The Pond and the People

The Aiyyan Kulam pond is located in Oragadam which is around 5 km from Ambattur Industrial Estate. The pond is nearly an acre in size and had once served as the supplier of water for the locality. But, due to “development”, the pond ended up being filled with sewage as several inlets flowed directly into it, making its water unfit for drinking and for other life forms to thrive. This pond was in a dire need of a revival. We must understand that such a waterbody plays a crucial role in the environment as they are for all living beings, and not just humans. E.F.I, along with support from the local community in Oragadam had restored this pond to bring it back to its original form. Before the restoration, the Aiyyan Kulam had very little depth to it. Upon restoration, the pond was deepened to 12 feet under the ground level and today has a capacity of nearly 1.2 million liters of water!

Before Restoration
After Restoration

To inaugurate the Aiyyan Kulam to the people, Environmentalist Foundation of India on February 16th had hosted several people to a community engagement activity involving the inaugural of the pond, followed by a tree sapling plantation at the pond.

The event began with an orientation to the students of Ebenezer Marcus Matric HSS, by explaining them the importance of such a pond in an area and why its necessary for us to restore and protect water bodies in our surroundings. During the orientation, a 2-minute silence was done to pay tribute to the soldiers of Pulwama. After the orientation, excitement had filled the air as everyone was motivated to volunteer for the environment and make a change. All hands were on deck as everybody grouped up into teams and spread across the pond’s boundaries to start the plantation. A total of 40 native tree saplings were planted on the ponds bund to strengthen its bunds. On seeing this, several local residents joined the gang for the plantation and volunteered happily knowing that there’s a hope and future for the pond.

Prior to the event, several people in the same area did not know that such a pond had existed in their locality. But at the end of the day, people went back home understanding the true importance to the pond in their neighborhood and why it was necessary to protect it. They now had a new wholehearted interest to protect the pond that belonged to “them”. To make a change, we must first raise awareness about the environment we live in and sensitize the people about the current scenario. This helps them realize the importance of conservation and its effect on future generations.

Volunteer for India & her environment with E.F.I

-Jai Hind-

Power of the People for the Pond

On February 2nd, all the people from the Gerugambakkam Community had come together to celebrate the World Wetlands Day but with a special twist to it. Gerugambakkam is a suburb located in the southwestern part of Chennai falling under Kanchipuram District. The Gerugambakkam Pond located in the heart of the suburb was once considered and treated as a common dumping ground, turning the pond into a cesspool, allowing no life forms to thrive in it. With sewage inflow, construction debris and a huge amount of non-biodegradable materials (or things that simply do not belong to the pond), this pond was in a dire need of a magical revival to bring it back to its original form. Along with the support of the local residents of Gerugambakkam, and volunteers from the Environmentalist Foundation of India (E.F.I) this waterbody witnessed the change which it had desperately needed. E.F.I had hosted several activities at the Gerugambakkam Pond, which included a series of cleanups followed by the plantation of native herbs along the bunds of the pond and by the end of May 2018, the pond had its sewage inlets plugged, deepened, desilted and fenced. This was later followed by 7 more cleanups at the pond as not all the sewage inlets to the pond were plugged, allowing invasive weeds and plants to grow in the pond. To engage the people and get them excited about the pond near them, something huge and motivating had to be done to get everybody to talk about the environment around them. We must understand that the environment we live in is all for us and ‘us’ refers to all life forms.

To mark the celebration of World Wetlands Day, E.F.I organized a series of traditional and cultural activities at Gerugambakkam. Activities such as a Rangoli competition, a Kabaddi competition, an oratorical competition and also a show of  E.F.I’s Street Play themed, “Madras Nalla Madras” were held, to which people could not resist participating in. The community took part in all activities and truly had the time of their lives as they seemed to enjoy all of it to the fullest! The activities kickstarted at 10 AM with several people starting to pour into competing against one another as they had their eyes set on the prize; A free trip to visit the restored waterbodies by E.F.I in Chennai for a day.

