Extending the Devnadi Experiment: Rejuvenating Pune's Water Recharge and Green spaces

The ExperimentEdit


Devnadi in Baner


PMC Tree Authority Jagzap explaining the initiative


Ensuring tomorrow is livable


The vision for Devnadi


Rejuvenating Pune's rivers and water bodies

  • Residents of Concord Proxima, Gera Emerald City and other societies on Baner Road got together to green the "Green Belt", Nulla Park and River Protection Zone on the DP of Baner-Balewadi.
  • The exercise began on Sunday 28th June 2009 on SNo 85 where over 95 saplings were planted by children and adults who gathered in large numbers with help from the Garden Department of the PMC that made the pits and provided the saplings.
  • The citizens voiced the vision of stretching the greening initiative along the entire bank of Devnadi as per the DP.
  • Residents of various apartments along the canal have been volunteering effort to green Devnadi.
  • Children have adopted a tree each to ensure they look after it.
  • NGO's have catalyzed the effort through community building.
  • The initiative has brought together people into a community that is now working on rain-water harvesting, vermiculture and green energy options.

The ChallengesEdit

  • The garden department was not clear about the policies for greening the green belt: who should take the initiative: builders, PMC or others?
  • There were inconsistent responses about the ownership of the green belt: was this private, public or no-mans land?
  • There were different interpretations of builders: some had occupied properties right into the canal by building walls and said they would green it inside; others had left the 7.5 m space for greening.
  • This property should be PMC managed and the builder community be compensated in some way to ensure their interest in leaving the Devnadi free from encroachment.
  • The PMC has no blueprint to make all its streams into parks or bio-preserves or rain-water capture points or even just something as unique as the Osho Park. This makes the initiative have to go through several stumbling blocks.
  • Devnadi was highly polluted when the initiative began- there was a massive cleanup required.
  • Cleaning implements and safety provision was not readily available- the PMC did not have any provision for supporting the citizen initiative.

The OpportunityEdit

  • This is an opportunity for the PMC to create a green policy that will take charge of all streams and rivers and demarcating the property before granting building permission along these.
  • This is an opportunity for the PMC to acquire and move the offset walls to ensure the streams are not obstructed and privately walled.
  • This is an opportunity for the PMC to create a replicable model for all streams in Pune and other urban centres to become water harvesters for recharging the ground water and greening the city.
  • This is also an opportunity for builders to enhance the value of their projects by providing several Km long nature trails with their schemes without having to invest in owning the land.
  • This is an opportunity for the builders to receive credit for greening the city by contributing to building a common Green Zone.
  • This is an opportunity for the builders to enhance the recharge of well water in their schemes to be able to add independent water sources as a plus.
  • This is an opportunity to connect Pune through walkways through paths along each stream and river.
  • This is an opportunity for residents of Pune to show they matter and that the river, streams and nature matters to them.

Action Points for the PMCEdit

  • ThePMC should immediately acquire and take into possession the land along the Devnadi and all similar streams immediately and undertake a plantation before they are encroached upon.
  • The PMC should immediately green the entire Devnadi from SNo 61 to 161 in Baner and remove any obstructions to the flow of water.
  • PMC to proactively plant trees, provide access to adjoining societies and make available a participatory budget to all societies along the canal to improve the greening, water-harvesting, cleaning of such streams.
  • PMC to draw up an action plan to connect a walking track made from broken bricks (to allow water percolation) to connect every tributary of the Mula and Mutha together on foot.
  • PMC should give a 10% Property Tax Rebate to all societies who have not encroached on canals and have taken initiative to green them and continue to maintain them.
  • PMC to make construct rain-water-harvesting tanks adjacent to the canal with excess runoff being released through filters into the streams.
  • The PMC to create a body of societies and residents along such streams for governing the stream issues trough a quarterly review and an annual budget.

