National, June 2022: As mercury rises each year, the scale of the water crisis in the country begins to increase dramatically. With the world’s 4% water resources, India is technically a water-rich country. However, the large population, climatic factors, and uneven spatial distribution of water resources lead to a severe water crisis in the country that worsens with every year especially in summers. Increased urbanization, infrastructure development and economic activity have added an additional burden to water bodies. Over the years, there is a decline in surface water bodies, which is a key driver of this growing water crisis. Traditionally, each village in the country had a body of water to meet the community’s water needs. These water bodies were considered sacred and collectively, the villagers were responsible for maintaining and managing it. However, over time, these bodies of water have become the disposal sites for waste and construction waste. Not long after, most such places lost their identity as a water body to landfill and many were covered by some infrastructure over them.
The traditional approach to water conservation is not enough to solve the ever-worsening water problems every year. As the water crisis in the country worsens, communities, government, NGOs and corporates once again see these water bodies as a viable source of water. Cube Roots Foundation is one such organization which is providing hands in solving India’s water crisis by rehabilitating several ponds in the rural areas. The Cube Roots Foundation, through its community development initiatives, has rehabilitated many ponds in Rajasthan, which is India’s most water-stressed state. Being home to the world’s most populated desert makes ponds and lakes extremely crucial for the people of Rajasthan.
The foundation receives several requests from village panchayats and communities to work in this area. After public consultations and a feasibility study of the region’s water bodies, a scientific approach is adopted when selecting the pond to be rehabilitated. Factors like precipitation in the region, the water retention capacity of the pond, local vegetation, and the size of the surrounding population are key factors taken into consideration while selecting the body and choosing the methods for the rejuvenation. The rehab work includes the removal of silt, garbage, weeds, construction waste, and other unnecessary materials from the pond. Sometimes the width and depth of the pond are also raised so that it retains more water.
Bringing water to the parched areas of the pond is among the biggest challenges. The foundation takes care of it by constructing the rainwater catchment area and small canals that are dug to supply the body with water. Plantations are also done around the rehabilitated ponds that help retain water. Many villages in the state receive little rain and storm water runoff in these places is very high due to the lack of any deterring structures. Ponds cannot hold much water and during the rainy season, tend to overflow. The Cube Roots Foundation has identified several small and medium water bodies in the state and worked on their revival.
The rehabilitation of ponds in these villages has increased the water holding capacity and now these ponds can hold a much higher volume of water. Prior to rehabilitation, ponds could retain water for a maximum of two months, losing it in evaporation and seepage. However, after Cube’s efforts, these ponds retain water up to 6 months after rainfall, which has significantly improved the lives of the villagers. The water in these ponds recharge groundwater for a prolonged period and villagers use it for irrigation and provide drinking water for livestock. In some of these rural areas, in the absence of running water, women had to travel miles to fetch water to perform their daily chores. This initiative has helped many rural women and improved their life.
Lakes and ponds have always been an integral part of life in Rajasthan. To counterbalance the shortage of water most of the time due to scanty rainfall & lack of live water bodies in the state, ponds have been developed to recharge the ground water. The pond rehabilitation provides relief to the local community, and livestock and recharges the ground water level, thus promoting environmental sustainability. Cube Roots Foundation’s motto is to help and mitigate the problems of the community at large. In fact, The Jaipur Mahua Tollway Limited (JMTL), Cube Highways group company, received a Green Highway Award from NHAI in 2019. The pond rehabilitation initiative was one of the major considerations while selecting the company for the prestigious recognition.
Cube Highways under the social initiatives has rehabilitated 9 ponds in Rajasthan. Details of the rehabilitation activities in these ponds have been listed below.
Capacity increased after pond rehab activity (in Kiloliters)