Swachh Sabarmati Abhiyan
“The day you decide to pick up the garbage instead of turning away from it, you begin your conservation journey” – Dinesh Kumar Gautam (Founder – Drishti Foundation Trust)
Sabarmati, once home to Gandhi – The man who envisioned a free, clean and prosperous India is now just a lifeless river. We at DFT, are the true believers of his principles and intend to realize his dream of clean India, and hence, bringing the river back to life is our tribute to him.
I am happy to present the story of the Swachh Sabarmati clean-up which was organized on 28th March 2018. Although controlling river pollution caused by municipal sewage or toxic industrial effluents may be the responsibility of local bodies or state agencies, we at DFT believe that it’s a collective responsibility of all to take care of the river streams which have been supporting numerous lives and livelihoods for ages. With the support of ONGC (Ahmedabad) – Our CSR partner, District administration (Ahmedabad), Irrigation Department (Ahmedabad), and Forest department (Ahmedabad) we started our year-long journey of cleaning river Sabarmati that resulted in the removal of around 600 tons of waste and restoration of biodiversity. The successful completion of the Swachh Sabarmati project is one of the major milestones in the journey of team
DFT which would always motivate us to continue our mission of working for a better tomorrow!
How life-line turned lethal
Sabarmati which is known as the lifeline of Ahmedabad and has been sustaining the lives of numerous people has turned lethal due to the toxins released by the human and industrial activities into the river stream. The untreated sewage along with the industrial effluent mixing into the stagnant river water has led to the decline in the water quality which has not only affected agricultural activities but also the communities dependent upon the river for life and livelihoods. The polluted water has been declared unfit for irrigation and human consumption due to the presence of E.Coli which is a bacteria present in the human and animal excreta. The harm isn’t limited to just the humans as the ecosystem around the river bank has been equally affected. The fishes and the birds which are generally found near the marsh have been migrating to other locations.
Human activities such as dumping cremation remains and disposing of the waste from the temples are the main causes that have affected the quality of the river water over the years. Besides waste dumping, in the river water, invasive plant species such as water hyacinths have led to a decrease in the O2 level of the river and water contamination to its highest level leaving the major portion of the river as a mass of floating debris, chemical discharge, and non-biodegradable waste such as plastics, wrappers, etc.
Breathing life into the life-line
The sight of the dismal state of the river while clicking pictures for her Geography project sparked an idea in the youngest member of team DFT – Miss Drishti Gautam who decided to make the river clean in reality instead of just making it look good in the picture and that’s how the Swachh Sabarmati clean up drive came about on 28th March 2018 in association with ONGC, Gujarat forest department, District administration Ahmedabad
Program area – French well to Sabarmati riverfront (Upstream area) Duration – 1 Year
The clean-up was executed in 4 phases
Phase – 1
Clean-up of floating garbage from the river belt from French well to Sabarmati riverfront (Upstream area) in which the floating wastes such as the construction debris, medical waste, Offerings from the temple were sieved out
Phase – 2
Clean-up from Indira bridge to Mahadev temple was carried out wherein DFT volunteers and ONGC employees assisted the clean-up drive by manually separating the waste from the temples such as flowers, submerged idols, etc. and other waste
Clean-up from Koteshwar Mahadev temple to Pumping station included manual removal of Water hyacinth and semi-dry garbage through JCB
Phase – 4
Clean-up from the Pumping station to the Torrent powerhouse was conducted in the presence of the senior officials from ONGC, team DFT, the Irrigation Department, the forest department, and DFT volunteers. Dry waste from the river bank was swept out
Post-clean-up plantation – Saplings of various indigenous species such as Mango, Cheeku, Neem, Peepal, Badam, etc. were planted by the officials present during the cleanup near the riverbank throughout the year followed by plantations during Vanmahotsav and Swachh Sabarmati anniversary in the following years.
More than 600 Tons of garbage was been removed from the river bed. Dry and wet wastes such as temple offerings, invasive plant species, non-degradable material such as polythene, etc. were removed manually with the support of irrigation department workers, and silt and minute waste particles were scooped out by JCB.