Kolam/Rangoli Competition

As laughter and fun filled the air of Gerugambakkam, the people had seemed to understand the importance of the pond in their neighborhood. The “Special twist” to all the activities was that all of these activities had a connection to the pond! In the Rangoli competition, all the rangolis had a message to the environment or some meaningful information about the pond.

The Kabaddi Competition

In the game of Kabaddi, all the participants had to say “Kulam, Kulam”(translates to Pond in Tamil), instead of the traditional “Kabaddi, Kabaddi” chant while playing. The oratorical competition had all its topics related to the recently implemented plastic ban in Tamil Nadu.

E.F.I’s Street Play – “Madras Nalla Madras”

This way, the people learned more about the pond in their neighborhood and had a new profound interest to protect “their” pond. Everybody left to their homes that day, with an urge to make a change in their community and to restore their pond back to its natural form! At the end of the day, to bring about a change, we must involve the people and sensitize them about the reality of the situation around them. This makes them realize the importance of conservation and its consequences for the future.

Volunteer for India & her Environment with E.F.I

-Jai Hind-

Karimadom Colony Pond: A New Beginning

The Karimadom Colony Pond

The Karimadom Colony Pond is located close to Attakkulangara-Killippalam Bypass Road in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala. With an area of 1.6 acres, it is a small waterbody. It is the only pond in central Trivandrum which is not attached to a temple.

This pond was earlier used for domestic purposes until the rapid urbanisation in the aftermath of Liberalisation. It was then repurposed to store and channel untreated sewage from the city to the sewage treatment plant at Muttathara near the airport.

The fact that the area is full of poorly-constructed informal dwellings has led the government to build houses for the local community to live in. The high-density of houses around this pond and the busy Chalai market to its north make the pond a perfect target for garbage dumping. So, a lot of waste can be found around the pond and even till this day, it is difficult to estimate the exact depth of the pond because the pond-bed is covered with waste.

The waste of Karimadom Colony Pond

In the Karimadom Colony plan, the government is planning to build houses, for the 72 homeless families hailing from the colony in the first phase of works under the Shelter for Shelterless scheme of National Urban Livelihood Mission. By being provided these units, the families are being given security that they did not have before the project. While the land is still under the Trivandrum Municipal Corporation, the families will be given their flats. They are more likely to invest in the upkeep of the units since they feel a sense of ownership towards the property which is protected from flooding.

The green cover of invasive species

Beside this, the pond is fully covered by a thick green layer of invasive species. Animals (apart from the domesticated cattle and goats) are a rare sight due to the unattractive features of the pond and the limitation of undisturbed space to breed.Birds find no food because the eutrophication of the pond by the green cover of plants, making it impossible for any life forms to live in the pond.

The volunteers which are helping us from the surrounding houses

This pond is one of the most difficult restoration projects we have undertaken thus far and we are organising clean ups to help this pond come back to a stable condition again. An overnight restoration is not possible; it will take some time before we can achieve the targets we set out for this pond. We hope to start the mechanised desilting and the deepening of this pond with an excavator as soon as we can. Until then we can make small steps and we are proud of the high percentage of people from the surrounding houses who are willing to help us in conserving this pond. It shows us that many people share the same vision as us.

Volunteer for India & her Environment with E.F.I,  Jai Hind


Egattur Pond – Work in Progress

Since our pond restoration program at Egattur Pond kickstarted with the Pongal @ Pond celebrations, the waterbody has changed massively. 

Firstly, weeds and invasive bushes like the Prosopis juliflora have been removed from the bunds by the excavator. On the one hand,  the water holding capacity gets increased. On the other hand, with the removal of invasive species, native trees and bushes get the space to grow and to build up a natural habitat.

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The progress of de-silting is in full swing. The silt has built up, because of a surplus of nutrients inside the pond. The silt is now used to build the bunds around the pond. First bunds have been established on the southern, eastern and northern side of the pond. Further strengthening will follow in the next few days.

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Inside the pond, a small green island can be found. Different species of birds can be seen there, despite the unfinished restoration. Little cormorants go fishing and moorhens search for green vegetable material.