History of Devnadi from 2008Edit

  1. May 2008 Request to Yashwant Khaire, PMC Garden Superintendent to green the green zone on Devnadi near S.No 85 in Baner.
  2. May 2008 Khaire visits and is excited to see the huge width of Devnadi – aprox 60 m – with almost no encroachments. Envisions a garden along both banks of the Devnadi in the Green Zone from the Devnadi’s origin to the point it meets the river Mula – a stretch of 5-7 Km.
  3. Khaire gets caught up in the CYG projects and cannot follow up besides having a survey of the stream made. He quits the PMC after CYG.
  4. April 2009 Request initiated with Bhanudas Mane, Khaire’s successor with the help of Pune Tree Watch , an NGO.
  5. May 2009 After a month of coaxing, Mane concedes and plants 100 trees on S.No 85 at the hands of local residents from Baner.
  6. June 2009 Dr Rajendra Singh, Jalapurush and Magsaysay Award winner, hears of citizen’s efforts to clear the Devnadi of waste and turn it into a garden.
  7. August 2009 Dr Rajendra Singh visits Devnadi and meets the Baner citizens and PMC officials and explains how to make Devnadi have perennial flow. Guides citizens to increase ground-water, do natural rainwater harvesting through the river. Explains how floods are prevented by keeping rivers in their natural flow. A copy of a draft Urban Watershed Policy is handed over at his hands to the PMC for implementation to ensure all streams in Pune can become rain-water harvesters, free from encroachments and become green zones.
  8. September 2009, November 2009 Citizens practice Dr Rajendra Singh’s principles of check dams. People living on the banks of Devnadi involved in the process.
  9. May 2010 to August 2010 Mahendra Ghagre donates 1000 Bamboo Saplings to the community to plant along the bank to reinforce the embankments and green the area.
  10. June 13th 2010 Some residents map the entire Devnadi on Google Maps with photographs. Thers is a cloudburst the same evening. The neighborhood of Devnadi is unaffected although many parts of the city flood.
  11. June-July 2010 1000 bamboo saplings planted along the stream by citizens.
  12. August 2010 PMC starts JCB work in Devnadi – Citizens are alarmed and stop work.
  13. August 28th 2010 Citizens hold a Baner Area Sabha that is attended by the Baner residents, the PMC engineers in charge of the project, RTI Activists, Environmentalists. The meeting passes resolutions.
  14. August 30 2010 The minutes of the Area Sabha and its resolutions emailed to the Municipal Commissioner, Zonal Commissioner, Ward Officer and other officials and citizens.
  15. September 18th 2010 At the request of the PMC officials a follow-up meeting of the Baner Area Sabha organized. The Addl City engineer in charge of the project visits along with other officials and agree to the resolutions.
  16. September 18th 2010 the minutes of the meeting and resolutions of the Baner Area Sabha emailed to: The Municipal Commissioner, Zonal Commissioner, Ward Officer, Additional City Engineer in charge of the project and various other citizens. Other NGO’s back the resolutions.
  17. September 2010 there is a cloudburst that affects the locations PMC is constricting the natural flow.
  18. October 3rd 2010 in the absence of any response from the PMC a request filed with the Municipal Commissioner for RTI under Section 4 of the RTI about the action on the Baner Area Sabha Resolutions.
  19. October 4th 2010 Few representatives of the Baner Area Sabha meet the Municipal Commissioner and brief him about the Devnadi Project and the Area Sabha Resolutions. He requests to work through the Ward Officer and Zonal Commissioner.
  20. October 4th 2010 The representatives meet and invite to visit on the 8th of October the Zonal Commissioner to take stock.
  21. October 4th 2010 evening has a huge cloud-burst. Various locations where channelization has happened (including the stream behind the Municipal Commissioners Bungalow) flood. There is NO flood on Devnadi as it is not yet channelized and has an average width of 50-60 m.
  22. November 8th 2010 The Zonal Commissioner visits and inspects the Devnadi – concurs that the natural buffers for rainwater are adequate and excellent. Says he will ensure the Devnadi is not channelized and requests a letter to the Municipal Commissioner urging for the same so that he can replicate the natural Devnadi model thorough the entre stretch of the Devnadi without any channelization. The letter is emailed to the PMC Commissioner.
  23. December 2010 The Devnadi has raw sewage released into it. Residents trace it to several chambers having been broken by vandalism (photos of broken sewers available) releasing about 10 TMC sewage into the stream. Complaints to the PMC (including to the Ward Officer, Zonal Commissioner and Local Corporator’s machinery) every week and complaints to the MPCB , Pune have yielded NO results to date.
  24. January 2011 Tracing the flow upstream channelization work was discovered by the residents at the point of origin of the Devnadi.
  25. January 3rd 2011 Visit to PMC to ask about the progress of the Baner Area Sabha Resolutions through RTI with the PIO to the Office of the Municipal Commissioner. No information is available and such is noted in the register with the PIO.
  26. January 3rd 2011 Visit to Additional City Engineer to ask about the work. He feigns ignorance. Says his Engineer will visit site with the residents the next day.
  27. January 4th 2011 Mr Sapkal, Mr Akware and other members of PMC meet some Baner Area Sabha members. Say work will proceed. They are asked about the project details and the clearances (video recording available). They have no satisfactory answers as to why this basin is chosen, where does this river flood, why this will stop flooding, what the need for the project is, what will happen to the percolation and ground water, what the environmental precautions exist.
  28. February 2010 Sewage continues to be released in to the Devnadi despite repeated complaints.
  29. February 22nd 2011 The PMC Officials invited to participate in the River March and Baner Area Sabha under the leadership of Dr Rajendra Singh.
  30. February 24th 2011 Water March and Baner Area Sabha under the leadership of Dr Rajendra Singh. Also attended by eminent citizens including Justice P.B.Sawant, Aarti Kirloskar etc. PMC does not participate.
  31. February 24th 2011 Resolutions of the Baner Area Sabha emailed and handed over in person by team of Baner Area Sabha to the Municipal Commissioner, Zonal Commissioner, Ward Officer, Additional Engineers (JNNURM) and copies sent by email to JNNURM and Ministry of Urban Development Delhi, CAG and CBI. Other NGO’s back the resolutions.
  32. February 2011 Several attempts to set up “Labor Camps” by private builder who claimed to have bought the land in the Green Zone on Survey No 85 of the Devnadi foiled. In the meanwhile the JCB razes over 500 Bamboo Saplings.
  33. March 14th 2011 Email/Open letter to the Additional City Engineer (JNNURM ) reiterating that the PMC’s attention had been repeatedly drawn to the fact that they are:
    1. causing large scale ecological destruction of Pune's natural heritage
    2. making the areas around rivers, streams, lakes highly flood prone
    3. causing natural ground water recharge to close and therefore destroying the ground water table
    4. reclaiming 60m wide stream by converting it to a 1 m gutter
    5. violating the Development Plan of the PMC
    6. and drawing his attention to the orders of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice S J Vazifdar of the Hon High Court directing the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC ) to undertake steps for restoration of the lake and then recovering expenses from those on whose behest the work was undertaken.
  34. March 17th 2011 The local Corporator visits the site and questions a few residents for stopping work. He is questioned on his stand on the channelization of Devnadi as the representative and his interest (video recording available).
  35. March 23rd 2011 The new Supervisory Engineer (Mr Pharate) visits the site with Mr Akware and the Consultants to the project. Finds serious violations of the DP and the DPR. Finds that his consultants cannot even measure locations and offsets and have been causing huge environmental damage. Asks his superior Mr Vinay Deshpande (who now has been handed the charge of the project from the Addl City Engineer) to visit on the 24th of March 2011.


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