Thursday, April 26, 2018

Integrated water shed management thro traditional water sourcing

For Basant Pandey, a young environmental activist, living in a remote village Danya in District Almora Uttarakhand has never been a deterrent to stop him taking to social activities. When Green Circle came to know about him and watershed management activities of his NGO HIMAL based at Danya and his desire to revive water bodies in his locality, no one believed that he would have in-depth knowledge about the environmental issues. Green Circle members Selvarajan, Anil Parashar, Muralidhar and Ramesh Murmurku decided to take 14 hours journey to take to the villagers.  At Danya, Almora is a remote and otherwise sleeping village HIMAL, a Danya based NGO working for environment and livelihood under the able guidance of Dwarkaite Ramesh Mumukshu, who is an RTI Activist. Ramesh also works for HIV affected patients. On 22nd April, Ramesh and Basant Pandey of HIMAL, Manoj and Om Prakash of Gandhi Peace Foundation and M/s Anila behan and Pushpa Behen of Sava Shakthi planted a Rose plant to mark the Earth Day. After the planting they also conducted a joint meeting to plan out an action program for revival of traditional water bodies called Naula at Swalambhan Bhawan Danya.. HIMAL members expressed their desire to work with Green Circle for taking steps to improve water resources by rejuvenating traditional water sourcing through naula and exploring other sources like Kuan and bavli. Later on, the entire team visited a 400 year old Naula to explore how this traditional water body caters to the need of the rural people. Green Circle has decided to undertake the construction of a naula at Danya supported by HIMAL and other sansthas of Almora district. Green Circle members also visited Sattal near Nainital and conducted Birdwatching 

Composting and horticulture support to Pravan foundation!

On 22nd April 2018, Green Circle celebrated Earth day in two locations Mehrauli South Delhi and Danya Almora District. Green Circle has been engaged by Mehrauli based NGO Pravan Foundation which is extending voluntary education to underprivileged children, for providing composting and horticulture consultancy. The Pravan foundation campus has a number of well grown trees which shed leaves during spring. Further they have a number of cows which provide gobar. It was sufficient for Green Circle to extend their free consultancy for composting. On Earthday, Green Circle’s eminent environmentalist P K Dutta visited the premises and inaugurated the compost pit. He also made a layout plan for horticulture for planting vegetable and flowering plants.   Mrs Aparna Kapoor founder of Pravan foundation dropped the first layer of dry leaves and gobar in the pit. Green Circle has handed over the horticulture landscaping plan with her. Earlier Selvarajan, Anil Parashar and P K Dutta inspected the premises and assured the Foundation of voluntary service for the project. Selvarajan says, “ This is one of the projects, first of its kind where Green Circle’s composting initiative in Dwarka is replicated in other locations. Our advantage in Mehrauli was the availability of gobar, kitchen waste and dry leaves.” Anil Parashar said, “we will monitor the progress of the vegetable gardening periodically and help the foundation to make the premises eco-friendly. We are also planning rainwater harvesting unit for the premises”

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Najafgarh Lake -A forgotten wetland in Delhi and its biodiversity

Lecture           : No 2 dated 10.3.18
Speaker          : Dr Sumit Dookiya Asst Professor GGIP University 
Topic              : Najafgarh Lake -A forgotten wetland in Delhi and its biodiversity

Brief Profile of speaker
Working as Assistant Professor, at Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, New Delhi and teaching on various interdisciplinary issues of Biodiversity and Conservation at PG level. Main research area is Mammalian Ecology and Avian Biology. Also worked as Scientist-Ornithology in Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), worked as a Post Doctoral Fellow/Research Associate at Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, worked as Field Coordinator and Research Associate in Satpura-Maikal Range in Central India for evaluation of Tiger Census methodology. Also worked with the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) at Desert Regional Station, Jodhpur for faunal surveys of birds and mammals. Awarded as Young Scientist by Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi in 2010, and Wildlife Conservation Award-2016 by Carl Zeiss.

Highlights of the lecture

Wetlands Definition
Under Article 1.1 of Ramsar Convention, wetlands are defined as areas of marsh land or water, whether natural or artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed six metres. It is called ‘Kidney of the landscape’ because of its character of purifying the water before reaching upto aquifers. It maintains ground water level and supports many ecological services. Besides its aesthetic and ecological wealth, it also supports large number of flora and fauna

Glorious history of Najafgarh Lake
The Najafgarh Jheel was formed by the Sahibi River which originates in the Aravalli Hills, near Jitgarh, Manoharpur, and the district of Jaipur in Rajasthan. After gathering volume over a hundred tributaries, the Sahibi River forms a broad stream around Alwar and Kotputali. It then enters the Rewari district in Haryana, near the city of Rewari, after which it re-enters first Rajasthan near Kot Kasim, and then Haryana, near the village of Jarthal.  The dry riverbed near Jarthal is still two kilometers wide. During light monsoon rainfall, the river's flat and sandy bottom absorbs all rainwater. During heavy rains, the river branches off into two smaller streams, finally reaching the outskirts of Delhi where the natural depression at Najafgarh became the reservoir of the overflow from the river, forming the Najafgarh Lake.  In past, till 1960, the water of the Sahibi River continued to flow out of the lake, through a narrow channel, into the river Yamuna. The lake also receives inflow from Gurgaon and Rohtak Districts as well as from south-west Delhi and has a total catchment of 906 Jheel named after a powerful Persian noble of the later Mughal court, Mirza Najaf Khan (1733-1782).

