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

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - NAVI MUMBAI - Sang­hami­tra Sengupta sang­hami­tra. sengupta@ hin­dus­tan­times. com

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).

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