The way forward: Let the ‘living river’ flow freely - Hindustan Times
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The way forward: Let the ‘living river’ flow freely

Dec 12, 2023 08:10 AM IST

Environmentalists say Kukrail is still a living river that can flow, meander and give Lucknow its walking plaza. But this first requires attention towards what the water body wants from us – stop pouring sewage into it

LUCKNOW Kukrail is a living river with a mythological history and flows through the middle of the city in Nishatganj, but is hardly part of any rituals. Reason: The river, which can sustain aquatic life, is filled with filth as at least 50 nullahs bring dirty water from homes into the 28-km-long stream.

Encroachnents along the Kurail river in Lucknow. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)
Encroachnents along the Kurail river in Lucknow. (Deepak Gupta/HT Photo)

“Kukrail is a ‘jeevit nadi’ with a maximum flow of 1,700 cusecs of water and a minimum of 120 cusecs,” stated a survey – ‘Aviral Nirmal Kukrail Nadi’ by Venkatesh Dutta, environmentalist and professor at School of Earth & Environmental Sciences (SEES), BBAU.

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“The drainage of the catchment area around the origin point of Kukrail has been hindered due to the construction of Kisan Path. This is because a pipe of just 80-90 cm has been laid by NHAI for drainage, which is not sufficient. That’s why construction of culvert is important at the point to allow the river to flow,” he said.

In a meeting on May 30, chief minister Yogi Adityanath had emphasised on revitalising Kukrail river and proposed jogging trails and butterfly parks along the river. He directed officials to conduct a study regarding the flow of water in the river. Dutta conducted a survey of the entire river stretch and presented a report on its revival within 15 days.

“My report covers the 28-km-long river from its origin to its assimilation in river Gomti. There are nine other rivers, which are tributaries of Gomti that form the underground water eco-system of Lucknow,” he said.

The Gomti and Sai, along with their various tributaries, form the main drainage system of Lucknow. River Sai flows in the south-western corner and borders Lucknow and Unnao for some distance in the southern part. Rivers Nagwa and Bakh are tributaries of Sai in Lucknow, joining it in the north central part of the district.

Bakh river was formed by a series of lakes south of the old jail road and Charbagh railway station and entered Mohanlalganj tehsil from the north-west, passing through the villages of Mohammadinagar, Aurangabad Khalsa and Aurangabad Jagir and to the east of Bijnor. After crossing the villages, it flows as a perennial stream from the north into Nigohan.

A part of it can still be seen inside Omaxe City. It turns south-east through the central part and continues till Nigohan, after which it again turns south-west and finally joins Sai near Birsinghpur on Rae Bareli border.

However, the source of river Bakh and the chain of lakes disappeared after Ashiana, Bangla Bazar and LDA Colony came up.

For the revival of Kukrail, measures for availability of water in the river throughout the year have to be put in place. All ponds from Asti village to the border of west Kukrail forest will have to be revived and the channel adjacent it also has to be transformed into a river, said Dutta.

The chain of ponds and lakes from Asti village to Kukrail west forest will have to be revived so that the continuity of flow in the river is maintained. It would be appropriate to get the lakes notified by the District Wetland Authority.

As base flow has reduced due to depletion of ground water, it would be appropriate to create a natural green belt through landscaping, instead of concrete structure.

Jugauli lake, situated on the old course of river Kukrail, will have to be revived and developed as a wetland biodiversity park, which will ultimately help in better flow of the river.

Divisional commissioner Roshan Jacob said, “As per NGT and Supreme Court order, there can’t be any illegal structures/habitation on the river bed. To identify and trace the course of river from its source in Asti village, we have consulted environmentalist Venkatesh Dutta, IIT-BHU and Ganga authority. They have given us multiple inputs to trace the river. We have to tap 51 nullahs pouring their sewage, and get the water back into the river after treating the sewage.”

“To maintain its flow, we will have to make source ponds once again besides reviving its aquifers inside the village forest, and along the course of the river. We also thought about the dredging of the river to maintain the flow,” she said.

She said, “In 1950, Kukrail forest area was developed on an area of about 5,000 acres. Without harming the river within the forest area, it would be appropriate to increase the water carrying capacity of the channel as per the guidelines. Small ponds can be made at some places so that water supply is maintained for wild animals.”

Environmentalist and former deputy director, GSI, Virendra Singh Yadav said it would be appropriate to remove encroachments on the banks of river Kukrail so that the natural green belt can be developed.

“The chain of ponds and lakes from Asti village to Kukrail west forest will have to be revived so that the continuity of flow in the river is maintained. It would be appropriate to get the lakes notified by the District Wetland Authority,” suggested Yadav who has worked in several projects in challenging conditions of Himachal Pradesh.

He said as the base flow has reduced due to depletion of ground water, it would be appropriate to create a natural green belt by landscaping, instead of a concrete structure. “Without harming Kukrail river within the forest area, it would be appropriate to increase the water carrying capacity of the channel as per NGT guidelines. Small ponds can be made at some places so that water supply is maintained for wild animals,” added Yadav.

He said the proposed natural vegetation park on the banks of river Kukrail, along with trees like Dhak, Sal, Pakad etc and development of Yoga Park, Mangal Vatika, Smriti Vatika, Atal Vatika, Butterfly Park etc would be appropriate for the environment and river conservation.

“But embankments should be avoided as this will cause problems for natural vegetation and ground water recharge. Tt would be appropriate to create natural green embankments, which will allow for the development of natural banks and vegetation as well as for spreading of water during rains,” he said.

Environmentalist VK Joshi said, “Water bodies must be made wherever space is available in the river Kukrail downstream so that ground water and aquifers can be recharged. Kukrail barrage is situated in the forest area. Desilting is necessary as excessive silt has accumulated on the river bed in the flow area.”

He said , “After the desilting work is done by the forest department, water bodies/lakes will develop, which will provide adequate water availability to the animals of the forest area and water will also be available downstream of the barrage. It is also necessary to develop small ponds along the river so that ground aquifers of the area are recharged.”

WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

*Ensuring availability of water in the river throughout the year is the most significant aspect to ensure aquatic life is rejuvenated.

*The chain of ponds and lakes from Asti village to Kukrail west forest will have to be revived so that continuity of flow in the river is maintained.

*It would be appropriate to get the lakes notified by the District Wetland Authority.

*A natural green belt should be created by landscaping, instead of concrete structure.

*All the nullahs pouring sewage into the river have to be tapped and water be sent back into the river after treating the sewage.

*Without harming the river within the Kukrail forest area, it would be appropriate to increase the water carrying capacity of the channel as per NGT guidelines.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Anupam Srivastava is a Special Correspondent with Hindustan Times, Lucknow. Has produced exclusive stories in medical, civil aviation, civic, political and other issues for over 20 years.

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