Gurgaon: Pictures of cars in bonnet-deep water on Golf Course Road had flooded the Internet during the monsoon last year. Rainwater had gushed into one of its seven underpasses and the city’s central boulevard — a totem of both its achievements and ambitions — was subsumed by its chornic drainage problem.
This year, Golf Course Road was the silver lining in the flooding that followed Monday’s rainfall in most other parts of the city. The road ans its underpasses were not affected by monsoon’s first heavy rainfall, an early indication that a move by GMDA and IAMGurgaon, an NGO, to build four drainage channels to divert water flowing from the Aravalis into natural creeks had been successful. Experts, however, said they would wait to see if the plan would stand up to heavy rain.
The four drainage channels have been built in sectors 26, 42, 54 and 56. The water from these drains flow into the natural creeks, which have been widened and made deeper to hold more water. Since these creeks are at a higher elevation, they absorbed much of the rainwater on Monday and stopped it from flowing into Golf Course Road. This also reduced pressure on the Badshahpur drain.
“The move has reduced stormwater runoff by almost 50%. In Gurgaon, flooding never occurred only because of the runoff from the Aravalis. We had to identify the bottlenecks in the natural creeks, make them wider and deeper so that they could hold more water. This took pressure off the Badshahpur drain, which gets flooded during the monsoon and inundates the nearby areas,”said Subhas Yadav, nodal officer (environment and sustainability wing) at GMDA.
Several native species, such as Pilkhan, Goolar, Neem, Baheda and Arjun, have also been planted around these creeks so that the soil doesn’t become loose and the embankments don’t give away.
The brain behind the move is a team of researchers from the Teri School of Advanced Studies. After last year’s flooding, GMDA had commissioned the Teri school a three-month study to find out the reasons and ways to stop water flowing from the higher reaches into Golf Course Road.
“We carried out a survey between September and December last year and shared our findings and recommendations with the GMDA. They acted upon them immediately and the result is there for you to see this monsoon. However, our study was restricted to Golf Course Road,” said Fawzia Tarannum, assistant professor at the department of regional water studies at the TERI school.
Latika Thukral of IAMGurgaon explained why the decision to make the creeks deeper would work this monsoon. “The Gurgaon-Faridabad highway and MG Road are 200 metres above Golf Course Road. So, rainwater would invariably gush into Golf Course Road. Now that the creeks have been made wider and deeper, they have a good capacity to carry the stormwater. The sand and silt at the bed of these creeks would also allow seepage,” she added.
Environmentalists, however, said they would adopt a wait and watch policy to see if the plan holds its ground during heavy rain. “GMDA should get experts to review the plan. They should plant long grass along the creeks so that the soil doesn’t become loose and water seeps into it. We are not sure if the plan will work in case of heavy rain. Let’s see,” said Vaishali Rana Chandra, an environmentalist. Residents, meanwhile, heaved a sigh of relief to see Golf Course Road unaffected by Monday’s rain. “This is a nice initiative by GMDA. Their plan has saved our area from getting flooded this time,” said Rahul Chandola, a resident of DLF 1.Read More
KOLKATA: Souryadeep Basak from Kolkata and Lavkesh Balchandani from Indore,classmates at Teri School of Advanced Studies, have won a bronze in the grand final of the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge, a prestigious global, multi-disciplinary competition that empowers teams of university students to help accelerate clean energy access.
The duo, who became engineers in 2018 and are currently pursuing Masters in Renewable Energy Engineering & Management, have designed a community level solar-powered hydroponic fodder unit for rural areas. The model developed by Basak and Balchandani essentially uses soil-less technology to accelerate cultivation of green fodder. “A combination of passive solar cultivation, evaporative cooling and hydroponics (agriculture using water and nutrients) to grow 6-8kg of green fodder from 1kg seeds. This will lead to the improvement of the rural economy by reducing dependence on agriculture,” Basak said.
It was news of farmer suicides that prompted them to take up the project. “Since farmers are dependent on agricultural income that depends on increasingly erratic weather patterns, they suffer losses. Our model aims to build resilience in the rural economy by diversifying their income,” explained Balchandani.
What the two classmates intended to do was feed the green fodder grown using hydroponics instead of agricultural waste to improve their nourishment and increase milk productivity that can then be sold. To supplement income further, they propose use of the agri-waste to cultivate mushrooms that can be dried and stored for sale and production of exotic vegetables and herbs, fruits and flowers in greenhouses. Basak and Balchandani have set up a prototype at Teri (The Energy and Resources Institute) SAS. After completing the Masters, Basak intends to do a PhD on the project and set up a pilot study in a village near Canning that is among the places most vulnerable to climate change.