Stay tuned for the next update.

Volunteer for India & her environment with E.F.I.

~Jai Hind~

Egattur Pond – The first steps of a restoration

The pond between the skyscrapers takes its first steps in the restoration progress.

The small waterbody of 0.86 acres lies between the Hiranandani housing properties in Egattur, south of central Chennai. The bunds are overgrown by lush green bushes and weeds. The Thalam Kulam appears as a green paradise in between the blocks.

The Buckingham Canal can be found just a few meters away from the waterbody and birds fly over to the Thalam Kulam to take a rest. Lizards can be found too.

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The pond looks healthy and clean, but at a second glance some problems come up. The green vegetation consists partially out of invasive species such as the Prosopis juliflora. This plant has been introduced decades ago to meet the rising demand for wood for heating purposes. By now it can be found all over the Indian subcontinent. With the invasive character of the plant, it represses native plants, takes their spot and destroys the original ecosystem in the way.

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Prosopis juliflora

 

Due to the growth of plants and weeds on the ponds banks and the development of silt, the water holding capacity has decreased. The waterbody is not able to hold the amounts of water it used to take. This can lead to mayor floodings during monsoon season. 

In addition, different sorts of trash, mainly plastics, can be found around the pond. 

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View from above

The start of the Pongal festival days has also acted as the beginning of the restoration of the pond. Around 80 environment enthusiasts volunteered with E.F.I. and cleaned the pond with united efforts. More community-based events will take place in the coming weeks to make the locals more aware of their local environment and to introduce the benefits of a pond restoration.

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Volunteers at the Pongal @ Pond event

Also, the excavator started its work desilting the pond and freeing up the bunds from weeds. The work will be finished in the next weeks before further work such as bund formation can start.

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Volunteer for India & her environment with E.F.I.

~Jai Hind~

குலம் காக்கும் குளத்தில் பொங்கல்

மென்பொருள் நிறுவனங்கள் பல நிறைந்துள்ள பழைய மஹாபலிபுரம் சாலையில் எண்ணற்ற நீர் நிலைகள் உள்ளன. இவற்றில் ஏரி, குளம், குட்டை, ஓடைகள் என எத்தனையோ இருக்கின்றன. நகரமயமாக்கலின் தாக்கத்தினால் இந்த நீராதாரங்கள் இன்று கேட்பாரற்று இருக்கின்றன. இதனால் இந்த நீர் நிலைகளில் குப்பை கொட்டப்படுவதும், கட்டிடக்கழிவுகள் கொண்டு நிரப்புவதும் என எத்தனையோ பிரச்சனைகள். இயற்கை ஆர்வம் கொண்டு, நீர் ஆதாரங்களை காக்கும் முயற்சியில் பல மக்கள் ஈடுபட்டுள்ளன. அப்படி தாழம்பூர், ஈகாட்டூr பகுதி மக்கள் E.F.I  எனும் இயற்கை பணியில் ஈடுபட்டுள்ள தனியார் தொண்டு நிறுவனத்துடன் இனைந்து இந்த பகுதி குளங்களை சுத்தம் செய்து, அறிவியல் பூர்வமாக புனரமைக்கும் பணியில் ஈடுபட்டுள்ளன.

தாழம்பூரில் குப்பைமேடாக இருந்த குளத்தை சுத்தம் செய்து, தூர்வாரி, ஆழப்படுத்தி, கறைகளை பலப்படுத்தி, மரக்கன்றுகள் நட்டு அதை ஒரு நீர் ஆதாரமாக மீட்டெடுக்கும் பனி முழுவீச்சில் நடந்தேறிவருகிறது. அது மட்டும் இன்றி ஏகாட்டூரில், பக்கிங்காம் கால்வாய் அருகில் உள்ள மூன்று குளங்களில், முதல் குளத்தில் உள்ளூர் மக்களின் ஈடுபாடுடன் குளத்தை சுத்தம் செய்து மீட்டெடுக்கும் பனி 12-ஜனவரி அன்று தொடங்கியது. குலம் காக்கும் குளத்தில் பொங்கல் என்ற தலைப்புடன் சுமார் 80 உள்ளூர் மக்கள்  E.F.I இன் அழைப்பை ஏற்று குளத்தில் காட்டப்பட்டுள்ள நெகிழி குப்பைகளை அகற்றும் பணியில் சுமார் 3மணி நேரம் ஈடுபட்டனர். அதை தொடர்ந்து, கனரக இயந்திரங்கள் கொண்டு குளத்தை அறிவியல் பூர்வமாக புனரமைக்கும் பனி தொடங்கியது. சுமார் 45 நாட்கள் நடைபெறவிருக்கும் இந்த பணிகள் முடிந்த பின்பு இந்த குளம் ஒரு முக்கிய நீர் ஆதாரமாக விளங்கும்.

