The Satsang Foundation – Bangalore center implemented an integrated project of Satsang Jal Seva Sangatan (SJSS) and MyTree at the Environmental Sciences Department of Bangalore University(BU), in 2021-22.
The initiative was the result of a request made by Prof. B. C. Nagaraja, The Head of the Environmental Science department at BU to The Satsang Foundation volunteer asking for assistance to establish a rainwater harvesting facility to sustain the flora and fauna in the surroundings.
The Environmental Sciences department of Bangalore University is at the tail end of the university campus beyond which lies the Vrishabhavati river. All the rainwater in and around the department flows into this river. However, because a lot of the city’s sewage is also connected to the river, the rainwater goes to waste, since it flows into what is essentially the sewage of the city.
Prof. Nagaraja suggested a 3-pronged approach to avoid wasting rainwater. He suggested the construction of 3 percolation wells in the vicinity of the department, building a pond and channels leading up to it and the construction of a rainwater harvesting system for the building. This would lead the rain and surface water to the ground through the percolation wells and pond. He also requested the The Satsang Foundation team to re-commission an existing sump as part of a complete solution.
The team worked diligently over a period of a year, coordinating with multiple stakeholders and taking several steps to divert the rainwater into the ground by working with Indus Herbs, who are experts in the field, who helped with the construction.
Since the vast area surrounding this site was also highly suitable for planting trees, the harvested rainwater could be used to irrigate the saplings. The integrated project was implemented in several phases:
1. 800 tree saplings, all of varieties native to the area, have been planted in five phases.
2. Three percolation wells were built close to the department.
3. A Terrace Rainwater Harvesting System was installed in the department building itself. Moreover, a pre-existing sump was completely scrubbed and cleaned, and several pieces of glass were also removed from the sump. It was covered with a mesh and a net to prevent leaves and debris from falling into it.
4. To help hold the rainwater, a large pond was created on the premises, and lined with stone rivets and a toe wall. Two channels were built to bring the rainwater into the pond and into the nearby percolation wells.
The total cost of the project was Rs. 6.63 Lakhs which was contributed by several individuals and corporates who shared the vision of SJSS and MyTree.
Bangalore University plans to add another 17 check dams to the existing 6 check dams on the campus. With these measures, it is expected that the water table will rise by 2 metres in the campus.
This initiative was an example of what team effort and a vision to make a change can achieve. The SJSS and MyTree Bengaluru Team will be happy to share learnings from this year-long activity with anyone interested. They would also like to action similar initiatives at other places that need them most.
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