Jyoti Sharma, President FORCE posted this in Environment Protection on March 29th, 2010

The Bridge over Neela Hauz is now nearly complete. I thought it was time to step up the pressure on PWD to remove the soil dumped in the lake. So I called up the Engineer-In-Charge of the project – Mr. Karunanidhi – to ask to meet with him. Before I could say anything he excitedly said, “Madam, I have been trying to call you for the past one week! I want to meet you – I have a surprise for you”

 

I met him on Friday evening and after talking for some time in his office, he took me down below the bridge to show me – “The Engineering Marvel that this bridge is”

 

An indeed it was! Spreading like a tree from over the pillars made in the lake. A long high dome – you almost felt like you were standing in an ancient monument. Suddenly Mr. Karunanidhi stopped and said, “Now Madam, the surprise – look…..”

 

I stood there awestruck, overcome with emotion – I saw big craters where there had been a solid road. I saw water slowly, hesitantly reclaiming its rightful place. The restoration of Neela Hauz Lake had begun!

 

Little by little, section by section, they have started taking out the earth filling in the lake. Trucks are lined up during the day and continuously transport the earth to a landfill site. Mr. Karunanidhi has a red leather bound book full of columns of numbers – depth readings for the lake at multiple points before the construction work in the lake had started. He measures the base depth of each restored section against those readings to verify that the lake gets back its own space. Very dramatically he said, “Madam, the government spent a lot of money on collecting this data. It is my duty to make sure that these depths are restored.”

 

The Neela Hauz shall live again!

 

The Neela Hauz story will probably have a happy ending because of some key elements….. A body of aware, positive minded citizens and children – who wanted to save their lake but also understood the need for this bridge. A ‘Green Lt.Governor’ – politician and administrator who stood by these citizens. Instead of just giving a verbal promise, he made sure that the paperwork was done to give a legal, government sanction to the restoration of this lake. Technocrats who took pride in making a world class bridge with a world class view. An activist who, armed with a Delhi High Court judgment given against a PIL filed by him, made sure that the administration knew that this bunch of non-aggressive citizens also had teeth they could bite with! An NGO that believes in Productive Partnerships, which quietly built bridges to overcome any hurdles to lake restoration on either side. And of course, media that supported the citizen’s untiring, consistent efforts to give life to this lake.

 

The Neela Hauz story will also be a lesson in ‘Faith’. A Society can thrive and be happy only when each element has faith and compassion for the other. When individuals understand the need of the government to cater to the largest base, when government understands the individual’s fear of becoming just another statistic; when man takes from nature where it must, but respects nature’s wisdom, nurturing and long term vision for planet earth.

 

AND NOW….. LET’S CREATE SEQUEL AFER SEQUEL of the Neela Hauz story. Let Each Jal rakshak – wherever he is – find out the nearest lake / pond/ baoli / johad and work strategically with faith, partnership and persistence to create a Water Secure Society.

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