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IHP campus in Jhansi – An eco-environment model to emulate

The story of transformation of a dry and rocky terrain into a thick forest which, if replicated on a large scale, can solve many of India’s environmental problems.

By PPFI Team

Febuary 25, 2009

Is it possible to convert a dry and rocky area into a thick forest where trees and plants of almost all varieties found in India can be grown?

Yes. The family members of the staff of The Indian Hume Pipe Company Ltd (IHP) have made it possible with their untiring efforts over the past several years. Their campus located at Karari, a village located some 15 km away from the historic city of Jhansi, has emerged as a model for eco-environmental balancing. The factory located in the Karari village manufactures concrete sleepers that are laid on railway tracks and Prestressed Concrete Pipes (PSC) Pipes. The level of success they have achieved is evident from the fact that in a region where the ground-water level is as low as 60 feet, the groundwater level never goes below 22 feet even in summer season. 

They took several path-breaking measures to achieve this. Firstly, their emphasis was to ensure that not even a drop of water – be it the monsoon rainwater or the pumped out ground-water - is allowed to flow out of their campus. Their aim was that all the water that comes to them by natural or artificial means should be used to recharge the ground-water. For this, they dug-up a kutcha drain of 1 metre width just inside their boundary wall which runs all along the campus boundary. Thus any excess water that gets collected in the campus due to monsoons or the other activities taking place in the campus flows into the drain. The drain acts as a huge soak-pit and the water collected in the drain percolates down the earth and recharges the ground-water. 

Another important step that they took was to make full use of the two tube-wells and the two wells in the campus for making the campus greener. Ground-water obtained from these four sources was used to the maximum limit possible. For this, pumping-out of groundwater was done and all the water left unused after factory and domestic consumption was applied to the trees and plants grown in the campus (Pumping of water is recorded). All the barren parts of the campus were irrigated to the limit of being flooded with water. This ensured that soil in any part of the campus remains wet all the time. Also 20m high water-sprinklers were erected in the campus which generates artificial rains during the hot summers. 

The effects of the whole exercise were evident soon. The incessant flooding and wet soil in the campus changed the climate within the campus to such an extent that despite it being located in the rocky terrain of Bundelkhand region, anyone in the campus would feel as if he is walking in the green mountains or the seashore. The wet climatic conditions helped the staff to grow almost all varieties of trees and plants found in India in all seasons. The visitors will be surprised to see plants and trees bearing apples, grapes, banana, coconuts, oranges, litchis, mangoes, papayas, vegetables & medicinal plants of different climatic zones being grown in the same campus. And despite not being grown in their respective climatic regions, the crop produced is abundant and very high in quality. Some of the papaya trees produce as much as one ton of papaya in a single season. 

The whole campus has thus, considering the rocky terrain of Bundelkhand it is located in, turned into a proverbial “oasis in the desert”. The large number of fruit-bearing and other trees that were planted in the campus now attract a large number of birds of several species. The crops and medicinal plants grown in the campus are distributed free of cost to the staff and their families staying in the campus and also to the needy people. The dedication of the family members of the staff at IHP campus in Karari has led to a transformation which leaves even the environmental experts visiting the campus wide eyed. After all, in how many places can one find apples trees brought from Kashmir growing alongside coconut trees brought from Kerala. The most commendable outcome of the whole exercise has been the rise in the level of ground-water to 22-feet. Considering the water crisis in several parts of the country, the IHP campus stands out as model to emulate for urbanisation coupled with eco-balancing. 

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