22 October 2019

Table of Contents for Greenitiatives





Greenitiatives

We need to shift thinking of water bodies as waste dumping areas

Pune based consultancy firm, Naik Environment Research Institute Ltd, is engaged in management of environment, habitats, water resources, land use and solid waste since 1995. DIPAK NAIK, PRESIDENT AND CEO, NAIK ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH INSTITUTE LTD, responded to CONSTRUCTION OPPPORTUNITIES' queries about the company’s focus on environment sustainability and its key recent activities.

 

Very briefly take us through the genesis of NERIL and the specific role played by your firm in supporting the Indian Green Movement?

My experience at the Indian Navy, which gave me opportunity to participate and command many coastal conservation missions at sea including the May 1993 mammoth oil slick in the Bombay high oil field, motivated me to work on the environment. Naik Environment Research Institute Ltd. (NERIL) was formerly known as ‘DD and Associates’. Headquartered at Pune, with regional offices at Jamnagar and Shimla, the consultancy firm is engaged in the management of environment, habitats, water resources, land use and solid waste. NERIL has played a major role in preparing the methodology and plans for prevention of landslides, improving the soil and moisture regime and improvement of wild life habitats in the Himalayas. Apart from these we have also studied and physically surveyed 20,000 sq km of the Satluj Basin and 5200 sq km of the Beas basin. We also designed a GIS based application software to monitor onsite changes on a continuous basis.

 

Tell us about the various services offered by your firm on creating and maintaining clean natural environment? Can you name few of your clientele and share your experience on working with public governing bodies?

NERIL provides diverse range of macro and micro consultancy services in the areas of: solid waste management, catchment area treatment plan, environment impact assessment and environment management plan, detail project reports (DPR) for rivers and lakes, river front development project, wild life habitat improvement plans and ecological conservation services. In addition, we also conduct training programmes for various government organisations to create awareness about environmental issues, and execute research based studies, CAD/GIS activities. We have offered our services to a wide range of organisations. Some of our important clients are the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Central Water Commission (CWC), National Water Development Agency (NWDA), National Hydro Power Corporation Ltd. (NHPC), Maharashtra Krishna Valley Development Corporation (MKVDC), Tapi Irrigation Development Corporation (TIDC), Godavari Marathwada Irrigation Development Corporation (GMIDC), Haryana Irrigation Division, Pune Municipal Corporation, Forest Department, Government of Himachal Pradesh, Junnar Municipal Council, Jamnagar Municipal Council and Ahmedpur Municipal Council. Most of our projects are executed for public sector bodies and we have therefore a very close experience of understanding how they work. Is is slso a mixed experience. One needs to have a lot of patience and a lot of confidence in one’s cause. The government/local self governing bodies such as the ‘Nagar Parishads’ or Municipal Corporations can pose many problems. Some think of you as an agent or middleman to bribe through to get environmental clearances. Some value your knowledge and experience.

 

Tell us about some of your completed and ongoing ‘impact assessment’ projects in India – location, size of project, technologies used, scope of work etc – and the learning’s drawn from your studies?

NERIL has conducted environment impact assessment (EIA) studies of infrastructure projects and water resources projects such as irrigation, hydroelectric and interlinking of rivers and has presented the client’s case before the Ministry of Environment and Forests. So far we have completed 25 major river valley (hydroelectric as well as irrigation dam) EIA projects, rapid EIA and finalising the alignment for 6 major links in the National Water Development Authority’s inter linking of rivers projects. Longest among those are the Yamuna-Rajasthan Link and the Rajasthan - Sabarmati links (about 800 km each). We have also prepared proposals for diversion of forest land for non-forest use – complete with compensatory forestation plans. Apart from these, NERIL also conducts field surveys and research for establishing baseline status of existing environmental, social and biological conditions. Although we use satellite imagery for varied uses we believe in physical on site survey to determine the actual ground conditions and to interact with the people.

We have conducted extensive baseline studies, which involve physical parameters which include surveys using : topographical/ geographical using GPS and DGPS technologies, analysis of of soil, water, air quality and noise monitoring; land use patterns. It also includes focus on the socio-economic and gathering of information from household surveys. The exercise also examines biological resources through floral and faunal analysis.

 

Give us an understanding about the best practices and technologies utilised by NERIL that has contributed in achieving ease and quality in project execution?

Impact prediction is never in absolute terms. It’s a forecast. One of our best practices which have stood the test of time is use of multiple methods for impact analysis. We invariably always use the GIS tools and overlay method but we also counter check it with the matrices. We designed the first of its kind web based 'River Basin Information System' on ‘ARK GIS’ platform. This has provided a perfect tool for inventorying, planning, monitoring the quality and stages of completion of work and managing huge geographical areas. World Bank has also appreciated this innovation. We have done very useful work in the planning for habitat improvement in The Great Himalayan National Park and on four wild life reserves. This will benefit the rare and endangered species like the snow leopard, the Western tragopan, monal and Khaleej pheasants. We have devised technology for better survival of conifer plantations in alpine areas and have designed structures and fencing made of HDPE to withstand that cold.

