The Neela Hauz Will Live Again!


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.

Invitation to Dedication Ceremony of the JAL SANCHAY ABHIYAAN


Jyoti Sharma, President FORCE posted this in Events on March 10th, 2010

Dear Jal Rakshaks

It gives me tremendous pleasure to invite you all for the Dedication Ceremony of the JAL SANCHAY ABHIYAAN – a movement to recharge approx 40 million liters approx. to Delhi’s groundwater using ONLY dried and abandoned tube wells.

This is yet another milestone achieved by JAL RAKSHAKs like you. Your leadership, initiative, commitment and attitude of enabling productive partnerships has helped turn discarded tube wells – an investment of Rs. 3-5 lakhs of public money – into PRODUCTIVE PUBLIC ASSETS.  Instead of being symbols of a dead past, these tube wells will once again become symbols of a dynamic, resilient society

I hope you will be able to come for the Dedication Ceremony, Your presence will motivate all present to take charge of their lives and work towards a WATER SECURE future.

Thanks and regards

Jyoti Sharma

President, FORCE  & Ashoka Fellow

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Jyoti Sharma, President FORCE posted this in Jal Rakshak on December 18th, 2009


1)      To create and build capacities of JAL RAKSHAKs in all 30 pockets (sectors) of Vasant Kunj

2)      Under the leadership of the JAL RAKSHAKs, to make each of these pockets

  1. Water Tank Overflow free and
  2. Rainwater Harvesting enabled.


For this campaign the JAL RAKSHAKS will be:

1) Current members of the JAL RAKSHAK community

2) RWA members from various pockets of Vasant Kunj

3) Members of Vasant Kunj ‘Inner Wheel Club’ – the women’s special arm of Rotary International.


The pilot Campaign will be in all sectors of Vasant Kunj viz total of 30 pockets

1) Sector A/A                            2) Sector A/B                             3) Sector A/C                 4) Sector B-1

5) Sector B-2                             6) Sector B-3                             7) Sector B-4                 Sector B-5&6

9) Sector B-7                             10) Sector B-8                           11) Sector B-9               12) Sector B-10

13) Sector B-11                          14) Sector c-1                            15) Sector –C-2              16) Sector C-3

17) Sector C-4                           18) Sector c-5                            19) Sector –C-6              20) Sector C-8

21) Sector c-9                            22) Sector –D-1                         23) Sector D-2               24) Sector D-3

25) Sector –D-4                         26) Sector D-5                           27) Sector D-6&7           28) Sector D-8

29) Sector B-9 (LIG)                   30) Sector B-9 A


A replicable model of a Community Leader led Partnership model of Water Wastage prevention and Adoption of Rainwater Harvesting would have been created. This project can then be extendd all over Delhi.

1)      Significant reduction in tank water overflows in all pockets of Vasant Kunj

2)      Significant reduction in other forms of water wastage in Vasant Kunj

3)      Maximum recharge potential Rainwater harvesting plans will be ready for all pockets

4)      A momentum for Water Conservation and adoption of rainwater harvesting would have been created in Vasant Kunj.

5)      A team of JAL RAKSHAKS who will become Water Conservation Ambassadors for other localities in Delhi.

6)      A ready team of JAL RAKSHAKs to become a postive interface between residents, government and other partners for implementation of Water Conservation activities in their pockets.

7)      Sensitisation of children through  their active participation about Water Conservation.


The key beneficiaries of the project will be:

1)      Delhi Jal Board – Reduction in wastage of treated supply water and recharge to groundwater of Delhi

2)      Residents of Vasant Kunj – More equitable distribution of water supply due to less wastage and better yield from tubewells

3)      Environment – Water saving and saving of electricity due to reduced pump running ( for running tubewells and motors)



1)      FORCE will identify Community leaders in each of the 30 pockets who are interested in the cause of Water Conservation in each locality

2)      Of these, we will appoint 2-4 as JAL RAKSHAKS for each area. Hence a total of 100-120 JAL RAKSHAKs will be appointed in Vasant Kunj

3)      The JAL RAKSHAKs could be called for a meeting at the DJB Conference Room where they could interact with the DJB CEO, CE (South), PRO and other concerned officials.

4)      In one of the Community Centres of Vasant Kunj, FORCE with support from Delhi Jal Board, Central Groundwater Board and trained plumbers, will conduct Capacity Building sessions for the JAL RAKSHAKS

  2. Water, Electricity and Environment wastage that happens because of overflows
  3. Communication methods for talking to repeat offenders

iii.      Support that can be taken from DJB for warning / penalizing such offenders

  2. Demonstration of two street plays that we have already staged on the topic of tank overflows and water conservation
  3. Support to JAL RAKSHAKS to train 4-5 children in each pocket to perform the play at High Visibility locations in the pocket

iii.      Script for children and follow up plan to motivate elders to become ‘Water Wise’

  1. PLUMBER TRAINING ( 1-2 plumbers per locality ) for installing Water-Overflow prevention devices
  2. If possible, tie up with a manufacturer/supplier of auto cut-off overflow alarms or overflow valves, for discounted supply/installation of such systems.
  4. Need & Potential for groundwater recharge
  5. Method of making rainwater harvesting plan for the locality

