A Call for Volunteers

-by Shruti Syal

Note: This isn’t an ad. Walking along Delhi’s open drains, its nullahs, isn’t necessarily an eye opener for everyone.

If you’ve read past posts, you’ll realize one of the exciting things about ACWUS is working on cleaning the wastewater in these drains. Realizing various designs for linear landscapes with water based on site specifics could be appealing to the landscape architects and environmental engineers. One could test different types of designs for surface flow wetlands. Its a playground for designers and ecological engineers.

For a photographer, it could be appealing as a portfolio. There’s life along these drains, in the settlements and mandis clamoring for space, and attention.

Would-be sociologists could get their first direct whiff into the life of nearly half of Delhi’s folk. As with them, students of several programs- environmental studies, ecology, urban planning, etctera- could have their immersion experiences.

Or you could just go with a pal for a hike, camera in tow, see something new and never go back again. However, that one trip of yours could help ACWUS profile at least one more site in its roster. And that’s enough for us to be thankful for.


1. Select a site from our post: https://acwus.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/wetlands-by-the-dozen/. The sites already covered have been profiled on the blog.

2. Tell us which site it is, and we will send you a detailed map.

3. Take out 2-4 hours one morning (depending on travel time to the site) for the site visit. Preferably go as early as possible to avoid getting caught in the heat. Carry a good camera, and preferably go with a partner.

4.  Find your way to the settlement, find the furthest point upstream that you can get access to, walk along the drain up to and beyond the settlement, preferably up until you can get to the furthest point downstream without losing sight of the settlement. This is because we need to profile the settlement and drain conditions together.

5. Take PLENTY of pictures. I ram about 40 pictures within a 1 km length itself, multiple angles, close-ups, long and wide photos of the same spots…the works!

6. As for what you’re looking for in the drain…gauge the

(1) depth of the drain

(2) unique formations in it

(3) inlets / outlets

(4) vegetation

(5) other built surroundings or institutions

(6) meanders of the water channel

(7) height of the banks

(8) areas with the widest flat spaces, or better still, a combination of flat open spaces and below-1 metre depths.

7. Carry wet wipes or face tissues, a hand sanitizer if you like getting in the thick of things, glares or hats, maybe a handkerchief or scarf to shield your nose if the stench is high, a BIG bottle of water, just about enough money for travel, and preferably throw all these into a light sling bag. Travel light. You won’t have fun otherwise.

8. Be aware of everything happening around you. Take note of things you can’t capture on the camera, and relay your feelings about the site, the community, the surroundings. Salomi and I weren’t experienced in anything for out initial visits, so we couldn’t take diligent notes because we didn’t know what we were looking for, and rather, relied on how we felt about things at the sites.

9. We also responded honestly when people asked us why we were taking pictures of the drain, and we said we are students looking at the city’s habitats to understand what conditions are, and how we can change them. They’re very hospitable to students.

10. Come to the meetings. We’re planning for them to be fortnightly, so there will be others relaying their experiences as well. And you’ll learn about what we’ve accomplished already, and what our next steps are for the coming weeks.

You know how to reach us: info.acwus@gmail.com

This entry was published on August 3, 2012 at 9:17 am and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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