From Open Sewers to Scenic Waterways

writes that Indian architect Manit Rastogi wants to transform New Delhi’s 350-kilometer network of “filth-filled, age-old drains” into scenic waterways lined with walkways and bicycle infrastructure. Rastogi believes using bio-remediation technologies, the dirty streams that feed household sewage into the River Yamuna could be turned into green infrastructure.

According to CNN, New Delhi, a city of 17 million, uses nullahs, a centuries-old system of channels, as stormwater management systems. However, recently, the nullahs have been inefficiently transporting untreated waste. Given that almost five million residents walk to work each day, often passing the nullahs, the stink makes commutes unhealthy and unbearable. Additionally, there’s no housing near the channels because of the smell, creating missed opportunities for housing in a city in need of new apartments.

Rastogi sees renovating the nullahs as an opportunity to apply green infrastructure. He has identified three locations as sites for experiments. Using bio-remediation technologies, enzymes can be used to attack contaminants. “We can treat sewage at its source with the help of mini-equipment before it flows into the nullahs,” Rastogi said.

While the enzymes are breaking down the sewage and cleaning the water, tracts around the channels can be turned into “landscaped passages.” Rastogi said: “The city will then be interconnected with an eco-friendly and safe transport network.” Given the network is already some 350-km long, the system could really become city-wide multi-use infrastructure.

Rastogi identified the main challenge preventing this from occuring: the local bureaucracy. “The main challenge of a project like this surprisingly is not funding, it’s not technology either. The main problem that a project like this faces is a multiplicity of agencies and the fact that our city has no CEO, the fact that there is no one person accountable for the city of Delhi.”

Read the article and see a brief video. Also, check out Rastogi’s Delhi Nullah Web Site.

Image credit: Delhi

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