5)      Each JAL RAKSHAK to carry out the STOP TANK OVERFLOW AND ADOPT RAINWATER HARVESTING plan in his area

6)      Impact Analysis of the Pilot JAL RAKSHAK program through:

  1. Pre and post campaign comparison of number o households having regular water tank overflows.
  2. Reach of the project in terms of number of people sensitized to the cause of water conservation
  3. Number of rainwater harvesting plans made
  4. Number of rainwater harvesting projects initiated.
  5. Number of Jal Rakshaks appointed

7)      If possible, the Pilot project could conclude with a VIP function where the Honble Chief Minister of Delhi, Smt Sheila Dikshit could be requested to felicitate the JALR AKSHAKs, Children from all pockets who performed the plays and the officials who helped. This opportunity can also be used to call RWAs from other locations and kick-start at similar drive all over Delhi.


5 months – December 15 2009 to April 15, 2010.

Thank you for giving us back our faith in ‘the system’

Thank you Dr Hussein for giving us back our faith in ‘the system’….

The students of St Mary’s School are a persistent bunch!! They called up a few days back to say that they wanted to come back to the Neela Hauz to “Check on its restoration status and fight with whoever necessary to make it live again”.

Neela HauzTheir comment got me worried. Should our children grow up with this belief that they need to ‘fight’ for what is their’s by right? Should they grow up with no faith in the ‘system’ – government, elders and all those who run the world today? Should they see the ‘system’ just as a destroyer of all that is beautiful and pristine…?

No – our children must grow up having faith in the ‘system’. And, having the capability to appreciate all that is good but rectify all that is bad.

I shared these thoughts with the Lt Governor’s OSD – Ranjan Mukherjee and the Dy Director Landscape – in charge of Bio-Diversity projects – Poonam Diwan. I requested them to give the children back their faith – atleast in the government’s promise for restoration of the Neela Hauz.Dr. Hussein Addressing Students

And so, Dr Hussein, you met us all today at the Neela Hauz. You told us about the DDA’s plans for Neela Hauz  Bio-Diversity Area. You explained the complex interplay between all living and non-living inhabitants of our eco-system and how one exists because the other lives. You told us about why the birds and the butterflies we saw all around have vanished. And perhaps more important – you told us about what will be done at the Neela Hauz to bring them all – and more – back. And as icing on the cake, you shared your philosophy of practical ecological conservation, patriotism and a world without boundaries with us.

Sir, your deepDiscussion as Neela Hauz love and understanding of nature shone through like a beacon of hope. If you, Mr Mukherjee and Ms Diwan are part of this ‘system’ it can’t really be so bad !

So, now the children have gone back a reassured, optimistic bunch. They have pledged to be watchful, but not cynical; analytical supporters of good effort and align with nature in creating self-sustaining flourishing eco-systems.

Thank you !

Dear Mr. Lt. Governor, Will You Keep Your Promise???

Yesterday, a group of IX standard students of St Mary’s School came to the Neela Hauz.. They had read about it in the newspaper and had taken this lake up as a Project for Environmental Studies.

So they hunted out my number from the web and said that they had loads of questions about the lake which they wanted answered. We decided to meet at the Neela Hauz.

That fateful meeting was yesterday and I just wanted to share with you the confusion that they left me with.

They refused to believe that the solid mass of earth and the heavy machinery on top – could have ever been a lake. I tried to build for them the vision that I have seen, not so long back – of a beautiful, hidden oasis of peace with fishes and birds and butterflies all around. I could see, that they thought, I was lying.

The Upcoming Bride

They asked me that if it was really so lovely, why did you have to destroy it – did you have no alternative??  In my best adult tone, I told them about developmental prerogatives and about how a bend in a road was a terrible threat to our lives and how broadening the existing road was not possible. They looked incredulous – and asked me whether it wasn’t more dangerous to live without fresh air, water and peace?

They said they thought we adults do not really plan – just give in to pressures from powerful, selfish, short-sighted people. 

They asked me why – if I was so concerned – did I not try and stop this bridge from coming up before the construction started. I hid behind my ignorance – I said the government never asked me what I wanted. They thought I was fibbing – they’ve studied about Democracy you see! A Government of the people, by the people and for the people! 

Oh they bombarded me with questions – about why a non- intrusive technology could not have been used for construction, about why other parallel roads could not have taken the expected increase in traffic….

How Can I Explain To Them Why The Lake Had To Give Way To A Bridge?

I thought they were unfair in making us all feel like silent bystanders to a murder. So I hushed them and told them proudly about our Citizens Movement. I told them how you were a good, ‘Green’ guy who promised to restore this lake to its original state after the bridge is made. I told them about the plan for a Bio-Diversity zone.

I thought I had found a release from the stranglehold of their innocence – but  they looked incredulously at the solid earth where once upon a time there was a lake, at the malba dumped all around and the heavy bridge on our once untouched hideaway……….. and killed all hope with their final questions,

Did he really promise? Can he really return back the Neela Hauz? What’s the guarantee?? Me (Red Saree) & The School Group

Help Save The Neela Hauz Lake

Send your message with this open letter to the Honourable Lt. Governor of Delhi, Mr. Tejendra Khanna on his Listening post ( byCLICKING HERE.

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