Important as water reservoir
The Jheel area has got flooded in the past, during the floods of 1958, 1964, 1978, 1988, 1995 and 1996. Its flash floods in 1964 and 1977 breached the Najafgarh nallah embankments and submerged urban tracts for over 100 days. Due to the low lying nature of the terrain it receives some amount of flood discharge in the monsoons. Important as water reservoir. The Jheel area has got flooded in the past, during the floods of 1958, 1964, 1978, 1988, 1995 and 1996.
Its flash floods in 1964 and 1977 breached the Najafgarh nallah embankments and submerged urban tracts for over 100 days. Due to the low lying nature of the terrain it receives some amount of flood discharge in the monsoons. 

Pre-draining history: A Vast lake
In 1960, the unfortunate complete draining of this lake, after widening of the Najafgarh drain by the Flood control and irrigation department of Delhi. The lake in many years filled up a depression more than 300 km2 in rural Delhi. Extremely rich wetland ecosystem forming a refuge for vast quantities of waterbirds and local wildlife. The lake was one of the last habitats of the famed and endangered Siberian Crane, reported till 1971, completely vanished from the Indian subcontinent. Before independence many British colonial Officers and dignitaries came in large parties for waterfowl hunting every season (Imperial Gazetteer of India).

The Najafgarh Jheel was earlier used to be submerged.
Under water throughout the year and evaporation and percolation were the only means for its disposal, until the construction of the Najafgarh Drain in the 19th century.  Najafgarh jheel is the point where the water expands in a 10 Sq km area due to a natural depression, to the south of the basin having an independent catchment of 219 sq. miles as quoted in the master plan of drainage of Najafgarh basin by flood control wing, Delhi 1976. After dragging of the Najafgarh Canal, inundation or submerged area reduced upto 7-8 sq. km. Northern side bund /embankment completely stopped water in major part of Delhi side and now lake is having maximum spread in Gurgaon side (Haryana).  Now about 38 big and small drains join Najafgarh canal as per the Drainage map of Delhi.

Will bird Sanctuary come up?
Potential to be developed as a bird sanctuary, though once proposal was also floated by Department of Tourism, Govt. of Delhi. It is close to Sultanpur National Park (just 2 km aerial distance) Serving as feeding ground for many storks, herons, egrets, goose and ducks.  Every week end more than 50 birders visit this area and visitor number increases with the onset of migratory birds. One of the favourite birding destination in Delhi.  Many social media groups conduct bird walks, and after disturbance at Okhla Sanctuary, thousands of migratory birds stay during winter months

Avian Diversity
Delhi is home of more than 400 species and more than 25% of the birds of Delhi are migratory.
As non-residents, they visit the city during specific times of the year, both to escape formerly unsuitable or unfruitful habitats, and to pursue a perceived opportunity for advancing ones survival. Najafgarh Wetland supports close to 200 birds, around half of Delhi’s total avian species

Rare birds
Siberian Crane: Till 1960, it was regularly seen.
Indian Skimmer: Major-General Hutson (1943-45) lists the species as frequenting rivers near Delhi (probably the Yamuna). Usha  Ganguly (1955) notes it only once near Dasna Jheel and terms it resident but not too common. Last reported by Vivek Menon and Tara Gandhi on 21st July 1991.
Smew: Last wintering season, spotted in Jhajjar (Haryana), however, according to records of AO Hume, the bird could be seen regularly at the Najafgarh drain till the late 19th century.
Oriental scops owl: A very small bird, was last seen in 1925 by Basil-Edwards till it was spotted once in Palam Vihar in 2013 and then at the Najafgarh drain in January 2015. 
Greater Flamingoes stay here almost 8-9 month in a year. Maximum was counted 800+ in July 2015 by team of GGSIPU.
Weaver Bird Delhi-NCR have 3 species of Weaver Birds. Baya Weaver, Black-breasted  Weaver, Streaked Weaver
Other birds Large flock of Black-tail Godwit , Black-necked Stork, Painted Stork, Saras Crane, Black Francolin

Faunal Diversity
> 30 species of Butterfly
> 25 species of Dragonflies and Damsel flies
>10 species of Fishes
Mammals like Jackal, Jungle Cat, Grey Mongoose, Small Indian Mongoose and Bluebull can frequently seen. Before going into oblivion, time to recognize it as a important wetland ecosystem. Need proper planning and identification as Important Bird Site for wintering as well as resident birds. Nature based Ecotourism. Complete Biodiversity assessment required and can be developed as Biodiversity Park in the line of YBP

