Bairobha nallah green project can be replicated pan India, says Lt Col Suresh Patil (retd)
The beautification of the Bairobha nallah (canal) stretch in Pune, done by the Green Thumb Foundation, a city-based non governmental organisation (NGO), in collaboration with the Hinduja Foundation and PCB, has brought back water, trees and birds to the area.
Nadeem Inamdar speaks to Lt Col Suresh Patil ( retd ), founder, Green Thumb Foundation who drew a comprehensive plan along with other retired soldiers to beautify the canal stretch. Patil, in the past, has spearheaded a number of country wide eco-storation projects including the internationally acclaimed Khadakwasla dam rejuvenation project. Lt Col Suresh Patil, a war veteran , was critically wounded by enemy shelling during the Indo-Pak Conflict 1971 in Jammu and Kashmir . Since its inception two decades ago, several veterans and ex-servicemen volunteers have been associated with Green Thumb.
What is at the heart of the green Bairobha nallah project for Green Thumb?
The green Bairobha nallah project is about creation of wealth out of waste. We have taken efforts to preserve and conserve the A1 defence land adjoining the Bairobha canal. For this project, a lot of ex- servicemen and various students helped in planting trees. The Pune Cantonment Board (PCB) and Hinduja Foundation extented their support for the project. We have been successful in changing the landscape of the area. Today, the stretch resembles a bio diversity park cum walking plaza which is the new health hub in the army area.
What was the project schedule like?
The work on the stretch began in May 2019. This stretch along the Bairobha canal was filled with dirt and plastic bags. We first used earthmovers to remove all the plastic and rubble, which got the water flowing again. After declogging the canal, workers cleared weeds, mounds of polythene and creepers from the stretch and added a fresh cover of soil. We also did land contouring, filled the ditch with sand and carried out complete landscaping. We have worked day and night to transform this place. There were at least 50 conservation workers on ground who helped generate wealth out of this waste by using the canal silt for gardening purpose. So far, we have planted about 15,000 trees of over 100 varieties.Special focus has been given to preserve the sandalwood and banyan trees which are very old and of heritage value. Besides this, the side wall has been painted by architecture students with social messages related to environmental empowerment. Residents also planted trees under expert guidance.
Is this sustainable at a national level ?
With the green Bairobha project, we have demonstrated that through strong backing from the government and an institution like the army, anything is possible. This project can definitely be taken up at the national level wherein abandoned canals and government lands can be taken up for beautification and environmental conservation. Also, financial assistance from corporates can help as it did for this project . We also encouraged residents to participate in this project with Green Thumb, to ensure sustainability and add value to our lives. In order to replicate this pan India, we need the help of citizens’ in future.