Monday, June 8, 2009

Bridge over the Neela Hauz

Though I live only a few kms away, I first heard of the Neela Hauz only when this sign board was helpfully put up at one of the entrances to Sanjay Van - the remaining forested portion of the ridge bounded by JNU and other academic and research institutions, the Qutub institutional area and Mehrauli

This hauz - one of the many rainwater harvesting structures that dotted this area - is no longer blue, overridden as it is, with water hyacinth. Residents of Mehrauli remember diving and swimming it its waters, 30 years back. Some years back, there was apparently a plan to 'revive' this water body - but that seems to have been quietly shelved. The 2010 commonwealth games opened up the possibility of an "infrastructure" project - a bridge over the dying Neela Hauz. The construction is taking its toll of the hauz; the water body is not seen as an integral part of the development but more as an engineering obstacle to be bridged. The development is the highway - wide and straight and ready for speeding traffic between airport and the city center.

The irony is that even as the Government pushes rain water harvesting in cramped buildings through penalties and concessions, large existing rain water harvesting structures are being allowed to die. Development is always seen as building/constructing something new with a large budget in hand. But what about maintaining and improving what is existing? What about preserving and improving a forest with all its existing bio-diversity? Uninteresting perhaps to the bureaucrat when compared to a new "bio-diversity park"; but easier on the budget and a more sustainable approach if we are not going to be content with just a few museum peices.

Youth in action 4th June 2009

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