“I want to do the study in a village with 200 cows, of which 100 will be given the green fodder diet and the rest continue on the agri-waste feed. This will help find out how much milk production improves. The aim is to start community level development with preference to widows of farmers who have committed suicide due to agriculture distress,” explained Basak.Read More
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Gurugram : At 7am everyday, 45-year-old Chandni walks three kilometres from her house in Nathupur to Labour Chowk , and sits on a pavement hoping to get some work at a construction site. For the past nine days, she has had to return empty-handed. “I hope to get lucky today,” she said.
Chandni, a native of Murshidabad district in West Bengal, had been working as a domestic help in DLF-Phase 3 area for several years till the Covid-19-induced lockdown restricted the entry of domestic helpers.
“I could not go to West Bengal as I had to look after my five children. I managed to get by for a couple of months. Since last week, I have been coming here to look for bricklaying work,” she said.
Like Chandni, many factory workers, bus drivers, guards, auto-rickshaw drivers, tent house workers, among scores of others, who lost their jobs, have been forced to take up daily wage work. With limited job options, they stand on the road stretching from Sikanderpur Metro Station to Bristol Chowk among hundreds of others, hoping to find work at a construction site or a warehouse, which would pay ?500-800 for eight hours’ work.
Anna Naali, a resident of Chakkarpur, was a school bus driver before he was laid off. “The schools are now closed and classes are online. I was earning ?16,000 a month as a bus driver. I have been coming to Labour Chowk for work for the past two months. Every alternate day, I manage to find some construction work, which pays 500-600. I would like to go back to driving once things normalise,” he said.
According to a United Nations estimate, by the end of the year, half a billion people globally may be pushed into destitution, largely, because of the pandemic. The most vulnerable among them are the poor with no or limited access to unemployment assistance or healthcare. Though the industries and construction services have resumed operations in the city, lack of demand, supply chain problems and a host of external factors mean that the economic activity is yet to take off.
RETURN OF THE MIGRANTS
As per the local trade unions and government department estimates, around 400,000 to 500,000 people, particularly construction workers and daily wagers, had migrated to their home states due to the lockdown. Several, who had gone to their respective native states and returned to the city recently, stare at an uncertain future.
Bihar resident Rahul is one of those. “I worked with a tent house in Wazirabad and was let go after the business suffered,” he said. “I went back to my village in Kisanganj in April. I returned in May and have been looking for a job since then. This labour work is not viable in the long run, but I have limited options.”
With most private companies and IT firms still closed, Metro not plying and not many people visiting malls, auto-drivers have been forced to either sell fruits and vegetables or work as daily wagers to earn their living.
According to an estimate by Haryana Auto Chalak Sangh, a state-wide body, around 1,000 auto owners have either converted their vehicles into makeshift vending carts or have hired push carts to do this work and they can spotted on major arterial roads in the city.
Faheem, who was selling pineapples near Tau Devi Lal park in Sector 22 says that most of them stay in rented rooms and have to pay ?2,000 as rent per person and the cost of food also touches ?3000 a month. “There are hardly any passengers on the road. Earlier, we used to earn ?500 to ?600 daily, but that is not possible now,” he says.
As per the Haryana Auto Chalak Sangh, over 70% of the autos in the city have been financed by private players. “The owners have to pay interest and this is a major burden as the state government has not announced any relief for our members,” said Yogesh Sharma, state general secretary of the association.
WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT DOING?
Last week, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had announced that the state cabinet had passed a draft of an ordinance to address unemployment of local population on priority basis.
The ordinance aims at reserving 75% of new jobs with salaries less than ?50, 000 a month in private firms, societies, trusts, limited liability partnership firms and partnership firms for local youths.
Amit Khatri, deputy commissioner, Gurugram, said, “A number of steps have been taken to help the workers. These include government schemes, such as MGNREGA and other measures. We are aware about the issues being faced by migrant workers. The state government is providing assistance in both cash and kind.”
Dr Manipadma Datta, vice-chancellor, TERI School of Advanced Studies, and the head of the department of business sustainability, said that although some labourers have returned in desperation, they are facing difficulties as the economy remains under stress. “Workers from nearby areas, such as western UP, have arrived again but the distress is not going to ease as cities and economies remain under lockdown. The government policies have not been able to revive either the primary or the tertiary sectors,” he said.
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