My name is Siddhi Sudhakar Pednekar. I am a post graduate Urban Planner from CEPT University, Ahmedabad and graduate civil engineer from Mumbai University. I am currently working as Research Associate with Regional Centre for Urban and Environmental Studies (RCUES) at All India Institute of Local self government. I have been undertaking research in the Water, Sanitation and Solid Waste Management sector. In the past, I have had the opportunity to work as a consultant for Parbhani Municipal Corporation on the implementation of Swachh Bharat Mission. The experience has allowed me to have a better understanding about on-ground challenges faced by ULBs in implementing schemes. My area of interest is to work towards and engage the community in building sustainable habitat by bringing in behavioural change and implementing nature-based solutions for creating a water balanced urban ecosystem.
The project is centred on ways to prevent, mitigate and respond to urban flooding by creating a water circular economy and building capacities in vulnerable communities. The focus is to use nature-based solutions to manage and create city water resources through the lense of built use, inclusivity and environmental-social responsibilities among all the stakeholders of the city. The project aims at improving the permeability of city fabric by preserving and rejuvenating wetlands, mangroves, water bodies, salt pans, and creating super surfaces to tap water in the hydrological cycle. The project shall work towards creating city sponges to replenish groundwater and reuse stormwater for secondary purposes in industries, institutes, commercial and non-residential settings of the city. Emphasis will be given on creating super surfaces as environmental social responsibility of institutes, commercial complexes, industries and other non-residential built uses. The project shall also work towards limiting the use of fresh water in Non-residential complexes GIS based mapping will be undertaken of existing water bodies like wells, lakes, rivers, ponds, etc. for studying the absorption capacity of the city. Based on the analysis, sub-surface, surface and super surfaces for retaining water in the value chain shall be identified. Thus, by creating additional water resources for primary as well as a secondary use of water shall help the city reduce its dependence on groundwater resources and desalination plants which would indirectly protect the livelihood of fishermen. Through this, the idea is to convert the economic capital of the nation to water wise economic capital of the nation. Water-wise business hubs will also help mitigate rising temperatures and create self-sustaining secondary water sources.
As Engineer-Urban Planner, I understand the intangible connection of cities' water bodies and hydrological cycle with climate change. Disposal of sewage from industries and settlements along the water bodies has led to pollution of surface as well as subsurface water resources.The current practice of discharging run-off and treated wastewater into the sea is highly unreliable during high tides. Along with this, insufficient drainage due to encroachment along water bodies, wetlands, mangroves and disturbed drainage patterns perceived need to improve city water ecosystems and manage water resources.As more than 50% of the city's population lives in slums or chawls which are not equipped with infrastructure to respond to frequent flooding episodes, many lives are lost due to landslides, water logging in slums, roadblocks due to stagnation of water in low lying areas and open drain covers for draining out water. Mumbai experiences monsoon for a considerable part of the year. Urban flooding thus has become the focal point of the city. This calls for developing infrastructure and building capacities at the local level to respond to such situations. Thus, the idea to create a waterwise Mumbai and building resilience to resonate voices from urban slums, fishermen communities and; foster inclusivity and equity among vulnerable communities of the city led to the initiative of GIS based water anatomy of Mumbai to address urban floods.
MOTIVATION FOR AND COMMITMENT TO CREATING A BETTER AND MORE SUSTAINABLE PLANET
It always wrecked my heart to see one of the fastest cities lose its pace during such events which are only becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change. The yearn of giving back to the city has therefore been integral to me and required no external motivation. I’m the quintessential Mumbai girl with a Mumbaikar vibe. The city is known for its unique chawl system of housing used by mill workers and labourers which later became home to several migrant families. Having lived in the chawls of Mumbai, I find myself the perfect representation of this majority class in the city to drive sustainable interventions in the city.
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