Environment & Ecology
Mapping a Waste Treatment Landscape | Dhruba Das Gupta
LA 58
A trip down memory lane to when Dhrubajyoti Ghosh identified and attempted to map the East Kolkata Wetlands in an attempt to draw a complete picture of the ecosystem. His methods comprised participatory paper mapping and encashed in the knowledge of the locals who knew the region better than any external surveyor could possibly hope to. He became a spokesperson for the conservation of the East Kolkata Wetlands and through his efforts, the wetlands were granted a Protected Area status.
For any city administration, wastewater is typically a subject of concern because of the cost of its treatment. According to a 2015 Central Pollution Control Board report, only 37 per cent of all urban wastewater is treated in India. Wastewater treatment, especially in the cities located on or close to the banks of the Ganga, is a sad story.

The commonly held worldview is that wastewater is a pollutant. But in tropical countries with abundant sunshine, this need not be the perspective. The 12,500-hectare stretch of East Kolkata Wetlands is the largest in the world that treats a city's sewage and also manages its solid waste. By-products are fish and vegetables that feed the city. More than 1,18,000 people1 are sustained by this wetland. They nurture this ecosystem to ensure their livelihood. East Kolkata Wetlands, known the world over as a Ramsar site or Wetland of International Importance, is an exemplar of wastewater treatment by a natural biological method.

The practice of wise use of domestic wastewater as a nutrient to produce food drew attention to a worldview which the non-literate wetland community had evolved based on their experiential learning. Late ecologist Dhrubajyoti Ghosh [1947 - 2018] understood its significance in the early 1980s, when not many even in the city knew about these wetlands or their function. Ghosh's understanding of this wetland ecosystem led him to map it following the fundamental scientific pattern of the wastewater utilization and resource recovery by the local community.



 


ISSUE NO: 58
report
Reimagining Landscapes
Identity | Approach | Stewardship
Isola 13th annual conference, Kochi, 2019

Rajesh George, Nupur Prothi Khanna and Nikhil Dhar

tribute
Remembering Nimish

Sohan Nilkanth

ecology & environment
Mapping a waste treatment landscape
East Kolkata wetlands

Dhruba Das Gupta


Land & Water
Udaipur: The city of lakes

Rupal Rathore


Lakes of Delhi
Intekhab Alam


competition
Auroville

Garden of the unexpected

Eyes on the canal
Buckingham canal open-ideas competition

profile
A site to behold

Sujata Kohli

conversation
Sustainable designs, unique identities

In Conversation with Shyam Khandekar

Imagining landscapes of social and
Ecological resilience

In conversation with Breck Gastinger


view from within
Those old days in these new Times

Geeta Wahi Dua

landscape design
Weaving culture through the Landscape
Tata Consultancy Services, Mihan, Nagpur

LSG Landscape Architecture and Green Space Alliance [GSA]

VILLA 270°
Harne, Dapoli, Maharashtra

Sparrow Landscape Initiative

seeing the unseen
Stories of everyday, everywhere and for everyone

PULP


book review
Look what we found when we planted seeds
Of curiosity!
UNESCO World heritage sites of India series

Review by Malvika Bajaj Saini






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