The Khatpewadi Lake near Pune will get artificial plant beds to provide safe habitat for birds and amphibians. In a first-of-its-kind experiment in nature conservation, the initiative will be taken under Mission Ramnadi Restoration, a programme initiated by city NGOs.
The lake would have floating structures made from PVC pipes to form a bed hosting plants, native grass and sedges. The aim is to provide microhabitat for resident and migratory birds. “At present, there is less biodiversity observed in the lake and surrounding areas. The priority is to increase biodiversity. Interventions to increase the green cover by identifying the species of trees that historically existed and restoring them would be done,” said Ketaki Ghate, from OIKOS, an organization that works for ecological restoration.
Ghate said other work like cleaning the ecological body, reshaping the banks, creating islands and introduction of aquatic flora would be done.
Another environmentalist, Sachin Punekar, said that apart from such steps, another way could be to introduce floating habitats for the wetland. “Nature will take its own time to restore, but we can boost the process by introducing free-floating river beds or rafts,” he added.
The pond is already a habitat for resident birds like cormorants, darter, large egret, woolly neck stork and other migratory birds like a sandpiper, red water lapwing, Riverton, Brahmi duck and common teal.
Meanwhile, the work on the restoration of Ramnadi would start with 12,000 students from different colleges and 100 volunteers working on nine stretches of the 18 km long river.
Virendra Chitrav, coordinator of Kirloskar Vasundhara Mission Ramnadi Restoration, said, “Each stretch has different requirements for restoration starting from lake rejuvenation to water conservation, bio-remedies and solving waste management issues.”
Chitrav added that works would be conducted in coordination with Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) for protection of banks, terrace gardens, creating green corridors, awareness programmes and measuring the health of the water.
“Volunteers will undergo orientation sessions to understand the ecosystem of the river, its specific requirements and areas of intervention before work actually begins,” said Shaileja Deshpande, director of Jeevitnadi.
“The task of restoring the Ramnadi has been taken up by the locals and NGOs from the city. The work would require interventions at different levels,” said Ganesh Sonune, ward officer of Warje-Karve Nagar ward. “It would be made sure that all the entities and stakeholder work in tandem for the work. Coordination with the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), gram panchayat and Pune Metropolitan Region Development Authority (PMRDA) would be conducted to ensure that efforts lead to success.”