The clean-up has not only resulted in the rejuvenation of the river but has also restored the habitat and natural biodiversity around the area.
Around 600 tons of garbage was been removed from the river.
Post-clean-up view of the river Sabarmati
Sujalam Sufalam Jal Sanchay Abhiyan
To support the Gujarat government’s efforts in making Gujarat a drought-free state under Sujalam Sufalam Jal Sanchay Abhiyan, in 2019, DFT with the support of ONGC had organised the clean-up of a river and a pond in the villages of Dholka,Ahmedabad and Gandhinagar Talluka adopted by it. After gifting a new life to the ponds DFT breathe in a new life into river Sabarmati – The life line of Ahmedabad through Swacch Sabarmati clean-up in association with ONGC. Around 600 tonnes of waste was removed from the river and around 130 bird species were restored.
Project Hathijan Biodiversity Park
DFT embarked on a journey of planting a million saplings with Ami thakkar (Group Landmark) at Hathijan biodiversity park where around 10,000 saplings were planted under #SankalpParyavaran
UN Decade of ecological restoration – To avert the climate crisis and restore the ecological balance within the next 10 years, DFT has initiated a series of projects and campaigns that would support the UN in its efforts towards conservation, restoration and creating awareness about them through projects such as:
Mission Million Trees – DFT embarked on a journey of planting a million saplings with Ami Thakkar (Landmark Honda) at Hathijan biodiversity park where around 28,200 saplings were planted under #SankalpParyavaran
Kanbha pond restoration –
Plantation at Adalaj
Plantation at Hathijan
Plantation at Ahmedabad cantonment
Plantation at Kanbha
Plantation at STP, Pirana
Plantation at Jodhpur
Plantation with Bennett Coleman
& Co. Ltd.
Plantation with IndusInd bank
Plantation with PWC
Plantation with Amity University
Plantation with Deloitte
Plantation with GMPB
Plantation with Piramal Pharma
Plantation with Railway police at the railway colony
Plantation with Ahmedabad police at Vatva
Vulture Café at Pirana
What started as a café with a few hesitant visitors is now a busy restaurant with more than around 80 – 100 repeat visitors. DFT vulture cafés are built on trees where the birds can alight and food can be served. The menu includes the cattle carcasses and other animal carcasses which are Diclofenac free. My curiosity for the birds and the love for photographing them led me to this spot flocked by rare vultures and a variety of birds found swirling over a tree. On my next visit to the Vasna Barej, I came to know that it was a vulture café maintained by DFT said Rohan, a bird enthusiast and a budding wildlife photographer, is seen frequenting to DFT vulture café and paying to feed the vultures.
The vulture café, is maintained by Preet (DFT appointed care taker) –a local of the village who brings the carcasses of the animals from the village or from the road mishaps to be hung on the branches. “Sometimes people pay me to feed the vultures. This has not only increased the no. of vultures and eagles at the spot but has also increased the no. of other rare bird species which are otherwise falling prey to the road accidents and toxic chemicals in their food chain”.
The spot for the café was chosen after a survey done to locate the most frequented place by the birds. You can visit DFT vulture café if bird spotting or photographing them interests you. To visit the bird watcher’s paradise, call us or WhatsApp us at 9873522666.
Skit on Bapu on 2nd October
DFT celebrated Gandhi Jayanti with ‘Bapu’ at the Ahmedabad Railway station.
Gandhi’s thoughts which are revered worldwide are mostly remembered and celebrated on 2nd October, but unfortunately they fade into oblivion soon. This October, on the 152nd birth anniversary of Bapu, to present his thoughts in a different light and engage more people with them, DFT had organized a skit on his imaginary visit to Ahmedabad and his thoughts on witnessing the improvement in the state of affairs of the city as compared to a few years back when the condition of the roads and the rivers were worrisome.
The skit was performed by DFT Green Champ – Bhawik Gautam at the Ahmedabad railway station which concluded with the message of making plantation and cleanliness drive a regular practice instead of using them as celebration ideas for special occasions. The skit was followed by sapling distribution at the station with the chairman of Railway Board – Mr. Ramesh Chandra and DRM, Western Railways, Ahmedabad – Mr. Tarun Jain.
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