Water and Wetlands

“Water is a vital part of the environment and a home for many forms of life on which the well- being of humans ultimately depends”

Wetland conservation is an issue that has often been overlooked in environmental policy-making. Yet water is so utterly vital to life, it is hard to understand why this is so. After all, what is it that the Mars Rover missions have been seeking on that planet in order to find out if life ever existed there? Of course, the answer is water!

In regard to the same, society organizes various events like World Wetlands Day every year, ie, 2 February to mark the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea. Each year since 1997, government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and groups of citizens at all levels of the community have taken advantage of the opportunity to undertake actions aimed at raising public awareness of wetland values and benefits in general and the Ramsar Convention in particular.

Recently , Indian Environmental Society organized various activities to celebrate the World Wetlands Day on February 2nd, 2011 at Indian Social Institute, Lodhi Road, New Delhi. The programme was catalyzed and supported by RVPSP, Department of Science and Technology, New Delhi. The society organized an exhibition at the venue along with the essay competition and the lectures on the theme “World Wetlands Day”. The lectures were very informational and educative which gave the students about insight on wetlands, its threat and what all should be done to conserve our healthy wetlands. It gave a practical method in providing knowledge to the participants on the significance of wetlands towards developing a sustainable ecosystem.
The programme was a massive success and instilled a sense of wetlands and environment protection among the students.

In the Year 2003 – 2004, the Indian Environmental Society has taken the initiative in implementing a school-based project on Water Quality Monitoring of River Yamuna and Awareness Building Programme for Schools to create awareness and leadership role in combating against Water Pollution. In this programme, the Society has involved 20 different schools in monitoring the Water Quality of River Yamuna in Delhi. With the help of these schools, IES has collected vast data on parameters like pH, TDS, Transparency, Temperature etc. to monitor the quality of River Yamuna. After the success of the Programme, the Society has involved 20 more schools in this campaign and introduced two more water testing parameters i.e. Dissolved Oxygen and alkalinity. The project is being supported by Ramsar Centre – Japan and Japan Fund for Global Environment.

The monitoring and study of waters of Yamuna stretch in Delhi is one of the many components of the proposed project. The project aims to create awareness among the schoolchildren and through their medium in the community, regarding the decreasing water levels and increasing water pollution in Delhi- groundwater as well as surface water. All the activities under the project will streamline towards the infusion of consciousness and information in its target groups regarding water conservation and management practices, which will help to decrease water pollution and its scarcity in Delhi at large.

The Programme: Background and Objectives

All the major rivers of India are facing acute water pollution problem. And so is the case with River Yamuna. Water resources in Delhi are under severe burden, due to over consumption and exploitation of ground water and river Yamuna. Due to industrialization and urbanization the stretch of Yamuna in Delhi has now become a drain. The water pollution of the river has gained large heights. So, the solution for meeting the needs of water supply in Delhi lie with the sustainable use, conservation and harvesting of water resources. To apply the strategies effectively, we need to develop awareness among masses about the same cause. Thus to promote the awareness among masses and to encourage the school community in this campaign, Indian Environmental Society has continued with its ongoing project “Water Quality Monitoring of River Yamuna and Awareness Building Programme for Schools”. This year, the Society has involved 20 additional schools in monitoring the water quality at different stretches of River Yamuna in Delhi. Thus the Society has involved 40 schools of Delhi in this campaign. The project is being supported by Ramsar Centre-Japan & JFGE. This programme aims to involve a large group of teachers and students in the national endeavour for a cleaner and greener environment. Teachers are providing guidance and encouragement to students to work towards this goal. The programme addresses to the water quality problems in large part of Delhi and work towards creating a better understanding of water quality.

The main objectives of the programme are as follows:

      1.To develop awareness about water pollution status among teachers and students and through them to communities.
      2.To highlight the problems caused due to water pollution in River Yamuna and in some areas of Delhi.
      3.To disseminate knowledge to teachers and school children about water quality monitoring analysis.
      4.To provide teachers with technical expertise and training to help them evaluate the water quality status in their area.
      5.To build consciousness and an attitude to save environment from further deterioration and hence laying foundation for a responsible society.
      6.To organize intensive sensitising programmes to have a lasting impact on the target group of teachers and students.
      7.To develop skills in students and also to encourage them to study water pollution and take decisions that will help them and the society.
      8.To provide hands-on environmental education to school students.

Progress during the Year

IES has organized an Introductory Workshop to select 20 more schools to implement the programme and also to provide an insight of the project to the teachers of these schools. Thus apart from 20 schools, selected initially, the Society has involved 20 more schools of Delhi to be the part of the programme. Teachers were encouraged to join hands-in-hand to carry out this innovative project, which involve the students in doing different experiments (like pH, TDS, water temperature, water transparency, and two more parameters i. e. Dissolved Oxygen and Alkalinity) to analyze the water quality of River Yamuna.

Ten more study sites were identified by the project staff of the Society. These sites were selected keeping in mind the convenience of schools and simultaneously to cover wide stretch of River Yamuna flowing through Delhi.

An Orientation Workshop was organized by IES to facilitate interaction among participating schools and programme implementing agency (IES). During the workshop, a brief overview of the project was given to the participating teachers. They were also informed about their respective study sites. Two teachers training workshop were also organized during the year. The teachers were provided hands-on training to perform experiments on various parameters (identified for the project). The training workshop was also organized to develop skills in water testing, to increase communication with teachers and students and to disseminate the information. All the water testing parameters were discussed in detail during the workshop.

IES had up-graded and reprinted the information booklet summarizing all the water testing protocols which was developed last year for the project. All the required experiments are explained in detail with pictorial explanation for better understanding of teachers and students. The booklet contains the required information like water pollution, need of the projects, River Yamuna as a study site, experiments to be performed by the schools etc. All these are explained in detail for better understanding of the teachers and students. The Society has also brought Brochure on Water Quality Monitoring to disseminate the information.

Water testing kits has been prepared and distributed to all the newly joined schools. For the already participating schools dissolved oxygen kit and alkalinity was provided as these have been introduced these parameters this year. The kit contains the following instruments:

      1. Secchi disk for measuring transparency
      2. TDS Meter for measuring Conductivity
      3. pH Meter for measuring the acidic and basic nature of the water body
      4. Alcohol filled thermometer for measuring water temperature
      5. DO kit for measuring dissolved oxygen content
      6. Alkalinity kit for measuring alkalinity

Two demonstration camps were organized by the Society in which all the school teachers and students were taken to different selected sites and the IES project staff demonstrated all the protocols to school teachers as well as to students.

The students from the participatory schools visit these sites, twice in one month, to conduct the experiment, and collect the necessary data.

The Society has organized workshops and meetings on Water Quality Monitoring and Awareness Building Programme to increase communication with teachers and students, to disseminate information, building awareness and to discuss the queries /problems of teachers and students. Several topics were discussed during the meeting such as how to record the accurate data, to check weather the data collected by them is in the accuracy range or not, how they can spread awareness in people etc.

All the selected 20 schools are working in close association with IES. The society has been continuously monitoring the school activities by continuous visits to study sites. The project staff is continuously following up the school activities for better output of the project.

We strongly believe and hope to get clear picture about the water quality of River Yamuna.