HYDERABAD: Where there is a will
The well was meant to irrigate farmlands. Instead, it had turned into a dumping yard. But environmentalist Kalpana Ramesh took it upon herself to work towards its restoration. Today, the well stores up to 1.25 million litres of fresh, clean water
An irrigation well in Kondapur that had been covered in sewage for years, has now been restored, saving lakhs of litres of water. It also saved the surrounding area from potential inundation during the devastating Hyderabad rains around two weeks ago.This particular well in Raghavendra Colony of Seshadri Marg in Kondapur had turned into a dumping yard and covered with sewage over the years. It was at the receiving end of household, restaurant, poultry waste from the nearby areas.
However, after the recent rainfall, and post its restoration, it is now storing up to 1.25 million litres of water.The well which was defunct earlier caught the eye of conservationist and the founder of Rainwater Project Kalpana Ramesh around March, 2020. She was in the area to take up the restoration of a non-functional rainwater harvesting facility in the park.
“When I reached the area, I was welcomed by an appalling stench from a nearby area. I walked a few steps when I found this well, which was covered to its brim with all kinds of garbage and filled with black toxic water. It was then that I decided to take up its restoration,” Kalpana told Express.She soon found out that the task was easier said than done. Kalpana was told that the well was part of a park which had become a road now. She was also told that the administration had plans to fill up the well, and turn it into a road as well.
She took up the matter up with the Revenue Department and approached local politicians for clearances, which she was finally given. However, that is not where her troubles ended.“Where lakes are concerned, there are a huge number of factors involved. There are encroachers, buffer zone, revenue maps, understanding inlets and outlets,” she said. Kalpana and a colleague then started mapping the well on their own to understand its contours.
Finally, after that, with a little CSR funding from the HDFC, a team of workers was formed. Kalpana had to formulate a plan to ensure that social distancing standards are maintained, especially with the current pandemic situation. A earthmover was also brought which helped in desilting the well.
The earthmover went into the 14 metre wide and 24 feet deep well, and desilted 7-10 feet, deepening it further. With the surrounding areas being part of a catchment, the water fed into the well quickly during the rains, and after the first spell of rainfall in the city, there was more than 5 lakh litre of water in the well.
Kalpana and her team raised a wall around the well, and created an amphitheatre like entrance to the steps of the well. In the future she plans to develop the area surrounding the well into a rain garden, and is currently awaiting funds and permission from the government.