Biodiversity Conservation

Bangalore University Sets an Example with a Comprehensive Rainwater Harvesting System

Cribbing about the water crisis is not going to get us anywhere. The rapidly decreasing availability of drinking water demands better management of water by us citizens.

Water is most precious and a limited commodity, with only 2.5% of the total amount on Earth being Fresh Water and at the same time lesser that 1% of the same portable water recharges the underground aquifer, which are depleting by the day due to over exploitation, by mankind.

United Way Bengaluru, a non-governmental organization, took a conscious decision to address this concern in a big way by proposing the “Construction of Proposed Rainwater Harvesting Structures” at Bangalore University, under the Corporate Social Responsibility Banner. They had initiated it a year earlier. UTC Aerospace System sponsored the construction of proposed rainwater harvesting structures such as Boulder Checks, Recharge pits, Water Pool, Check Dam in the bio-park of Jnana Bharati Campus.

The bio-park in itself was constructed as part of this project and in the process, the students have acquired experience in land management for social forestry. Additionally, they also decided to fund the repair work of existing rain water harvesting structures across the natural nala (sewer drain) in the year 2017-2018.

The comprehensive rainwater harvesting system was conceived in a holistic manner to not only save millions of gallons of water each year but also touch upon allied areas of concern such as reduction of soil erosion and extending the green cover.

The above image shows the construction of the water pool which will serve as an excellent rain water container

Nevertheless, the project is broken into certain chief touch points such as using rain water harvesting systems to reduce the use of potable water for non-potable-water needs, increasing availability of naturally pure/soft water (No dissolved harmful metals/chemicals), reducing the runoff to maintain flood control, reducing the frequent drainage congestion and improving the quality of ground water through dilution and making it mineral inclusive.

This image shows the repair work of existing check dam embankment

All these lead to increase in soil moisture content during non-monsoon season also which will be helpful for trees growth, thriving of Flora & Fauna, higher migration rate of birds and better populations of insect species. It would then create a sanctum sanctorum for biodiversity to thrive.

“The integrated watershed at Bangalore University was guided by Dr Yellappa Reddy who is also instrumental in setting up the Bio-Park.  The project was funded by Collins Aerospace Systems who believed in making the Bangalore University campus more bio-diverse. We are excited to see the increase in the green cover that is now a natural habitat for peacocks, butterflies, birds and several other wildlife” says David Kumar, Project Head, Rural Development and Lakes.

It may also be noted that the encouragement and engagement of the University Staff and students, lead to Positive Environmental Performance and further paved way for increased voluntary work to reduce the stress on our dependence on our ecosystem.

 

 

 

 

Save Nandi Hills – love for the hills!

Save Nandi Hills – love for the hills!

The iconic Nandi Valley, about 60 Km from Bengaluru and 10 km from Chickballapura town is rich in biodiversity and heritage structures. It includes various hills from the Chikkaballapura range, including Nandi, Bramhagiri, Channagiril, Skandagiri and Avulabetta Hills.  There are several inlets and streams that feed into the ponds and kalyani on the top of the hill.

The Nandi Hill range is also the origin for Arkavati, Palaar, Chittavati, Dakshina Pinakini and Uttara Pinakini rivers, and for the water with medicinal properties that flows through them. Deforestation combined with sand and quarry mining and reduced rainfall has altered the picturesque Nandi Hills and threatens to change its landscape forever.

Save Nandi Hills Campaign

Recognizing the urgent need to protect the heritage, biodiversity and natural resources of Nandi Hills, United Way Bengaluru initiated a holistic Save Nandi Campaign. This campaign, initiated in 2016 is being implemented as a partnership between the Govt. of Karnataka, District Administration of Chikkaballapur, the Forest, Tourism and Horticulture Departments, and Nandi Panchayat.

The Save Nandi Hills Campaign has built awareness on conservation of ecology and heritage through public events such as Nandi Hillathon and Nandi Habba. The events were organised with the aim of inspiring the people of Bengaluru to participate and create a sustainable, zero-carbon footprint platform for tourism. Athletes from across the world and locally, attended the events.

The campaign, which is ongoing, will enable the following as a long-term commitment towards conserving Nandi Hills:

  • Enhance bio-diversity through volunteerism for tree plantation drives and seed ball throwing initiatives: The seeds were native and forest-based and suited for planting on Nandi Hills. Fertile red soil, manure, cow dung was used to make the seed balls engaging volunteers from various companies. 2000 saplings of native fruit and flower bearing species have been planted since the campaign began. This has also discouraged the proliferation of Eucalyptus, which is known to be harmful to soil and water. General public was also invited for the events.
  • Gundutopu and kalyani restoration: Sultanpet village which was once a battlefield is in the valley. It holds a unique social forest with tall and old trees and the space served for the community to gather. It is now in bad shape and dumped with garbage and overgrown with weeds. Work is one to revive it. There is also an ancient kalyani in the area which is being revived.
  • Restore water bodies in and Nandi Hills through low-cost, traditional methods: Nandi Hills has unique water body systems in the form of kalyanis. Being the origin for five rivers, there are nine kalyanis that support these. One such kalyani is named Paataala Ganga which receives the rain water and filters the same underground through a sand bed and feeds the next kalyani downstream named Amrut Sarovara. This was obstructed with silt and choking Paataala Ganga. The feeder canals have been cleaned and water is now flowing into the Paataala Ganga, which is now bringing the water level up in the Amrut Sarovara.
  • Restoration of Nandi LakeNandi Lake, which is in the valley of the chain of Nandi Hills, was in a decrepit shape. Uncontrolled removal of soil and dumping of waste and debris had destroyed the lake. UWBe, with the approval and endorsement of the District Administration and Zilla Panchayat took up a scientific study of the lake and devised a contour map and the lake is now getting new shape. The feeder canals blocked for several years are now cleared and will allow rainwater to flow into the lake.
  • Improve community education, health and livelihood for local communities: In order to help local communities gain health, education and livelihood and to help them to avoid migrating, UWBe has initiated several initiatives. Rooftop rainwater harvesting is probably the most important. With the objective to collect rain water for drinking and household purposes, UWBe has supported 350 families with rooftop rainwater harvesting structures. Each unit has the capacity to collect 4000 litres of water which in a given rain year will collect about 12000 ltrs. The families are now water secure. They were otherwise struggling to fetch water from common sources which were getting depleted.

In the future:

  • Watershed for farmlands: Under this project 150 farmers will be supported for farm bunding, bund plantation and organic farming.
  • Waste management: This is aimed to keeping the hill clean and tide by collecting, segregating and recycling the waste
  • Restoration of armory: There is a armoury on the hill top will is being surveyed for renovation to keep it as a heritage spot.
  • Construction of public toilet at Nandi Village: To ensure public health and hygiene, we will be constructing toilets at Nandi Village.

In partnership with: