Pollutants choke city’s ponds and lake, turn them into an eyesore
POORLY MAINTAINED Citizens say that the corporation has failed to maintain the lakes regularly
The Gothivali lake in Ghansoli was once a picturesque sight to behold. Over the years, though, accumulated waste choked t he 3.5- hectare water body and made it an eyesore.
This is not the only example in which the authorities have neglected the conservation of a water body. Recently, there were t wo i ncidents of f i sh dying i n Karave Lake and Ghansoli Lake.
These incidents have once a g ain brought to t he f ore the issue of polluted lakes. Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), which has been investigating the incidents, has found that the reason why the fish died may be the pollutants released by the active sewage lines in the area. “We are undertaking a chemical analysis of water from both the lakes, and will come out with a report, which we will submit to NMMC for further action,” said R Vasawe, subregional officer, Navi Mumbai I of MPCB.
There are 35 l akes and ponds in the city under the NMMC, but most of t hem are in a deplorable state. The major water bodies in the city are Agroli Lake in Belapur, Belapur pond, Belapur Killa Lake, Karave lake in Nerul, Juinagar lake, Turbhe lake, Kopar Khairane lake, Gothivali lake in Ghansoli, Rabada lake, Airoli l ake, Diva l ake, and Khokad lake in Digha.
The Belapur node accounts for 28% of the lakes in the city. Next is Ghansoli, which has 25% of the lakes.
A few years ago, fish died in the old Juhugaon pond at Vashi. As for the Karave lake and the Nerul lake, these are polluted by the local people, who wash their clothes with detergent here.
Besides, the Nir malya Kunds are brimming over, and floral and other wastes are littered around and in the lake. “These water bodies need to be cleaned. They act as habitats for fish and other forms of aquatic life,” said Nilesh Deshpande, 34, a Nerul resident.
Residents alleged that these lakes are full of sludge, which accumulates because chemicals are mixed with the water, and which the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation does not clear away.
“Water bodies are poorly maintained by the c iv i c authorities. Moreover, residents play a bigger role in polluting the lakes by dumping waste materials in them without thinking of the future consequences,” said Surendra Kumar, 49, a Belapur resident.
Most of t he major l akes in the city were last cleaned under the corporation’s ‘ Lake Vision’ initiative in 2009- 11, at a cost of Rs 20 crore. Officials claimed to have successfully completed the project, saying that most lakes in the city are now in good condition.
“Under t he Lake Vision plan, we de- silted the water, divided t he l ake i nto t wo parts, with one part kept for idol immersion; also, we constructed benches and walkways in t he area, and also made slopes that connected to the municipality drains so that the soap and water released during washing clothes do not get mixed with the lake water. Walls made of eco- friendly stones have also being put up so as to maintain the ecological balance of the water bodies,” said Mohan Dagaonkar, city engineer, NMMC.
Why, then, are most of the lakes in a sorry condition?
Citizens say that the corporation has failed to maintain the lakes regularly.
“The authorities f orget to look after the water bodies once the project is over. Secondly, residents t hrow waste in the water bodies and pollute them. NMMC should do regular maintenance, and fine those who pollute the lakes and ponds,” said Vrinda Ashokan, 32, a Vashi resident.
Residents of the Belapur Killa area said that the lake in their vicinity, the famous Belapur Killa lake, was dirty for several years, and it took their repeated complaints to make the authorities clean it up.
Dilip Kadam, 72, a local resident, said, “We have been constantly urging the authorities to maintain the Belapur Killa area, including the lakes and the fort, because the area is of historical significance. The lake stood unclean for more than a decade, and was cleaned once around four years ago.”
A case in point is the city’s favourite spot, the mini seashore, which is littered with plastic.
“The holding pond is now polluted, and it is sad to see people throwing waste into the lake when they come for a walk. While some throw packets of foodstuff, others throw flowers in plastic bags,” said Madhavi Singh, 23, a Vashi resident.
Authorities are of the view that preventing pollution of the water bodies is as much the residents’ job as the corporations.
Coloured plastics are more har mful as t heir pigments contain heavy metals that are highly toxic, such as copper, lead, chromium, cobalt, selenium, and cadmium.
“We do re gular clean- up of the water bodies and bioremediation in NMMC area at a large cost. We urge residents to be eco- friendly and not pollute the lakes and ponds with plastic,” said a civic official from the engineering department of NMMC.
Civic chief Dinesh Waghmare said that the civic body is taking all necessary measures to ensure that the lakes and ponds are cleaned up. “We are trying our best to preserve the ecological balance in the city, and ensure regular maintenance of water bodies. We are also the first in the country to launch the Eco- city cell, through which we are striving to achieve a well- balanced environment.”
Environmentalists stress that it is high time the authorities and residents make a combined effort to preserve the environment.
“Navi Mumbai is blessed with many water bodies, but lacks the culture of maintaining these. In Navi Mumbai, the holding ponds have a clear reason to exist, because the city i s below t he high t i de line. That apart, we are losing the opportunity to make nice recreational zones of our lakes. Closer home, the beautiful Sabarmati riverfront is an excellent example of what can be achieved if the authorities and local population work together,” said environmentalist Sandeep Bangia, member of Navi Mumbai Environment Preservation Society (NMEPS).