Community Participation is Pond Man’s Mantra
We get you the story of Ramveer Tanvar who was recently mentioned in the Prime Minister’s ‘Mann ki Baat’ program for his pond rejuvenation efforts! Hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Ramveer Tanwar is a young environmentalist and an engineer by profession, who has brought forth some interesting ideas on water conservation.As a school student in Greater Noida, he was fascinated by natural ponds and lakes in his immediate surroundings.
While growing up, he realized that ponds are dying and witnessed the increasing water pollution and falling groundwater levels. The traditional water sources were polluted to the extent that it was difficult to distinguish lakes from sewage drains. The remaining water resources were encroached on for building roads and houses.
A sea effort of cleaning ponds
Tanwar started the pond cleanliness campaign in his native village Dadha in Greater Noida. To do this, he engaged and mobilized community members in the village to join the campaign to clean ponds. Increased community participation in decision-making ensured that solid waste was not dumped into any nearby water resources. A pit with wooden mesh was constructed to collect the household wastes from the village. Grass patches, serving as a second layer, ensured that no additional waste material flowed into the clean water bodies. People from the village volunteered to clean the pit, wooden mesh, and grass patches every week. The floor of the ponds is generally covered with a layer of micro-waste material and requires a specific way to clean it. Hence, the fisher folks based in the village were encouraged to pursue aquaculture activities where they cultivated more than 10,000 slime fishes. Slime fish eat minute and other micro waste materials and ensure that the process of cleaning the lakes and ponds is completed. Moreover, these fishes are then sold in the market. The money obtained from the sale of slime fishes becomes an alternate source of income for the fishermen and is further used to invest in aquaculture, thus maintaining ecosystem integrity.
Debate, participate @ Jal Chaupal
Since the beginning of Ramveer Tanwar’s pond restoration campaign, ‘Jal Chaupal’ has become a platform for approaching villages on the issue of pond cleanliness and garbage disposal. Through Jal Chaupal, villagers gather and specifically raise concerns on water conservation, strategies and future plans, etc. in the form of a village panchayat. The extensive community discussion and feedback enhance community participation which ensures the cleanliness of natural water bodies. After Jal Chaupals was successfully established, the government of Uttar Pradesh recognized the efforts of Ramveer and appointed him as the district coordinator of Gautama Budhha Nagar for the ‘Bhujal Sena’ or ‘Groundwater army’ initiative.
Ramveer Tanwar’s efforts on pond rejuvenation have brought over a dozen lakes back to life from the brink of disappearance. He is especially known for his significant contribution to restoring Gautam Buddh Nagar’s (Noida) Kulipara Talab, Aajampur Talab and Greater Noida’s Shaheed Sarovar. His next water conservation project is based in Kanpur where he aims to restore traditional water sources. While encouraging the youth to participate in community-based action, Tanwar suggests focusing on smaller water bodies.