 

இது போன்ற பணிகளில் உங்களை ஈடுபடுத்தி கொள்ள:

தொடர்புகொள்ளுங்கள் 95000 47657 – management@indiaenvironment.org

Volunteer for India & her Environment with E.F.I, Jai Hind.

Thalambur Keni Pond: A Restoration in Progress

 

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Thalambur Keni Pond on January 7,2019

The Thalambur Keni Pond which is located in the South of Chennai is being restored by Environmentalist Foundation of India starting the 28th of December 2018.

 

With an area of around 3,200 square meters, it is a minor Pond. Directly adjacent to a highly developed area, this pond looked very chaotic and more like a jungle than a pond. With a water area full of hyacinths and other invasive species around the waterbody the native plants were pushed out of the habitat. The water was in bad condition because water hyacinth is a plant which covers the whole water area, consumes dissolved oxygen and doesn’t allow sunshine through to the depth of the waterbody. The high bio-oxygenation demand results in the loss of life in this Pond.

 

 

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Thalambur Keni Pond at the start of Restoration

 

It was no eye-catcher for the local people and nothing to be proud of. We are changing this because every waterbody is worth the effort to be brought back to the pristine beauty. This Pond needed a refreshing start to thrive, attract animals and become a waterbody worth being proud of again.

The first step of this process was the removal of the invasive plants and the clearance of the jungle to make space for the excavator to start de-silting and deepening the pond. The plan was to build a 4-step pond with a water area in the core and quadruple bunding forming the steps up to the edge of the waterbody. The work is presently underway and the jungle of invasive species has been removed. The water pit is being formed and will be deepened more.

 

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Recharge pit at the core of Thalambur Keni Pond

 

On Sunday the 6th of January, we ran a Wall-E Awareness Painting Activity in which 100 volunteers took part and painted many beautiful pictures on the topic of Water Conservation. While we were running this activity, some volunteers also started to do their own cleanup activity and collected waste from around the pond to make the pond clean again. It was heartening for us to see the enthusiasm from volunteers who were willing to do a lot for a pond like this. (Pictures in the slideshow below)

 

 

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We thank our committed volunteers for showing us that the work we are doing can, and will be, taken over by likeminded people sharing the same vision for the environment as us.

The work is in progress and there is still plenty to be done.

Join us for events,  and Volunteer for India & her Environment with E.F.I,  Jai Hind

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The Restoration of Arasamara Pond by E.F.I.

The Arasamara Kulam is a pond of the size of one acre in G.N. Palayam. Five kilometres east of central Pondicherry. The area around the pond was for agriculture use back in the day. Due to rapid urbanisation, the area has now developed into a fully urbanised area with mainly one to two storey homes.

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The pond was in a bad shape. The bunds were non-existing structures. Therefore the depth of the pond was at a minimum. Certain areas were completely water free. Invasive plants could be found all over the place, due to their good adaptability on bad conditions. Native species like bamboo or palm got pushed out of the habitat. The missing of a large number of native trees, let to a decline in the native bird population in the area.

To add, the pond, as it is the case with many of them, got used as a dumpsite for housing-related waste. Especially plastic waste hinders water to percolate into the ground. Greyish water used to flow into the pond trough one major inlet.

Conditions of the Arasamara pond needed to change.

