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Ujjain IAS Officer Restores Historic Pond With 125 Volunteers, No Govt Fund


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Anshul Gupta, a 2016-batch officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) grew to become commissioner of the Ujjain Municipal Company, Madhya Pradesh in late 2021. 

One of many first duties he undertook was to revive a once-dilapidated pond known as Yam Talaiya on the outskirts of the temple metropolis Ujjain, positioned on the banks of the Kshipra River. Measuring 4.2 acres, it’s a secondary pond which flows from the first Vishnu Sagar Talab and channels from close by farm fields.

This was as soon as a pond of nice significance to farmers residing close by and the Chitragupta Mandir, a Hindu temple related to the birthplace of Lord Chitragupta — the deity entrusted with preserving data of deeds dedicated by human beings of their sojourn on Earth.

Nonetheless, the pond suffered from years of negligence, leading to extra deposition, which in flip diminished its water-holding capability by a major margin.

There is history behind this historical pond restored by IAS officer
Historic pond (Picture courtesy EFI)

Making issues worse, invasive weeds started dominating native species, and encroachments from close by farm fields choked the very lifetime of this pond. In different phrases, what Commissioner Anshul Gupta discovered was a pond in determined want of restoration.

“Upon visiting the principle Vishnu Sagar Talab, I found a stark distinction between major and secondary ponds. I visited the temple as nicely, the place the resident priest informed me the importance of this temple from historical occasions. In previous excavations, historical idols have been discovered on the secondary pond, indicating the placement’s wealthy historic worth,” remembers Anshul Gupta, who was appointed commissioner in September 2021, chatting with The Higher India.

“The Yam Talaiya pond was completely dry and stuffed with mud and silt. Throughout my earlier posting as a CEO, Zila Panchayat, Umaria district, I had the expertise of restoring roughly 30 water our bodies below a wide range of authorities schemes. Given my expertise, I assumed I ought to do one thing for this vital pond. Following this website go to, I reached out to the Environmentalist Basis of India (EFI), a non-profit environmental conservation group,” he provides.

He requested them whether or not they might examine the positioning and give you a plan. In December 2021, the EFI organised a sequence of surveys, adopted by many rounds of discussions.

In shut session with Commissioner Gupta, they got here up with a “scientific, environment-friendly desilting and restoration plan”. To execute this plan, they invited different native non-profits, social organisations and even faculties via social media. Ultimately, round 125 volunteers turned up. Along with the EFI and native administration, they started the restoration course of.

Volunteers help IAS officer restore historical pond
Volunteer work (Picture courtesy EFI)

What’s extra, not a single rupee of presidency funds was used within the restoration course of. The volunteers engaged within the pond restoration, wall portray, plantation and even a documentary screening drive to sensitise the general public concerning the water physique. In the meantime, the whole value of restoring the pond, amounting to Rs 60 lakh, was raised via a wide range of initiatives.

Whereas Rs 10 lakh was raised via CSR (company social accountability) funds, the remainder got here from a wide range of personal donations.

How an IAS officer helped restore a historical pond
Earlier than and After: Restoration of the historic pond (Picture courtesy EFI)

Strategy of restoration

It started with de-weeding and rubbish removing. In keeping with a January 2023 doc that EFI shared with The Higher India, “The pond’s periphery and mattress have been coated with invasive weed species, which have been dominating the native plant. They have been eliminated utilizing excavators. Roughly 0.75 acres of the world have been cleared,” it famous.

This was adopted by desilting. “A median of 4 ft of silt was eliminated utilizing excavators. Desilting of the pond additional helps in rising the storage capability and enhancing the groundwater percolation charge,” the doc famous.

What did they do with extra silt excavated from the pond’s floor? It was shifted to the periphery to strengthen the embankments, which have been raised to a median of 12 ft. This may assist in rising the water-holding capability and mitigate floods throughout heavy rainfalls.

“New embankments have been constructed for a size of 540 metres, which is able to outline the boundary of the water physique and forestall encroachments,” the doc famous. As well as, sedimentary wells for one acre have been excavated to seize the silt from the runoff, in order that the clear water will move into the principle pond. To assist regularise the overflow, an earthen weir was constructed.

In the meantime, in response to the EFI doc, “two recharge wells have been [also] constructed with a slim channel which helps in recharging the groundwater.”

Going additional, nesting islands have been additionally constructed to facilitate the habitation of wildlife of the pond like swans, geese, fishes, turtles, peacocks, squirrels, and many others. These islands act as a breeding floor for varied bugs, reptiles and birds within the pond.

However to make sure these restoration efforts don’t go in useless, a wide range of civil works have been additionally carried out — like repairs on the walkway, the prevailing ghat, and the development of a picket bridge to cross the inlet channel. Stone pitching on the highway and aspect bund was additionally carried out to cut back soil erosion. To stop encroachment and strong waste dumping, protecting fencing was put in.

IAS restores historical Pond with volunteers
Restoration of the world across the historic pond (Picture courtesy EFI)

After restoration

In April 2022, the Authorities of India launched Mission Amrit Sarovar. This specific mission is aimed toward growing and rejuvenating 75 water our bodies in every district of the nation.

In Might, the Ujjain Municipal Company determined to make use of this pond for example to construct the primary Amrit Sarovar of Madhya Pradesh. After eight months of effort, the restoration work helped elevate the water-holding capability of the pond by virtually a 3rd (further 22,800,000 litres) from its authentic 67,989,600 litres, in response to Commissioner Gupta.

“The Yam Talaiya (flowing from Vishnu Sagar) pond, which was as soon as overtaken by weeds, extreme silt deposition and had weak structural integrity, is now restored to assist the lifeforms that depend upon it. The latest monsoons have introduced the pond again to life with wildlife thriving. The pond now holds extra water and wildlife than it did up to now,” he claims.

“The scrap desilting method utilized by EFI has the distinctive profit that solely one-fourth of the pond will face siltation sooner or later. Total, nonetheless, over 100 residents, together with farmers residing close to the pond, benefitted from the rising groundwater desk, in addition to the inflow of a wide range of birds and reptiles, and many others. Additionally, the variety of pilgrims visiting this temple has risen to about 5,000 as nicely. This has already improved native tourism within the space,” he provides.

(Edited by Pranita Bhat)

(Photos courtesy EFI and Anshul Gupta, IAS)

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