The project offered us an opportunity to bring substantial change through our work to the local environment and the lives of people living around these waterbodies
This is the final of a two-part series. The first part can be read here
Noble intentions need to be married with a practical approach to create opportunities and deliver results in the real world. Having ideas for sustainable development projects is a very comfortable space to be. But when you are in the government system, one has to figure out the ways to get things done within the constraints of limited finance and administrative hurdles.
For me and my team, the step after feasibility documentation was to prepare DPR (design, drawings and estimates) so that funds could be sanctioned from the government, tenders could be called for, contractors could be appointed and restoration works started on the ground.
But things are easier said than done. It was really tough for a start up to qualify and be appointed as a consulting firm and constantly compete with large organisations to get through.
However, hard work, persistence and patience finally paid off and we were appointed by the Municipal Corporation Faridabad to prepare DPR of 22 water bodies in city in 2019.
Initially in our listing, 22 water bodies were identified as being feasible for restoration. Later on, two more were added in 2020 by the National Green Tribunal in the case OA no. 392/2019 Mahesh Kumar vs State of Haryana & Others.
Of the 24 waterbodies, the DPRs of four were made by Smart City Faridabad, one was prepared by Manav Rachna University and those of the remaining 19 waterbodies were prepared by our firm.
These 19 DPRs were prepared in two phases: Eight were prepared in the first phase and were based on high cost models. The remaining 11 were prepared on low cost models during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown in 2020.
One water body site has been voluntarily taken up by the GIFT Foundation for restoration based on our design proposal.
When we started preparing the DPRs in 2019, we found ourselves in doldrums as was the case during the feasibility study due to unavailability of any sample DPR, clear set of guidelines and previous restoration models.
Every water body site comes with a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Hence, we had to be creative to draw inspiration from references (like the Rajokri model and Neela Hauz in Delhi) and work out solutions that were most suitable in our context by breaking down proposal into various design components and thinking afresh.
By that time, the Haryana Pond Authority was also actively engaging with municipalities and we had to creatively manoeuvre through a set of guidelines from multiple institutions.
The concept design for the Budena water body in Faridabad city that was prepared by the author and his team. Photo: Shashwat
While preparing the DPR, each water body site has to be visited multiple times and analysed properly from multiple perspectives. One has to get comfortable with the location as well as the surroundings including the physical context as well as local people.
The easiest way to do this is to walk around, take photos, note down unique features and issues along with locals and their representatives.
Before making a proposal, diagnosing the problem is very important as well as the need assessment so that the restored water body site can act as a catalyst for change from the environment point of view as well as social lifestyle and behaviour.
The key points to be noted during visits are the availability of land, garbage dumping, religious structures, present and past uses, future prospects, inflow, quality and quantity of waste water, existing vegetation, birds, aquatic species, etc.
While preparing designs one has to work over various design components like boundary fencing, green belt periphery, walking track, pond profile, sloping embankment, public ghat, cattle ghat, water inflow, sedimentation tank, wetland filtration, overflow provision, reuse tank, etc.
A very fine line between the standardisation of design and customisation according to the site has to be drawn while working over pond model components.
The layout of the pond profile, along with walking track and green belt should be in a way that it is suitable for the available land and not dependant on future actions of the government to remove encroachments so that project doesn’t get stalled at any given time.
If the government successfully removes encroachments, wins legal battles or demolishes any existing structure in the future, such portions can always be developed as green belts and integrated into the existing proposal.
Various sets of drawings need to be prepared in order to detail the proposal and produce it in an appropriate technical format for estimation, tendering as well as restoration or construction on the ground.
These drawings are: Concept plan, civil works, public health, horticulture, elevations, sections, constructed wetland, sedimentation tank, reuse tank, etc.
Many other drawings are also drafted, showing details of boundary fencing, retaining walls, toe walls, filtration chambers, railings, etc.
These drawings have to be supported with supporting information like legends, demarcation lines, grids, dimensions, levels, etc, so that they are sufficient in themselves and have enough information to work upon as required.
We have prepared the DPRs of the 19 waterbodies and are in the tendering process at the moment. There is always a scope of improvement and there are many other initiatives that can be taken up for such assignments in the future.
One such idea is to develop a framework for parametric designs (as the whole design process is based on a set of parameters) so that a standardised design mechanism can be developed, along with a scope for customisation.
Another idea is to prepare the whole design proposal on the BIM (building information modelling) platform so that instead of drafting in 2Dimensional, the design model is prepared in 3Dimensional, with all information flowing as data sets.
Yet another idea is to upload all design and drawings on a digital cloud computing platform so that it is available online for key stakeholders involved in the project.
After preparing design proposals for a series of water bodies, one gains confidence and all design proposals are more or less the same. But there are always surprises waiting in the corners.
Each site has its set of challenges and unique features and therein lies the beauty of creative professionals’ skills: How they treat it as an opportunity to bring substantial change through their work to the local environment and the lives of people living around these waterbodies.
Shashwat is an architect and founder of Development 2050, who works for climate resilient sustainable development projects. He can be contacted at email@example.com
Views expressed are the author’s own and don’t necessarily reflect those of Down To Earth
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