Conservation work was undertaken during this years September in several steps.

At first, the dumped garbage got removed. These activities were held with the help of the local community and around 120 students from different schools. These actions need to be done in order to facilitate a functioning water percolation.

Secondly, the invasive plants and shrubs needed to be pulled out.

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Next, the pond got de-silted. The excavated sludge was used to build and strengthen the bunds later on. Bunds are the essential part of a pond because they de-mark the outlines and increase the water holding capacity with their addition in hight from the ground level. If bunds are formed further encroachments and negative activities are prohibited.

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A recharge pit got installed in the middle of the pond with a size of six by eighteen meters. The caught water centres in the middle of the pond. This increases the percolation rate and groundwater recharges faster.

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But still, the treatment of greywater was a problem, which needs to be solved but in the ecological way of fashion. In that matter, an 80-meter long trench got to build around the pond. Open oxidation is possible which cleans the water in a natural way. Native plants such as vetiver were planted, in order to naturally filter heavy metal. At the beginning of the trench, a filter, which stops debris and solid waste got installed and is maintained every three days in order to keep the water flowing.

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E.F.I. implemented a community-based model of conservation. The local inhabitants got introduced in the topic and could get involved in several activities. The goal is to boost the awareness of the locals for especially the water bodies around there home. These actions prevent future encroachments by humankind.

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As the restoration is completed by now outcomes can be seen already. After the recent and heavy rainfalls, the pond got partially filled up. Cleaner water can be seen now. The environment will improve in a longer amount of time. The already improved habitat will attract a larger number of birds and with it establish a working ecosystem in this one-acre big space. Due to the higher amount of storable water, the temperature already declines in the near area. Water has a much higher heat storage than air. Therefore it cools down the surrounding area.

The restoration was an all and all success for the environment and the locals.

Get informed about our other projects as well.

Volunteer for India & her environment with E.F.I.

~Jai Hind~

Tiruvannamalai Pond Restoration by E.F.I.

If you have seen pictures of Oothu Kulam dated one year back, you are not able to see any pond. The forgotten waterbody located in the south of central Tiruvannamalai was filled up with sludge.

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The pond of around one acre practically was unfunctional for its planned purpose. Besides the silt, invasive shrubs and bushes had grown in the area of the pond bed.

In August E.F.I. started the progress of restoring the waterbody.  First preparation was undertaken The invasive species left and the boundaries of the pond got clearly marked.

Secondly, the pond needed deepening. Two to three feet of silt were removed out of the core of the pond bed. With the material excavated, bunds were build to increase the water storage capacity and facilitate greater water percolation.

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The third phase contained establishing a recharge pit in the middle of the pond. Buy digging this partly deeper structure, water can be centered. This affects the groundwater percolation in a positive way.

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At last plantation work will be under progress during monsoon to prevent erosion of the bunds. Plant planted include neem, palm, and peepal. Also, crops like vetiver are considered planting to challenge our part of climate change, with the help of the local community.

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Volunteer for India & her environment with E.F.I.

~Jai Hind~

Theeyambakkam Pond – A Ray of Hope

Theeyambakkam pond
An identity lost pond, filled with rubble and invasive thorny shrubs.

Theeyambakkam Gandhi Nagar pond was once a lustrous pond serving the locality as a freshwater reserve and a haven for birds and other living creatures. In the name of development, the pond was vandalized by unmindful people residing around the pond. Lost amid the construction debris and invasive plants, the pond went dormant.

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Invasive Thorny Shrubs

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Deserted pond

Environmentalist Foundation of India identified this pond in this dire state of neglect and wanted to bring back the life to it. The restoration began in the month of August 2018.

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On completion of the restoration by the end of August, the pond had its first sigh of relief.

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The intermittent rains and just a week of north-east monsoon has started filling the pond. The pond has regained its past glory with all native shrubs growing on its peripheries after the invasive ones were removed.

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Soon the pond will be filled to the rim and become an abode of lively activity with insects, birds, reptiles and all other organisms returning to the pond. Let’s respect every living being and conserve freshwater bodies all of us depend on.

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