Just as Mexico City (Mexico) is progressively sinking because the valley’s lakes were progressively drained, Hyderabad, which was once home to 800 lakes has but a mere 185 lakes remaining today due to pollution and unplanned urban development.
In the context of ever-expanding cities, Hyderabad, like many other urban areas in the country, is under immense pressure for basic needs with access to clean water being one of them.
Sources of water available include ground water, surface water and rainwater and while ground water is going through massive depletion and surface water is becoming increasingly polluted causing serious health hazards, rainwater remains is plentiful but initiatives fail to harvest it sensibly.
Kalpana Ramesh, Interior Architect at Kaava Design Studio, presents the “Live the Lakes” initiative. Launched by the Society for Advancement of Human Endeavour (SAHE) in association with the Government of Telangana, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and Pernod Ricard India Charitable Foundation, this project consists in the restoration of Lake Kudikunta in Hyderabad (India). It is an endeavour to sensitize communities around the importance of preservation and restoration of the city’s lakes.
What role have designers played in the restoration project?
Designers and architects are helping out with a holistic vision, with the methodology and mapping, which eventually helps to raise community awareness and appreciation of the lake.
Designers play a key role in establishing a design strategy based on research and the topographic understanding of the catchment areas, hydrology and drain study, which are relevant for the restoration roadmap, as well as in recreating an interesting lakeshore and public space for the community that will impact quality of life for citizens that live around the lake.
What are the project’s long-term objectives?
The design strategy involves not just uplifting the water quality, but also improving the physical dimensions of the lake. It also involves understanding the socio-cultural fabric, the urban context, the ecological impact, economic viability, political will and community participation.
Our ultimate plan is to establish a replicable model for the city and improve ground water around a 2km radius around the lake, to make the catchments ground water rich with aquifer mapping, construction of check-dams, wells, recharge points in common areas and take care of urban flooding which is a growing and serious problem around urban communities.
Tell us about the multidisciplinary challenges experienced thus far.
Our core concept at SAHE is to build communities that will help in solving issues through collective action. We began our work with raising awareness amongst the communities around the lake. Building trust with the communities was the first challenge. We had to iron out differences between different communities, working around them to encourage behavior changes such as public dumping from residential and commercial establishments. We have reached out to scientists at grass root innovation and water treatment companies across India, but also to real estate owners and builders, commercial establishments and schools around the lake. Working with each of them raised specific challenges.
SAHE have been able to bring 15,000 people under one umbrella. Soon there will be 22,000 people involved in the first ever Lake Protection Committee for an independent lake in India.
They have also successfully erased 90% of garbage dumping on the lakeshore and in the lake and removed almost 8 trucks of plastics since our first clean up and can already see an increase in biodiversity on the lake.
SAHE (Society for Advancement of Human Endeavour) is a non-profit organization that was formed with the intent of doing social impact activities across the city of Hyderabad (India). Its members aspire to create a society that will create a sustainable model of philanthropy and entrepreneurship. SAHE supports several events across the city. Some of SAHE team members are also part of the TEDxHyderabad team. SAHE also participates in social projects, encourages entrepreneurship and helps to bring in accomplished speakers to who can empower and inspire for social impact.