Adopt IUWM

Jaisalmer

Jaisalmer in the desert state of Rajasthan is situated at the boarder of Pakistan. The city is shaped by the extreme climate of the region: the people live with little rain and scarce water sources, high summer temperatures and dust storms. Things change during the monsoon when heavy rain falls often lead to water logging.  In 2006, the fort city was struck by the heaviest flood event it had faced in centuries.

The city had a number of manmade reservoirs in the past, including the Gadisar pond that was the main lake of the city. Jaisalmer had a unique system of interlinked ponds, which were used to store water and have enough during the dry season. Traditionally the ponds in the city also had wells, so called baories, rain water. These stepwells in the midst of the ponds, which have helped the city face droughts over centuries, are now in a state of disrepair. During monsoons, Jaisalmer often faces instances of water logging, mostly caused by  encroachments on the interlinkages between these ponds, degradation of the catchment area, runoff from the fort ward and waste (especially plastic waste) clogging up the drains.

To solve these challenges, Jaisalmer has prepared a master plan to upgrade the water supply and sewerage network as part of the Rajasthan Urban Infrastructure Development Project  by 2031 . These efforts are likely to improve the city’s resilience to flooding and water scarcity in the future. The municipality is also undertaking activities to improve the sanitation and solid waste management under the Swachh Bharat Mission.

The stakeholder committee in Jaisalmer identified a number of issues that needed to be addressed to solve existing water problems. Key issues included the need to monitor the water supply distribution, increase rain water harvesting and conserve and revive traditional rain water harvesting structures, restore the interlinkages between the ponds and reduce encroachment on catchment areas , , find solutions to tackle the plastic waste problem, plastic waste management, improve the poor condition of ponds, hand pumps and other water supply sources, re-use water more, provide a dual water supply system and green the area around the city’s water resources .

The water vision the local government and all relevant stakeholders developed together during the AdoptIUWM project strives to solve the water challenges through an IUWM approach. The two pilot projects Jaisalmer identified through the Project Priotisaion tool and implemented are a practical start: one pilot looked into establishing a solid waste collection scheme in two selected wards and the second pilot focused on reviving the Govind Sagar pond and renovating the stepwell in the pond.

Integrated Urban Water Management vision of Jaisalmer

Integrated Urban Water Management for the city to conserve ponds, ensure reuse of treated wastewater, utilise runoff and conserve catchment area of water bodies for sustainable tourism and city development through community involvement.

AdoptIUWM Newsletter #1 for Jaisalmer

Find out more about what happened in Jaisalmer in Year 2 of the project.

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AdoptIUWM Newsletter #2 for Jaisalmer

Read about the activities in Jaisalmer in Year 3 of the project.

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AdoptIUWM Newsletter #3 for Jaisalmer

See the final results of the pilot projects in Jaisalmer in Year 4 of the project.

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Pilot project 1 | Implementing solid waste collection in two wards

From July 2016 onwards each household in two wards was provided with a recycled bag to collect plastic waste and another cloth bag to store paper waste. The municipal staff and all of these households were trained in segregating their waste at the source. As the streets in the ward around the city’s fort are narrow and inaccessible for autos, a tricycle with two bins was used to collect the waste in this ward, whilst the waste in another ward was picked up by a waste collection tempo vehicle.

The waste collection scheme quickly showed effect and the the Municipal Council of Jaisalmer requested to extend the collection to all sorts of waste in September 2016. Another round of community consultations was held and separate bins for green waste were distributed to each household. Now, the waste is segregated into wet and dry waste in both wards. The recyclables are sold to a local kabadiwala and the revenue from this goes as to the the municipal sanitation staff involved in this pilot project. The wet waste from these wards is taken to the composting beds for vermi composting. As a composting facility was installed on a public-private partnership basis by the municipality and a compost shed was also constructed. The first batch of compost from the wet waste is ready for sale on a profit sharing basis between the private vendor and the Municipal Council.

Pilot project 2 | Reviving of traditional rain water harvesting system

Some of the ponds in Jaisalmer were once connected so that the overflow from one pond used to enter the other pond. These interlinkages have disappeared over time due to encroachments and urbanization. Groundwater levels in the city are also low and its withdrawal is banned.

After a series of discussions, the stakeholders and municipality decided to revive the Govind Sagar Pond alongside the City Park as part of the AdoptIUWM project. This pond is linked to Gadisar pond and has an ancient well or baori that is currently being used for worshipping. The pond and its catchment area are – although this is the central pond in a series of interlinked ponds – under threat by encroachment, catchment degradation and the filling up of interlinking channels. Run-off water from the City Park, where there is hardly any vegetation, enters the pond directly and causes siltation of the water body. In this pilot project the pond and the ancient well were revived and a part of the presently neglected City Park re-vegetated.
The pilot project was kicked-off with a site visit by the municipal officials, representatives from the groundwater board, local stakeholders, a Math trustee, priest and technical expert as well as the team from ICLEI South Asia. Water samples were collected from the site and a detailed topographic survey was conducted to map the pond, its contours and interlinkages with other ponds. The pond as well as the baori were then desilted with support from the Municipal Council. The dilapidated structure of the baori was dismantled and a stepwell with a better water storage capacity during the dry season was built. The connecting channels to the Govind Sagar pond are being currently being cleared and trees and bushes planted in the City Park to prevent further siltation.