Rakshak, an initiative by the Rainbow Greeners, Nagpur, has been visibly instrumental in not only transforming but also revolutionizing the tree plantation in Nagpur district and other adjoining districts and states as well. Rainbow Greeners, being in the landscaping business needed a system that would protect their growing saplings and provide adequate moisture to the plants.
And while they were researching, they formulated Rakshak, a simple yet robust mechanism to optimally water the plants. Rakshak goes a step further in not only watering the plant directly into the root zone, (where it is actually required), it also safe guards the growing tree, in its infant stage from various external factors like cattle, stray dogs, wind, or sometimes humans too.
We interviewed the force behind this initiative and asked him about Rakshak and how it is making an impact on our environment.
How was this initiative conceived?
Since necessity is the mother of invention, we, at Rainbow Greeners needed a potent system to hold up our saplings through heat, water scarcity and any casualty, and while we were trying to come up with a system that would not only water the infant plants but also guard them from getting damaged, we devised Rakshak.
How did you plan to launch it in Nagpur?
We had introduced it to various stakeholders in the business. In the process, some conscious corporators showed interest in Rakshak. We did a pilot for the government at our own cost and expenditure. The pilot was successful and after the plan went through the customary government process, we implemented Rakshak through the Nagpur Municipal Council.
Do you use micro spray heads or dripping emitters for the road side trees?
We use the capillary wicks for trees since the design is more robust and there are no issues of clogging due to harsh water. Also, it is most suitable to the local weather conditions of Nagpur. We wanted a system that would be extremely simple to use in its functionality and operation.
Do you use sub-surface drip irrigation for watering?
We use sub-surface deep root irrigation system to water the trees. This directly injects the water into the root zone of the plant/tree without any wastage.
How do you maintain the water application efficiency?
Rakshak is a self-water tree guard and it is equipped with a flexible rubber pipe which stores the water up to 15-20 days and gradually mositurizes the root zone of the tree. This system regulates the water flow deep into the ground and with the help of the capillary wicks, adequate water is discharged into the root zone.
Do you use recycled, reclaimed or regular water for drip irrigation?
We are trying our level best to use the recycled water for drip irrigation; however, our infrastructure needs to be more competent to assist us to better the environmental cause. We have been working with local municipal councils and we draw water from the nallahs and other dumping places but we still have a long way to go. Once the segregation of waste is streamlined, we would be able to utilize resources like water in a much efficient way.
Do you think the water supply is regulated to the trees under Rakshak?
It depends on the kind of contract we have signed with the authorities. If we are responsible for only one time implementation, then the customer takes care of it but if it is under our contract, we make sure that we do the timely refills for the continuous water supply.
Does the Sun affect the tubes used for drip irrigation by shortening their lifespan?
Our specially designed tubes can withstand up to 55 Degrees for 2 years, which means our designs are based on the current environmental conditions and it has proven to be best suited for a city like Nagpur. The tubes do turn brittle after 2 years but that is their lifespan and since Rakshak takes care of the plant in its infancy, after which the tree is big enough to sustain on its own.
Does the quality of the plastic affect the soil element?
In our case, it really doesn’t because our system does not allow a continuous pressure of water. Continuous pressure is something that might damage the pipes in the long run. We use our pipes vertically and the water supply is restricted for up to 4-6 hours once in 15 days.
Do you experience clogging in the pipes, if yes, then how do you maintain it?
We have encountered clogging, which results from waste particles. Also, if the water is littered with non-bio-degradable material, it might clog the tubes but our pipes are designed to deal with that too. There’s enough space in the pipes where the waste settles on its own. But while researching, we had foreseen these issues coming up and that is when we came up with the concept of capillary wicks. Capillary wicks are super simple and it can be used by any ordinary person too.
Is Rakshak cost efficient?
Very! Trees are invaluable to our environment and its time we plant more and strive towards preserving the ones that we already have. Our goal is to keep the trees alive at the infant stage through Rakshak and once they turn 4 or 5, they can sustain themselves.
Do you plan to expand this initiative in entire Nagpur?
Yes! We do. In the last 8 months, we have planted around 70,000 saplings for various government departments in Nagpur district and other adjoining places. We have undertaken and expanded this initiative to districts of Gondia, Amravati and even state of Chhattisgarh. We are working with 8 to 9 Municipal Councils in Nagpur district. What continues to inspire us is the survival rate of our trees and that is 90%. Trees motivate us!