Measuring a massive 4.2 acres, the Yam Talaiya, a pond in Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, is a secondary pond that flows from the primary Vishnu Sagar Talab.

The pond is of utmost importance to farmers residing nearby, but was on the verge of disappearing with weeds and silt threatening its existence.

Thanks to commissioner Anshul Gupta’s efforts, the pond is now clean and thriving with biodiversity.

Owing to negligence, excess deposition had reduced its water-holding capacity, and the weeds had started choking the entire biodiversity of the pond.

Anshul Gupta became the commissioner of the Ujjain Municipal Corporation in late 2021, and one of his first initiatives was to save the dying pond with the help of volunteers.

“The pond was dry and filled with mud and silt. During my previous posting as a CEO, Zila Panchayat, Umaria district, I had experience restoring water bodies. I decided to save this pond as well,” says Anshul.

He reached out to the Environmentalist Foundation of India (EFI), a non-profit environmental conservation group, who conducted surveys and came up with a plan of action.

Working with Anshul, the group invited other NGOs and environmentalists to help in the restoration process.

They raised Rs 60 lakh through different initiatives, of which Rs 10 lakh was raised through CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), and the rest from private donations.

The process of restoration kicked off with de-weeding and garbage removal, followed by desilting. New embankments were constructed for a length of 540 metres to prevent encroachments.

Additionally, nesting islands were also constructed to encourage flora and fauna in the pond. A walkway and a wooden bridge to cross the inlet have also been constructed.

The influx of a variety of birds and reptiles has transformed the pond, and tourists have started visiting the site. Over 100 residents, including farmers, have benefitted from the rising groundwater table as well.