SAFE Green

Conservation of Waterbodies and Wetlands

Revival of Ponds and Lakes

Pond Revival for Achieving Water Security

The revival of water bodies like ponds, ahars, lakes and wells, is a must to achieving water security for any place, especially where water demand is high.

The local water bodies like ponds, lakes and wells have been the main source of water for the local people in villages. The ponds help to maintain the ecological balance. They are also instrumental in recharging the groundwater. However, negligence and encroachment resulted in their deterioration leading to acute water shortages in some regions. In some cases, the polluted water of the lakes or ponds has been responsible for spreading diseases.

SAFE realized that the pond revival is must for sustainable future and water security of people and place.

Ponds that Need Revival

According to the official records, there were around 800 ponds in the Noida and Greater Noida region of Delhi NCR. In 2016, SAFE investigated and data was shocking. Only 400 were left. The rest have been encroached upon. Most of them were turned into dumping grounds.

The SAFE volunteers noted that most of the ponds in the Noida and Greater Noida region were facing some common problems. Those are:

  • The sewage and solid waste are dumped in the ponds and are polluting the water.
  • The polluted water percolates down, polluting the groundwater which is the only source of drinking water for the villagers.
  • The water hyacinth covers the water and reeds grow all around it.
  • The pollutants in the water destroy the aquatic life of the pond and the impacts the ecological balance.
  • The stagnant water is the breeding ground for mosquitoes and other vectors that spread diseases.

SAFE pond revival projects take care of all the points mentioned above in all the projects that they take up:

  • The sewage that primarily feeds the ponds are treated before releasing
  • Rainwater is harvested
  • Groundwater pollution is prevented
  • Aquatic ecosystem is restored
  • A recreational place for the locals with greenbelt around the pond is made
  • No more diseases spread from the pond



SAFE follows a Step-by-Step Approach to Revive the Ponds

For the revival of the ponds or lakes SAFE usually follows a step by step approach. There is a 10-step plan that they follow.

How It Started

In June 2017, a team of SAFE members, led by the founder Vikrant Tongad, visited Jalandhar in Punjab to see the cleanliness work by Padma Shri Balbir Singh Seechewal on the Kali Bein River. The members were hugely inspired to see the sewaks (workers) uprooting water hyacinth (an invasive plant species) and weeds from the polluted river, with bare hands. The sewaks planted medicinal and fruit orchards along the riverbank. SAFE members decided to come back and replicate these measures for the dying ponds of Noida and the Greater Noida region. The effort began with the cleaning of the one-acre pond of Dabra by 50 volunteers, villagers, technical experts and local politicians. They manually removed tonnes of floating garbage from the pond and even set up small ‘natural sewage treatment tanks’ for the villagers (Seechewala model). These prevented the black water from being drained into the pond and contaminating it. The villagers named the new-pristine pond as ‘Shaheed Sarowar’ after a local, martyr Suresh.

Accolades and Recognitions

In 2017, the government broadcaster, DD News, featured the success story of Dabra pond in a program called ‘Jal Shakti Samachar’ (, relevant portions from 05:47 minutes to 08:25 minutes; and and clips from it were featured in an episode of PM Narendra Modi’s ‘Mann Ki Baat’ in 2019.

Work Done So Far and Work in Pipeline

SAFE has revived over one dozen ponds of Gautam Budh Nagar like in Girdharpur, Ladpura, Kheri and Haldwani. It has a plan to scale this up and revive ponds in other states as well.

Wetland Conservation

Wetlands are the areas where water covers the soil all the year or for a varying period during the year. Wetlands usually support a wide variety of terrestrial and aquatic species. Though the wetlands vary widely because of regional and local differences in soils, topography, climate, hydrology, water chemistry, vegetation, and other factors, including human disturbances, they are mainly categorized into two types: coastal or tidal wetlands and inland or floodplain wetlands.