 

Tell us about the work your firm is doing in the Satluj and Beas catchment areas?

We are preparing comprehensive catchment area treatment plans for Satluj and Beas river basins in Himachal Pradesh for the state’s Forest Department. The Satluj basin has a total catchment area of 20,000 sq. km. NERIL’s study area starts from Bilaspur district and extends up to Spiti valley, i.e., the Satluj basin above Kol Dam and its tributary Spiti originating at Kunjam Pass at an altitude of almost 15,000 ft. The spatial unit of this study is micro-watershed. In all 179 micro-watersheds have been delineated in the study area from Kol Dam to Wangtoo. 31 sub catchments from Wangtoo to Spiti region are not demarcated into micro-watershed. Hence, the sub catchments have been considered as unit of study for this region. NERIL’s team of field investigators have visited all the MWSs and SCs (both inhabited and un-inhabited) to collect primary and secondary data in respect of the demography, topography, plantation, status of current treatment measures, pressures on the MWS from various sources etc. In addition, GPS co-ordinates and photographs of the visited areas have also been collected.

The catchment of Beas basin covers an area of 5280 sq. km. The Beas catchment has 222 micro-watershed. In order to investigate the contributions of different sub-regions, the catchment has been divided into five sub-basins, namely Kulang (205 km2), Bhuntar (1370 km2), Parbati (1154 km2), Sainj (705 km2) and Thalot (1710 km2). NERIL’s team of field investigators visited all the sites (both inhabited and uninhabited) to collect primary and secondary data in respect of the demography, topography, plantation, status of current treatment measures, pressures on the MWS from various sources etc. In order to increase people’s participation, we also conducted Participatory Rural Appraisals (PRA). The field investigators by themselves and also accompanied by our experts, have undertaken stakeholders’ consultations at various levels. Additionally our sociology and agricultural experts have independently done RRA/PRA consultations. As topographical maps are an essential requirement for generating the base map, NERIL has prepared the base map for the entire project area. The base map was then overlaid with the data collected during primary field survey. All the deliverables are presented in the GIS application which is helpful to analyse the progress, the changes and requirement of any updating. We have developed a web-based GIS application ‘Satluj Catchment Information System (SCIS)’. The overlaying of the surveyed data has been completed for all the MWS and sub catchments.

 

As a player being involved in projects like river cleaning etc. what are the critical challenges faced by project executioners like you in India? What strategies are adopted by NERIL in tackling such situations?

The biggest challenge is to tackle mindsets and inertia of our officials and the polluting population. We need to shift thinking of our water bodies as waste dumping areas. We need to restore the respect for water that was enshrined in all our scriptures. The second big challenge is to get past the corruption. Everyone, big or small, wants to look upon all projects as money making opportunity without a commitment to achieve the desired end result. We get over this by persuasion, creating awareness and by motivating people to contribute in the process of conservation.

 

What are the specific steps required to be taken a) by the government b} by project owners and executioners like you and c) by project managers and consultants – to strengthen India’s green momentum?

The government mechanism must ensure enforcement of existing legislation under EP Act, Wild life Protection Act, Air and Water Prevention of Pollution Act. The government has to create a monitoring mechanism to ensure compliance of environmental management plan, based on which the EIA clearances are granted. The present structure and man power is too insufficient to meet this need. Project owners on the other hand must have to cast their vision towards the long term gain. For example, a well executed catchment area treatment plan will minimise siltation and prevent forced shut down of turbines, thus increasing productivity. Companies must deploy their CSR funds for research to identify more and more conservation needs and effective techniques. Project managers and consultants have to ensure that their surveys, plans and execution is truthfully done based on observed ground conditions; and are not mere paper reports made by the cut paste methods.

 

Tell us about the company’s plan for 2015 and the projects planned for the future?

We are looking forward to do a basin level EIA study for multiple hydel projects on the same river in Himachal. We have submitted an ambitious proposal before the Minister for Surface Transport, Nitin Gadkari, to link the Kandla port by a canal system with Jaisalmer and Panipat. This will make an inland water way and save huge quantity of fuels. We look forward to completion of our DPR and execution of work on rejuvenation, conservation and cleaning of the Rangamati and Nagamati rivers in Jamnagar. We are currently working on two lakes – the Padmavati lake near Junnar in Pune and the Jamal lake in Ausa in Latur district of Marathwada. We intend starting new projects in the field of ecotourism.




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