Revival of Wazirabad bundh wins sustainability award
In a span of three years, with Rs 14 crore sourced from corporate social responsibility funds of various Gurugram-based private companies, the bundh now stands desilted, clean and alive with indigenous vegetation.Updated: May 06, 2019, 00:39 IST
Last month, the project to revive Gurugram’s newest self-sustaining green public space—the once-plastic choked Chakkarpur-Wazirabad bundh where illegal sewage dumping was rampant—won the ‘Best Practices to Improve the Living Environment’ award by the Housing and Urban Development Corporation of India (HUDCO), under the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs.
The bundh, which runs for a length of 5.2km—beginning near Galleria Market and ending in Sector 56, alongside an 8-metre-wide stormwater drain—is one of the 60 colonial-era bundhs that were designed to contain rainwater and recharge underlying groundwater reserves, district hydrologist VS Lambha said, adding that they’re all in a state of neglect now.
“Their quality of vegetation, soil and groundwater recharge capacity has been compromised due to encroachments and dumping of waste. But, the same model of restoration can be applied to the other bundhs as well,” he said.
The privately funded ecological restoration effort was first conceived in 2015 by city-based NGO IAmGurgaon in collaboration with the state forest department, Haryana Shahri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP) and the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG). MD Sinha, previously of the forest department, and a private architecture firm which was hired to redesign the landscape jointly received the award from HUDCO.
“At the time (2015), the Chakkarpur-Wazirabad bundh and the adjoining nullah were completely derelict. Stray dumps of garbage and construction waste were ubiquitous, and the waterway contained mainly dark, polluting, foul-smelling sewage,” IAmGurgaon founder Latika Thukral said, adding that their idea was to revive the waterway, help groundwater recharge, and convert the bundh into a city forest of sorts, to give the citizens of Gurugram a green public space.
In a span of three years, with Rs 14 crore sourced from corporate social responsibility funds of various Gurugram-based private companies, the bundh now stands desilted, clean and alive with indigenous vegetation. “Currently, it attracts both commuters, as well as recreational cyclists, joggers and walkers,” Thukral said.
A three-pronged approach was used to revive the area, starting with restoring the bundh, desilting and cleaning the waterway, and finally planting 30,000 trees and shrubs, belonging to 30 native species, including amaltas, babool, pahadi papdi.
The first phase of bundh restoration utilised more than 6,000 cubic metres of construction and demolition (C&D) waste for laying walking and cycling tacks, according to information provided by IAmGurgaon. This phase also involved laying an efficient drainage and rainwater harvesting system, including recharge chambers, trenches, pits and perforated pipes to channel runoff and replenish the adjacent water body.
“Cleaning the nullah, resulted in over 200 trucks full of silt and plastic waste being recovered from the waterway. Various entry points, from where sewage water was entering the nullah, were also fenced off and barricaded to prevent further pollution,” Thukral said.
In the third phase, native varieties of trees were planted to reforest the area. These continue to receive daily upkeep from IAmGurgaon. Thukral said that they would be responsible for maintaining this vegetation for two years, after which the greenery would be self-sufficient and can grow on its own.
“Plants and trees are watered weekly and the bundh itself is cleaned daily. Talks with RWAs and residents in neighbouring localities are ongoing as part of our Friends of the Bundh initiative which ensure continued maintenance of the area after the two-year period,” Thukral said.
Additionally, for citizens travelling from Chakkarpur to Wazirabad, the cycle tracks and paths built along the bundh offer an alternative mobility route. “The project even provided employment to over 200 people, including contract labourers, gardeners and masons,” Thukral said.
IAmGurgaon and the MCG are currently planning a similar restoration project along the Badhshahpur nullah, which acts as Gurugram’s primary stormwater drain and has also suffered ecological damage in recent years.