ARAI hill remains green despite water scarcity

As the city continues to reel under severe water shortage, a group of social activists and industrialists have succeeded in keeping the surroundings
of Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) hill lush and green.

Saving a lot: Water storage tank at ARAI hill installed by Green Hills Group to provide water for 3,000 plants; (inset) a plant gets water through drip irrigation method. Pics/Krunal Gosavi

The group made this possible by adopting a simple traditional method of drip irrigation and ensured the survival of 80 per cent of the plants in the area.
Athawale, president, Green Hill Group took up the initiative along with fellow environment-conscious persons, IT professionals, businessmen, retired bank employees and industry representatives, to save plants amidst the water scarcity crisis.

“Out of 3,000 plants, we have managed to save 2,500 with the drip irrigation method. Those who had made it possible include Athawale, Mahesh Paradkar, Jasvinder Singh, Sanjay Suryavanshi, Shrirang Dandge, Ravindra Marathe, Sadashiv Bhave, Chandrakant Chopde, Ravi Pardeshi, Jayant Devdhar and Nandini Dev.

“Two water-storage tanks and drip irrigation apparatus were given to us by Tata Motors three years ago when we planted trees on the hill next to ARAI. Nihar Agro Company donated a dry grass cutting machine to avoid forest fires in summer,” Athwale said.

The Green Hill Group has also made an artificial water body using synthetic sheets to retain rainwater on the hill. Ravindra said that the group initially began watering the plants with bottles brought from their homes, but now the drip irrigation method has ensured the plants flourish even this summer.

Veteran botanist and professor, S G Mahajan, who visited the ARAI hill said. “The work is painstaking and very important to save the green cover on the hills, which is diminishing day by day due to human encroachment. The city really needs to have green hills to maintain air quality.”

The Forest Department had officially given 12 acres of land to Green Hill Group for tree plantation three years ago. “We are constructing a wall near these plants, which will serve as protection from animals and people staying in nearby slums.

We have also provided them saplings of some indigenous plants to grow on the hill,” said D S Thube, assistant conservator, Forest Department, Pune. Local species of trees planted at ARAI hills by Green Hill Group include apta, karanj, kadulimb, moha, umbar, shisam, avala, pimpal, chincha and banyan.  

Hot for a reason
Indian Meteorological Department, Pune, recorded a higher than normal temperature of 38.1 degrees Celsius yesterday. Dr Medha Khole, director of the department, said, “Rajasthan is experiencing a heat wave, which will not affect the state. However, the temperature is above normal and will remain the same for the next two or three days.” An IMD official said the weather will remain unchanged for the next 48 hours because of the low pressure belt over Vidarbha and Marathwada. 

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