Shrinking Wetlands

According to authentic reports, about 50 % of the world’s population lives in urban areas. By 2050, it will rise to 66% as cities are growing. Wetlands are disappearing at the rate of 64% from 1900, which means 1.5 % every year.

Why Protecting the Wetlands is Important

Wetlands work the same way for our environment as the kidneys work for our bodies. They play a critical role in the hydrological cycle, nutrient cycle, and food chain.

The wetlands in flood plains mainly help in

  • controlling floods by collecting the excess water
  • recharging groundwater as the water seeps through and gets collected underground
  • supporting life (flora and fauna) that thrives in and around the wetlands
  • working as a pollution sink as the microorganisms and different biological species in the wetlands turn the pollutants into the useful matter; water gets purified naturally
  • preventing soil erosion

SAFE Works for the Conservation of Wetlands

SAFE works towards the conservation of wetlands. SAFE also makes people aware so that they can rise for environmental justice. SAFE provides consultation and legal advice regarding this matter.

Wetland Conservation in Noida-Greater Noida Region

The Greater Noida region is in the flood plains of the river Yamuna. This region is blessed with beautiful wetlands like Surajpur (a 60-acre wetland), Dhanauri (25 acres of wetland surrounded by rice fields), and Hasanpur (a 90-acres wetland at Hapur).

  1. Surajpur Wetland Conservation was the Most Significant Project

Due to rapid urbanization, about a 300-acre area of Surajpur wetland shrunk and 500+ trees fell in the region during 2005-2016. Old palm, peepal, and neem trees were cut and ornamental trees like Alstonia and ficus were planted.

In 2014, in the Gautam Budh Nagar district, a 2000-acre eco-park came up to develop eco-tourism. This led to encroachment into the wetland as well as the cutting of more nest trees around the wetland.

Even though Surajpur was a part of the reserve forest area, no clearances were sought from the union ministry of environment, forest, and climate change.

  • SAFE filed a plea in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) objecting to development projects inside the sanctuary in 2016.
  • As a result, on June 3, 2016, the NGT put a stay order on the construction work inside the wetland and sought reports from the Uttar Pradesh government as well as the Centre on the issue.
  • The forest department was compelled to shelve the eco-park project inside the wetland and forest reserve.

SAFE planted over 1,000 saplings of native trees like banyan, peepal, pilkhan, Jamun, and sehtush around Surajpur Wetland.

SAFE played an instrumental role in protecting the wildlife in the region. Vigilant SAFE members noticed that at least two nilgais (blue bulls) were coming under the cars and dying every month while trying to cross over from the wetland to farmlands, and wrote to the Forest Department. They put up five boards by joining hands with the Uttar Pradesh Forest Department to warn drivers. Those boards read: “Nilgai prone area, drive slow”.

It is a Never-Ending Task

Every year during the months of May-June, Vikrant and the volunteers of SAFE make frequent visits to the Surajpur wetland. They inform the Uttar Pradesh Irrigation and Flood Control Department to open the Tilpata Canal when the water level of the wetland goes lower than the permissible mark beyond which it doesn’t let the fish and the plants survive in the wetland.

  1. Dhanauri Wetland Conservation

SAFE has done considerable work in protecting and conserving the Dhanauri wetland. This wetland is located in the rice-growing belt. Being a water-rich area, farmers prefer to do rice farming. Due to the overuse of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, the run-off from the paddy fields ended up polluting the wetland. The ecological balance of the wetlands started getting affected. There was a sharp decline in the population of fish and other animal and plant species. migratory birds that were flocking during the winter months were hard to spot. Another major concern was the poaching of native and migratory birds like the Northern Shoveler, Purple Swamphen, Greylag Geese, and Sarus Crane.

SAFE members discussed with the farmers and made them aware of the problem. SAFE wrote letters to the District Forest Officer (DFO) of the area asking for a guard to be deployed and this was granted. SAFE also wrote to the Hapur DFO and got the boating and fishing business at Hasanpur Wetland stopped. After a long battle, the migratory birds could be spotted again in the wetland and the water quality has improved.