Green Circle has started an Environmental Lecture Series in Dwarka New Delhi at Airforce & Naval Officers Society, Plot No 11 Sector 7 Dwarka on 10.2.2018 and there will be 24 lectures, one lecture every month on Second Saturday between 5.30 PM and 7.00 PM. All are welcome to attend

Empowering Environment by connecting people to plants

Green Circle has started an Environmental Lecture Series in Dwarka New Delhi at Airforce & Naval Officers Society, Plot No 11 Sector 7 Dwarka on 10.2.2018 and there will be 24 lectures, one lecture every month on Second Saturday between 5.30 PM and 7.00 PM. All are welcome to attend

Lecture           :           No 1 dated 10.2.18
Speaker          :           P D Dutta -Naturo Environmentalist
Topic              :           Empowering Environment by connecting people to plants

Brief Profile of speaker
Mr P D Datta is an ardent lover of nature and also a nature photographer. He has passion for capturing different shares naturally created in the trees such as God idols, human beings, actions and animals. He has participated in exhibitions and conducted various programs on nature for children.

Highlights of the lecture
While talking about Environment, one has to think of future generations. Environment is a collective as well as individual subject. Today we find that vehicles are increasing and pollution as well. The Environmental concerns are many. We therefore need to begin working for Environment. My work for nature started with observing natural shapes formed in plant leaves, twigs, branches and trunks. I have started taking unique tree pictures and displayed in schools. I have associated with NGOs like CSE to get connected to schools to conduct green audit. We have more of amaranthus and neem plants in Dwarka. Amaranthus varieties could be seen in Golden and silver colours. In fact , my connection to Environment started with window viewing which created my interest in plants. I started writing about plants, natural shapes and also photography. I still write in Neem magazine. One can get connected to nature by trying hands in Gardening and visiting natural places. In Dwarka, concrete structures are reducing green canopy. We need more and more greenery. Tree plantation campaign should go on. I experience that some people protest trees in their vicinity. In modern days, the situation is getting grave, but we need to start getting connected to plants. If you observe trees and plants, you will find images shapes as displayed by me here. This can create some interest in inculcating love for nature. I approached 40 schools in Delhi for creating interest but only eight schools have shown interest. It all depends on school managements to create green campus.  One of my unique initiative was to straighten the bent trees. Bent Trees or fallen trees should be revived. Our initiative was experimented in Indirapuram where school children joined me in straightening the tree which was obstructing traffic. We cut half of the tree and tries straightening it. It could be corrected. Similarly, it's important to try saving existing trees. Together we all should try some collective work.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rwanda replicates India's Green Circle Model in tree planting

Rwanda replicates Green Circle Model

The Tree Adoption Project of Green Circle is catching up. Not in India alone but in other countries too, thanks to the social media connect. The project involves planting trees and watering them regularly by adopting trees. The project is unique in that the trees being adopted which otherwise may remain uncared and wither away or eaten by cattle. The trees are protected with tree guards and are being watered regularly. Green Circle has invited people to adopt one tree each. On their behalf, Green Circle supervises the trees and monitors them daily. Green Circle invites nature lovers to adopt a tree on the eve of Birthdays and Anniversaries. Recently 3 year old Neysa adopted a tree and celebrated her birthday by watering the tree planted by her. For her this is better than calling her friends for a birthday party. Some of our associates in Rwanda were fascinated by the idea of planting a tree on the eve of birthdays and decided to replicate the Tree Adoption Project model.
In Delhi, 3 year old Neysa plants a tree on her Birthday 

Anil Parashar says, “our greening activity was flashed in social media groups. Our well wishers in other parts of the world who view our facebook posing have contacted us and appreciated the tree adoption project. In Rwanda, they have already replicated our model and planted trees on the birthday of one Fabrice Tuyishime. We are planning to reach out to more people elsewhere in the planet,  through our social media links”  

Nirere Madeleine, Chairperson of National Commission for Human rights, Rwanda says,      “We are excited to note that environmental activists in India are planting trees and adopt trees also. Having been inspired by Green Circle Model of planting trees on Birthdays and Anniversary days, on the 19th Birthday of my son Fabrice Tuyishime, we have planted 19 papaya trees. We will continue to do the same in the years to come. Environment has no borders or barriers. We also are planning to have some joint action programs with India to contain global warming. ”

@ Rwanda, 19 year old Fabrice Tuyishime plants 19 trees on his birthday

Green Circle has indicated its intentions to expand the project and celebrate the birthdays and anniversaries of the members by planting trees and adopting them. The tree guards will bear the names of the person celebrating the birthday and date of plantation. Green Circle has also proposed to give the choice of tree to the adopter by liaisoning with nurseries in future.

According to Selvarajan of Green Circle, children will be motivated to sing the Birthday song with the Tree Sapling. The child will adopt the tree planted and watch its growth periodically, while Green Circle will nurture the tree planted and take care of watering the same on daily basis.

 Rwanda, an East African country, being a temperate tropical highland, has also become a victim of climate change and reduced rainfall. The citizens have realized the need for planting trees and preserving their environment.