Only a year ago, images of snow-white toxic foam floating over the Yamuna river in Delhi had shocked the world, waking it up to the reality of the water population in the country’s capital. According to the Delhi Jal Board (DJB), one of the main reasons behind this situation was untreated sewage, something that the city’s lakes and rivers have been struggling to tackle for years.
However, in the last few years, The Delhi government has been able to follow a steady path of improvement through various lake rejuvenation efforts spearheaded by the DJB, Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFCD) and several citizen groups. And one the pioneering projects that set the ball of positive transformation rolling was the Rajokri Lake project.
Around 30 km away from the city, near the Delhi-Gurugram border, Rajokri, till 2017, was home to a dying waterbody that had suffered years of toxic abuse. Clogged drains led up to the turbid pond struggling under a filthy blanket of plastic waste and rotting sewage.
However, under all the filth was a reservoir of potential, something that a team including DJB’s technical advisor Ankit Srivastava and architect Mriganka Saxena envisioned. Under their guidance, the DJB along with IFCD started the transformation of the Rajokri pond into Delhi’s first-ever decentralized sewage system.
“Delhi has approximately 600 water bodies and the eventual goal is to revive all of them. However, there was no model of holistic revival that we could follow. So, instead, we created an in-house team to work on making our own model best suited for the city’s condition, and that’s how the Rajokri project was started as a pilot in 2017,” says Ankit, who is a graduate of IIT Bombay, in environmental science and engineering.