Successful application of a key technique used in agriculture to store water in arid areas has prevented recurrence of last year’s massive flood in Baner-Balewadi-Aundh on Wednesday.
For years, the system — construction of continuous contour trench — has been used in several countries, including India, for watershed management that also prevents soil erosion. Replicating the model was not easy, but several members of a non-governmental organisation took it up on themselves since the floods of September 25, 2019.
When last week, most city areas were pounded by heavy rains, hundreds of Baner-Balewadi-Aundh residents heaved a sigh of relief, as there was hardly any prolonged waterlogging, unlike previous years.
Panduraj Bhujbal, a member of NGO Vasundhara Abhiyana, said, “Last year, the damage in our area has been massive and we realised something must be done to prevent recurrence. We started digging up deep CCTs to block flow of water and lakhs of litres of water were stored. We are 100 per cent sure the prevention of floods happened majorly because of the work we have done. We have dug several CCTs that are two-feet deep, through which water easily percolates. This also helps in preventing soil erosion. Little to no work has been done by the government authorities to control damage after heavy rains.”
Around 800 members of Vasundhara Abhiyan have been toiling on the hills of Baner every day in the last year. They had started work on CCTs to stop flow of water from the tekdi, which is spread over 40 acres.
Another volunteer, Chandu Dighe, added, “The prevention of floods is the fruit of our efforts. It’s advance planning that has helped us this year and we have not taken help of any government body in doing the same — be it manpower or money. The hills are entirely looked after by us.”
Environmentalists and officials from Pune Municipal Corporation have lauded their efforts, saying this can be the reason that many areas remained unaffected last week. Mangesh Dighe, head of the environment department at PMC, said, “It is true that the Baner-Balewadi area this year didn’t face any trouble and a lot of credit can be given to the organisation for carrying out the CCT activity. This certainly helps to a certain extent to prevent the water flow.”
Gurudas Nulkar, the trustee of Ecological Society and professor at Symbiosis Centre for Management Studies, added, “A further study about this will help understand the issue in-depth. But it’s true CCTs help in percolation and control soil erosion. These also prevent flooding.”