- Ramveeer Tanwar has restored ten ponds in Uttar Pradesh since 2015
- Mr Tanwar has keen interest in water conservation since his college days
- There are no more ponds left in whole of Noida due to urbanisation
New Delhi: In Greater Noida’s Dabra village, a number of inhabitants have grown up to gradually witness the local ponds being encroached upon. Over the years, what was once a thriving spot that supported life and ecosystems around it, died a slow painful death due to filth and garbage and encroachments. But a visit to the Dabra pond today paints a surprising picture The pond is no longer a garbage filled waterbody, but has been restored to its earlier glory. And at the helm of this miraculous turnaround is 25-year-old Ramveer Tanwar, who has been restoring lakes and ponds in Uttar Pradesh for the last five years.
The dire state of water and waterbodies in India has been an environmental concern for years. The recently released NITI Aayog report, which showed how water resources in India were depleting at an alarming rate, cemented the fact that water in India is at a critical juncture. Across all states, pollution of waterbodies is becoming a difficult phenomenon to contain, but Ramveer Tanwar’s solution to rejuvenate lakes and ponds, stands out.
Mr Tanwar, who is an engineer by profession had been passionate about water conservation during his days as a B.Tech student. During his graduate years, Mr Tanwar had begun a campaign in Gautam Budhha Nagar district in Uttar Pradesh, urging people to conserve water. Many households would leave their taps open, resulting in waste of water for hours. Though initial talks failed to motivate people, Mr Tanwar gathered his students and other interested villagers and held a couple of rallies to make people aware that waste of water today will have an adverse effect on them tomorrow.
I used to provide tuitions to students in the area, and told them to convince their parents not to waste water, but to no avail. People said that water is never going to end and will always be available. I went from one household to another and conducted meetings and rallies to reach out to more people. People never took water crisis seriously before, but were gradually beginning to understand that water is not an unending resource, said Mr Tanwar.
Termed as ‘Jal Choupal’ these gatherings slowly began to become effective across villages in and around Greater Noida. The choupals kept taking place across villages and adjoining districts and during these round of discussions, the problem of garbage laden and encroached upon ponds came to light. These ponds, once rich in water were unable to recharge groundwater as they themselves were barely functional. Years of garbage disposal had turned some ponds into dumping grounds. In 2013, Mr Tanwar decided that some of the dying ponds must be rejuvenated to recharge the region’s groundwater.
“We encountered several problems initially. Some people wanted ponds to remain dumping grounds so that later sand and cement can be poured inside the ponds, and the land used for construction. Many people did not allow us to rejuvenate their bonds, before we started our work on the pond at Dabra village,” said Mr Tanwar.
In 2015, work on rejuvenating the Dabra pond begun. A group of volunteers, comprising local villagers and students joined Mr Tanwar in cleaning the pond, removing tonnes of garbage and restoring it to its earlier glory. Post cleaning the pond, the villagers also plated saplings around the pond to restore its long lost greenery. The district administration was invited to witness this miraculous turnaround of a pond long thought to be on the brink of ruin.
Since 2015, Mr Tanwar has restored 10 ponds in Uttar Pradesh, near the Noida area. During his restoration initiatives, Mr Tanwar has sought help from students, NGO members and village volunteers who have come forward on numerous occasions to rejuvenate ponds. Post cleaning and gathering waste from a pond, the waste is separated into two categories. Plastic waste is disposed in designated dump yards, and the rest of the waste is sold off to scrap dealers. Mr Tanwar, who is employed in an MNC, finds time on only weekends to continue with his rejuvenation efforts.
“In a big city like Noida, there are no more ponds as all of them have been encroached upon. This is a dangerous trend and if itcontinues, will leave no ponds, which are most the potent waterbodies for groundwater recharge. People must stop disposing waste in ponds and lakes and encroaching upon them, as this is gradually pointing us towards the end of groundwater resources in India,” said Mr Tanwar.
Be it the Ganga or the Bellandur lake in Bengaluru, pollution of waterbodies due to garbage disposal and rapid urbanisation is a major cause for concern in a country with depleting water resources. Ramveer Tanwar’s pond rejuvenation programme sets ideal example, reiterating that it is never too late to try and restore ecological balance.