Noida Authority plans to revive wetlands; move not enough, say environmentalists
New Delhi: With the monsoons arriving, the Noida Authority has started planning the revival of at least six wetlands in the city, which were lost to "unregulated human activities", officials said. They added that this initiative comes as the Prime Minister stressed on rain water conservation, writing to all village heads across the country in this regard. The authority is focusing on reviving wetlands in Sector 91, Sector 85, Gejha, Bakhtawarpur, and two water catchments at the upcoming biodiversity park in Sector 91.
"At Sector 91, there is a wetland area spread across 12 acres which has remained neglected for a long time. Now the rubble and other kinds of waste surrounding the area has been removed while channels are being widened for harvesting and storage of rainwater during monsoons," Noida Authority's General Manager Rajeev Tyagi said.
Talking about efforts already being made to make sure the wetlands are ready to catch rainwater, Tyagi added that native grass varieties and trees are being planted to ecologically restore the area.
He noted that the objective is to not only address the depleting groundwater levels but also help reduce local flooding during heavy spells of rain in the area. "Awareness is being raised among local residents of the area regarding the conservation of water through various campaigns," Tyagi said.
The officials also said that efforts to restore the condition of the 6,000 sq metre wetland in Sector 85, neglected as a result of uncontrolled dumping of construction and demolition waste, are underway.
"Waste is being removed from the periphery of the area while the wild grass is also being uprooted and will be replaced by native grass and trees in the upcoming monsoon," Tyagi said, adding that the ponds in Gejha and Bakhtawarpur are being restored along the same lines.
Welcoming the inititive by city officials, environmentalist and water conservationist Vikrant Tongad said that more could be done with regards to solving what he termed as the "water crisis" residents of Noida are facing.
Tongad said that while there were intially around 250 water catchments areas and ponds in the city before its urbanisation, the authority is focusing on its plan for only six. "Look, I admit that authorities are doing some work in this direction, but the holistic efforts required to truly address water problems in the city are still lacking," he said.
Tongad also added that problems related to overexploitation of groundwater have led the city to a point where its groundwater table shows a depletion rate of around two metres per year.
"We need to look at reviving and restoring more water bodies in the city to address the depleting groundwater levels here," he said. Moreover, the water conservationist said that rapid concretisation efforts, such as tiling of pavements are stopping rain water from restoring groundwater levels.
And while the authority said that its initiative to revive the six wetlands will incur "zero cost" owing to their CSR tie-ups and the concept of "shramdaan", Tongad seems to think that the authorities should invest some financials in strengthening such initiatives, especially given how urgently water concerns in Noida need to be addressed.
"While it is great that the authority wants to engage members of the public in this work, they should also look at putting some finacial input into the whole process to address the problem," he said. Tongad also raised some serious concerns about whether the work on these six wetlands could be completed in time for the monsoon showers. "Maybe the Sector 91 wetland will be ready in time since they have been working on it for a few weeks now, but the others I'm not so sure," he added.
(with PTI inputs)