Lado Sarai Urban Improvement Project

July 2015

The Lado Sarai Urban Improvement Project has been launched in the community early this year. The project seeks to put into implementation mode the work of research and study done by Greha and Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) over a long period of time.

GREHA (and its President, MN Ashish Ganju) initiated the study for the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India (GoI), in 1999. A year later Greha situated its home in Aya Nagar, a village extending into an unauthorised colony, in South West Delhi adjoining Gurgaon. The research continued with Aya Nagar serving as the field laboratory, and the theme of the research became, ‘Urban Renewal by Citizens’. 

The focus of the urban renewal exercise became, by a clear mandate of the local community, to first take care of public sanitation and management of rain water. In CE 2009, Greha made a report to the Delhi Government (GNCTD of Delhi) which, among other recommendations, proposed a demonstration project for providing a decentralized sewage treatment system with rain water management for recycling waste water and surface water in one neighbourhood of Aya Nagar.

This proposal was taken further in CE 2013, when the DUAC, an apex regulatory body of the Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD), GoI, commissioned MN Ashish Ganju to develop the proposal further, as part of the City Level Projects undertaken by DUAC. The report of this work was published last year. 

The principles and techniques developed in the studies/proposals, researched and developed over the last twenty years at Greha, were applied to the urban village of Lado Sarai, and a detailed exercise is being conducted there since CE 2014. The cumulative learning from these efforts has resulted in a community-embedded urban sanitation model being proposed for implementation in one neighbourhood of Lado Sarai as a pilot. The proposal here is to introduce rain water harvesting practices for augmenting the public water supply system, manage the surface water runoff, and install a decentralized sewage treatment system in the built environment without damaging the existing fabric. The project is designed to be implemented with the full knowledge and participation of the local residents, as well as the local public authorities, with whom extensive discussions have been held and orientation workshops conducted over the last several months.

To start implementation on the ground, detailed surveys, engineering designs, and estimates of cost as well as detail design of community institutions to manage and monitor the public works, are required. These exercises have been started already, but to drive them further the public institutional base provided at present by the DUAC, is not available beyond the month of July 2015, as per policy directions.

Greha, therefore, is approaching funding agencies as well as the Government, to obtain financial support to take forward the project. In the next phase of work, expected to run for 6 to 9 months, a technical team of about 4 to 5 persons is to be supported to develop the project for starting work on the ground. 

The list of activities and timeline are clustered under four heads:

  1. community mobilisation,
  2. habitat design
  3. documentation
  4. raising resources

Activities under each of these headings are to be conducted simultaneously. The activities are subdivided and a time sequence worked out to match the expectations and abilities of both the local people and the public authorities. 

The first head has three significant sub heads which are,

  1. awareness workshops
  2. public consultation meetings
  3. setting up a local test case in one residential building at Lado Sarai

The owner has requested the technical team to install a rainwater harvesting system and a sewage treatment package in his building under construction. An important activity is to work out a framework for the local community to select and put in place a monitoring and management committee from amongst the residents. 

Under the heading of Habitat Design, the activities required are,

  1. preparation of an architectural model to scale of the pilot area,
  2. to make an assessment of existing toilet provisions in the pilot area,
  3. a topographical survey to help in preparation of conceptual master plan of water management in Lado Sarai

While the design activities are being progressed, the technical team will also be engaged with the different actors to start on ground the implementation of the pilot project. 

The documentation process will include two major activities:

  1. recording of the existing conditions on site including the distress of the people over water and sewage management issues
  2. recording of the local installation of rainwater harvesting system and sewage treatment package

The fourth activity of raising resources refers to both financial and human resources. For financial support correspondence has been started with a number of agencies, governmental as well as development foundations. This report is prepared for enabling productive interaction with these agencies and also within the expert group.  At the same time the human resource component is to be developed, and a team of local persons trained for assisting the experts and monitoring work at site. This team can follow up on the implementation and increase reach by conducting workshops with residents to train further volunteers for monitoring tasks. In some time the expert team will no longer be required on site, except for occasional review.