|Expert group discussion|
In continuation with my earlier blog on developing an alternate riverfront development approach as part of our Sustainably Smart Pune 2030 project, I would like to share some more insights.
As mentioned earlier, the river stretch near Omkareshwar temple consists of a Dhobi Ghat and two public gardens Nana Nani Park and Vartak Garden, and a few religious and heritage spaces. Our idea was that the riverfront development should compliment these existing spaces while focusing on improving the health of riverbed areas. For the same we thought of having discussions with the concerned experts.
Firstly we decided to meet Ketaki Ghate and Manasi Karandikar from Oikos for guiding us on plantation along the riverbed. Both Ketaki and Manasi are experts in restoration works and our riverbed areas require sound restoration strategy instead of planting some random tree species or having landscaped lawns.
|Dhobi Ghat near Omkareshwar Stretch|
According to Ketaki, preference should be given to indigenous trees, that have both aesthetic and ecological attributes. It is important to note that exotic tree species are not bad but they should be selected carefully otherwise they can cause weeding and dominate over the native species hampering the local ecosystems. Tiered structure of plantation should be followed, where we have the trees then shrubs and then ground covers. There should be a good diversity in selecting tree species instead of monoculture. Hardscape areas can be negligible or if required should use local stone tiles like those seen in nature trails. Water requirements for this restoration works can be supplied through treatment plant set up for treating the wastewater from Dhobi Ghat as well as the one's set up for treating city's sewage. Tree species that can absorb additional impurities in the treated water can be used.
In order to maintain these areas, local gardeners can be employed since they have the expertise. Technological interventions can include timer based drippers for efficient water supply and use of motion sensor based LED light fixtures wherever required. These are some of the ideas brainstormed. However, in order to make this a reality, budget is needed for each activity and hence in our study we are working out a tentative budget for this stretch as well.
Other experts we met include Sayali Joshi from Shristi Eco Research Institute (SERI) who is currently working for Assi river in Varanasi. She made a striking statement that our river is in an ICU state and hence she should be treated immediately by ensuring there is no access to the river by anybody as a first step. This viewpoint was also supported by Swati Gole from Ecological society who also mentioned that public should not be allowed to access the river for anything until the river is restored.
I have seen people many a times throwing wastes, nirmalya and even food as part of some rituals in the river. I think its high time to change the way we look at our rivers and realize that they are the only source of potable water for us. Shailaja and team from Jeevitnadi are actively striving for the same through their work on river revival.
Stay tuned for more on these studies in the next blog!