It’s tough to imagine the area which is now a major congestion zone — choking with vehicle overload — was open land with a forest of sky-scraping eucalyptus trees eight years ago. Go a little deeper into Kondapur and you’ll find yourself happening across Gautami Enclave, a Stepford-like colony of friendly greetings everyday, waving watchmen and laughing children on bicycles... the collective image is not unlike the billboards for upcoming residential complexes.
This real happiness is the result of years of green initiatives which bring together apartment complexes from different construction names — named Project Neer.
First, get that water
Though Project Neer officially kicked off in 2015, the practices were in place a few years before then. Gautami Enclave Residents’ Welfare Association president Sridhar Yalamanchili was one of the first people to start working towards what the colony is now, and it was no small feat to get to this point. He laughs and shakes his head as he remembers the early days, “It wasn’t easy to convince people of these methods, but we started by placing the rainwater harvesting models in two apartment buildings to see how feasible it would be, and to also show how scalable it is.”
His treasurer Lakshminarayan Rao adds that probably no one would’ve adapted it were it not for the living proof of the model. Other buildings in the colony, old and new, took on the then-simpler rainwater harvesting models which featured the basic gutter, catchment, down-take pipes, delivery pipelines and filter leading to the borewells. As the years passed, more buildings which were added to the community upgraded their water conservation methods; by 2011, it was practically synonymous to live green if you thought of moving to Gautami Enclave.
Grey water is also seen to at Gautami Enclave. At Lakshminarayan’s building and a few others, old school charcoal pits with stones are used to filter out the soap and foam from the grey water. The charcoal filters out contaminants while the stones keep out the larger particles. As a result of this feature and the rainwater harvesting scheme, these buildings have reduced tanker dependency by up to 80%.
Now around 70 buildings in the colony have a rainwater harvesting system in place, with each building having its own borewell. The colony has over around 90 rainwater harvesting pits, including those in building premises. Speed-breakers, being a road safety feature, also channel the rainwater to the pits from the buildings’ pipes. To add to the growing repertoire, there are four 100-plus foot injection well pits. The ordering of water tankers has even reduced by up to 50%. To offer some perspective, on a heavy rainy day, the total rainwater harvested in the colony can be up to 11,000 litres, says Sridhar.
Accountability is a key component to the colony functioning seamlessly as well. Lakshminarayan adds, “We encouraged each apartment building, whatever its size to get water meters installed. Once people start paying through their nose, they start to be more aware. Every drop is accounted for and water isn’t used mindlessly. Everyone — the residents, gardeners, housekeepers — are ingratiated with this information.”
For the animals
It’s not just conserving but sharing too, even with the four-legged friends. Lakshminarayan points to a white and tawny indie dog happily lapping away at a bowl of clean water.
“We worked with Animal Water Bowl Project to bring these about for the dogs. We don’t shoo away these indie dogs, they’re friendly. Plus we don’t let the water stagnate. We replace the water if there’s any left and we use bleaching powder (calcium hypochlorite) in between washes of the bowl, and on the streets, to prevent any risk of dengue and malaria.” There are also poop-free zones in the colony for pet-owners to maintain the upkeep of their neighbourhoods.
All that good growth
Planting trees is a major oxygen-pumping routine here. Last June and July, the colony slowly met a goal of planting 5,000 saplings throughout the area, including 1,000-plus in the Botanical Garden park, and along the Laxmi Nagar road in between — some of these saplings, unfortunately have been removed with the flyover construction. Lakshminarayan states, “Though there are ‘Chirec Public School’ boards near these saplings, they were planted by us. But we don’t mind, as long as they’re maintaining!”
Honesty as a policy
To manage all this obviously requires a wise amount of spending. As a colony would operate ideally, Lakshminarayan says there’s always transparency around GERWA’s funds.
Financial sustainability is vital, he says, adding, “Everything is maintained by us, even our sports ground. Each building has two representatives: one president and one secretary. They are the management committee (MC) members who in turn elect nine election members who make up GERWA committee. We communicate with the MC members where the money is going and they have to educate their residents about the initiatives. To a large extent, this does happen, but some are still... not entirely active.”
Other initiatives at Gautami Enclave include having e-waste bins and waste segregation with Waste Ventures, the profits of which go to the watchmen who oversee the correct segregation. Now that’s scalable.
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