Drip irrigation in the Aravali Biodiversity Park

Drip Irrigation – using the power of gravity

The Aravali Biodiversity Park has received widespread recognition as a project, and has been envisaged as a paradigm for the development of urban forests in other cities. Being a ‘by the citizens, for the citizens’ initiative, iamgurgaon has been working tirelessly towards creating a civic space which becomes a model of sustainability practices.

This focus on sustainability is reflected in every aspect of the park’ s development: infrastructure, planting and managing resources at the Park. Ecological sustainability has now moved out of the realm of idealism and has become a critical necessity, with cities such as Gurgaon facing severe shortages of natural resources. For the team, it serves the dual purpose of assisting in recycling liquid waste as well as nourishing saplings in the Park in the face of limited infrastructure for irrigation.

The underground water table in Gurgaon is declining at the rate of four feet every year, according to the CGWA. Adding to the water woes is the fact that Gurgaon does not possess any water bodies of its own; the water is sourced from the Basai Canal, which in turn is connected to the Western Yamuna canal. According to environmentalist Prasanto Roy, a single apartment complex wastes up to as much as 5,00,000 litres of water in a single day! (source: zeenews.india.com).

The grim consequences are manifest everywhere; even in posh areas like DLF Phase III, there was an acute shortage of water last summer, with people having to dish out between INR 800-1000 on water tankers. The Economic Times has even gone so far as to sound the death knell for Gurgaon, whose 30,000 odd borewells have already sunk and the underground water levels are close to being exhausted.

If Gurgaon is to continue to thrive, the only way out is to recharge these underground aquifers; and that can be done most effectively through trees.

The challenge of watering saplings at the Park


It is very easy for water to percolate through dry, rocky terrain, allowing very little water to be available for absorption by plant roots. Add to that the dry climate of the area, owing to the proximity of Gurgaon to the Aravalis, and the task of irrigating the saplings becomes very difficult.

Till last year, treated sewage water (grey water) used to be transported to the Park in tankers and ten liter cans were used to irrigate the saplings individually. This led to huge losses in the water reserves due to evaporation during transportation as also due to spillage while being carried in the watering cans. Added to that, the hundreds of man hours that were required to irrigate the saplings made it a slow, tedious process. The saplings were already facing a harsh environment; lack of water would have seriously hampered their growth outside the nursery. A more robust solution was the need of the hour.

The solution – a gravity based drip irrigation setup


The concept of drip irrigation was devised by inventor Simcha Blass, an Israeli, in the 1930’s. He found his inspiration in a tree that apparently grew without water, which was later discovered to be receiving water from a leaking coupling near its roots. With the advent of plastics in the 1950’s, he started looking for means to market his concept in partnership with Yeshayahu, his son. They worked on applying this concept in the desert of Kibbutz Hatzerim, and later established the company that is now known as Netafim, the global leader in alternative irrigation infrastructure. It has been credited for contributing to the Green Revolution in India and in the South American countries, other than Israel.

The drip irrigation method seemed to be most ideally suited for the purpose of irrigating saplings planted at the Park.

This method aims to setup a water drainage system through which water is allowed to drip directly on to the roots of plants or on the soil sub surface through a network of pipes, valves, tubes and/or emitters. Though such a setup may additionally involve many electromechanical components such as pressure pumps, sand separators and electronic valves, it would defeat the purpose of sustainably irrigating the saplings without the use of polluting fuel.

The inherent geographical makeup of the Aravallis served to become our greatest ally in this purpose. The undulating landscape of rolling hills and valleys was put to use to setup a gravity based drip irrigation network, with the water reservoirs being placed on top of hills, thus doing away with the need to artificially pump water to the roots or sub soil surface.

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The drip irrigation infrastructure was put in the Park by Harvel Pvt Ltd and Vasundhara Enterprises, and this setup has been graciously funded by KPMG, one of our most proactive corporate partners.

Advantages of drip irrigation

(I did some more reading on the web; the points below are taken from Wikipedia’s article on drip irrigation)

  • Fertilizer and nutrient loss is minimized due to localized application and reduced leaching.
  • Water application efficiency is high if managed correctly.
  • Fields with irregular shapes are easily accommodated.
  • Recycled non-potable water can be safely used.
  • Moisture within the root zone can be maintained at field capacity.
  • Soil type plays less important role in frequency of irrigation.
  • Soil erosion is lessened.
  • Weed growth is lessened.
  • Water distribution is highly uniform, controlled by output of each nozzle.
  • Labour cost is lesser than other irrigation methods.
  • Foliage remains dry, reducing the risk of disease.

Reaping rich dividends

The team has currently facilitated the installation of a drip irrigation network covering three hills and a valley spread over an area of 75 acres. Water wastage is minimal and the workforce is utilizing the time to devote their energies into other equally important maintenance tasks. The growth of weeds has also been effectively controlled, as the plants can now be selectively irrigated. Areas hitherto considered inaccessible for regular watering need not be visited daily now, as the pipes are doing our bidding. More than 45,000 saplings are happily drinking from this setup and we are saving 4 million liters of water on an annual basis.

It’s a win -win situation whichever way you see it!



  • Drip irrigation has always fascinated me. Can u tell how much it costs in setting the infrastructure. ??

    Prachi Sharma

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