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Know the Pondman of India Ramveer Tanwar, who revived Dasna Pond

Ramveer Tanwar, an engineer and environmentalist, known for his remarkable work in rejuvenating dried and dead ponds from garbage dump yards.

By B. Mohita
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Know about Ramveer Tanwar, the Pondman of India

The Chief Secretary of the Government of Uttar Pradesh, DS Mishra on Saturday tweeted pictures of the newly renovated Dasna pond in the Ghaziabad district of UP. The Dasna pond is yet another success story in the kitty of Ramveer Tanwar, popularly known as the “Pondman of India”. He was also praised for his work by the Prime Minister in one of his “Man Ki Baat” episodes, earlier this year. 

Ramveer Tanwar is an engineer and environmentalist based in Greater Noida. He is known for his remarkable work in rejuvenating dried and dead ponds which have turned into garbage dump yards. Further, he has been declared the Brand Ambassador of the Swachh Bharat Mission, Ghaziabad. He has also been appointed as the district coordinator of the ‘Bhujal-Sena, Noida(Groundwater Force)’ by the Government of Uttar Pradesh. 

Ramveer Tanwar has previously mentioned in one of his TEDx speeches that the village pond used to be his go-to place during childhood. As he grew older he saw more and more ponds in villages falling prey to urbanisation and the resulting encroachments. This pained him and he, along with his fellow classmates started a campaign called the Jal Chaupal or Water Meeting in the Gautam Buddha Nagar of Uttar Pradesh. Through this campaign, they urged people to conserve water and save the ponds around them. He later founded the Say Earth NGO. 

Jal Chaupal 

Jal Chaupal is an initiative to make people aware of the importance of water and various factors related to water scarcity in society. It becomes a ground for discussion on essential subjects like groundwater Water extraction, water pollution, rainwater harvesting, water budgeting, etc. Jal Chaupal has been proven the most important support tool for motivating people to be involved in pond restoration work.  

Exploring the affective forces for motivation, Tanveer says,

“We are trying to build an emotional connection between the villagers and water bodies. It will help them understand the importance of lakes and ponds and take the initiative to save them."

It was in 2015 that work to revive the first pond began. Ramveer and the volunteers removed garbage from the area and planted some trees around it. The idea gained momentum and soon people from other villages started seeking Ramveer’s help. Dozens of lakes and ponds have been revived since then. 

The process

Ramveer Tanwar believes that the most important issue in cleaning water bodies is to prevent further pollution after the water has been cleaned. In order to ensure that the garbage does not make its way to the pond, the team digs out a separate pit with a wooden mesh to collect garbage. A double filtration system is also installed with a filter made of wooden planks and a patch of different grasses. This system ensures that big and smaller pieces of garbage do not enter the pond. The volunteers clean these pits and filters once a week. 

The team has joined hands with fish farmers to raise 10,000 slush-eating fish which can stop fine particles from polluting the water body. 

Stages in revival

While taking note of the slope, depth and water retention capacity of the soil, the following steps are involved in the rejuvenation process:

  1. Meeting with locals, Survey and making a detailed project report
  2. Shifting of pond water, in the case of polluted pond
  3. Removing solid waste, hyacinth and sludge from the basin
  4. Construction of filter and digester chamber
  5. Beautification activity including plantation and boards
  6. Water Quality management
  7. Regular maintenance

Funding

Ramveer mentions that the revival of a pond takes anywhere between Rs. 2 to 25 lakhs. In order to make the plan financially sustainable, the team started reaching out to organizations to make use of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds. However, the most interesting part about each project is how the team engages local people to take agency of their water bodies and participate in the process of revival.

Impact 

Ramveer told The New Indian Express that over a period of six years, his team has revived over 38 ponds in Delhi-NCR. In addition, around 80 water bodies across the country, including Karnataka, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.

People from the Nain Kheri village in Saharanpur district where Ramveer has revived a native pond told Scroll about the monumental impact it has had on their lives.  These ponds had been a site for socio-cultural activities ever since they were children and were turning into dump yards in front of their eyes. However, their revival now enables fellow villagers to enjoy clean water. Biodiversity near the ponds has seen an upswing. Birds have started visiting again, and childhood memories have come alive. 

The Scroll also reported how Tanwar’s work in Gautam Buddha Nagar and the adjacent Delhi National Capital Region has had a larger impact too. Lake and pond conservation efforts have not only helped in recharging groundwater and creating awareness about water crisis and conservation. At the same time, his success stories have also brought the spotlight on conserving the Surajpur natural wetland, near his village Dadha. The wetland has even started witnessing the arrival of migratory birds. Forest officials have also taken note of his efforts and are actively saving the wetland from construction encroachments. 

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