that communities are the ultimate stakeholders, and hence gram panchayats should take care of the ponds once rejuvenated. True to this, the villagers have been cleaning the ponds using nets in both Daula and Hariahera every 15 days.
Launched on April 24 last year, Mission Amrit Sarovar targets to develop and rejuvenate 50,000 ponds across India by August 15 this year. In each district across the country, 75 ponds or amrit sarovars will be constructed or rejuvenated as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, which marks 75 years of Independence.
In Haryana, 7,691 sites have been identified, work has commenced on 3,327 and completed on 1,518. Of the 175 sites identified in Gurugram district, work has commenced on 73 and finished on 46. Of these, many ponds come within the panchayat/urban local body limits.
“Under Mission Amrit Sarovar, things are moving fast. Budget estimates for many ponds have been prepared. The rejuvenation depends on funds but work has started in many places. The Haryana Pond and Waste Water Management Authority also takes care of water bodies. Labour work is carried out under the MGNREGA,” says Dharmender Singh, a Junior Engineer at Sohna Block Office.
Before the restoration of Daula pond (it is 8 km from Hariahera), which is 2.5 m deep and spread over 0.8 acres, children used to use it as a playground. The revenue records, however, showed the presence of a pond there. When the Rs 41-lakh restoration process was launched, a treatment plant was also built to deal with wastewater of the village.
explains Tiwari. Daula village shopkeeper Milap Singh says the site would dry up in summers earlier, but not anymore.
“We aim to recharge groundwater through this initiative. As part of site selection for pond revival, land availability was considered and resolution passed by gram sabha,” Sohna Block Development Officer Hitesh Kumar tells 101Reporters.
Speaking of Amrit Sarovar, he says the minimum requirement is an acre under the mission. In Topra Kalan village in Yamunanagar, a pond measuring nine acres was developed after connecting existing water bodies.
Though measures to revive ponds are progressing in many places, the readied water bodies are facing challenges. Daula resident Vijay Singh Raghav, the husband of sarpanch Bimlesh Devi, mentions the accumulation of plastic waste as a huge problem.
Meanwhile, Tiwari clarifies that GuruJal has handed over the pond to the district administration, and that the Block Development Office will hand it over to the gram panchayat.
Haryana Pond and Waste Water Management Authority Executive Vice-Chairperson Prabhaker Kumar Verma says the priority is to revive polluted and overflowing ponds that are not in use. "We want to restore such ponds and also those of historical importance. There are 36 critically water stressed blocks in Haryana. Solid waste and cow dung mainly pollute the ponds. Nukkad nataks (street theatre) are performed to highlight the importance of water and how people can save them."
Edited by Rekha Pulinnoli
Cover photo - A view of pond in Hariahera village, Sohna Block, Gurugram (Photo - Deepanwita Gita Niyogi, 101Reporters)
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