For years, the Powai Lake has been a popular attraction for Mumbaikars, whether it is families who want to spend some quality time or couples who want to revel in the beauty of nature.
But over the years, the sanctity of this lake has been under threat as the authorities are being notified of fishing activities and the release of sewage water into the water body.
In a move to save the lake, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee has approved a proposal presented by former Congress corporator Pravin Chheda, reported the Indian Express.
As per this proposal, the Powai Lake is all set to get a crocodile park for the protection of the reptiles, and a total ban on the fishing activities. The proposal also aims to tackle the problem of sewage water entering and polluting the lake.
Speaking to the Indian Express, BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta said, “We had received several complaints against people carrying out fishing activities in the lake. Besides, crocodiles need protection and the lake is a natural habitat. So, we have decided to ban fishing activities totally to protect the existing crocodiles.”
The BMC is also planning to ban angling and net fishing. Even though the civic body has managed to close the sewer lines leading to the lake, they are now working on constructing a pipeline outside the lake which will carry sewer water from residential societies directly to the sewerage pumping station, mentioned the report.
“Once sewer water is stopped from entering the lake, it will help control growth of water hyacinth,” added Mehta.
Also, the BMC is also planning to install four to five aerators, not only as part of the beautification project but also to increase the levels of dissolved oxygen, thus improving the quality of water in the lake.
The plans also include the construction of a garden along the pathways in the lake, said Mehta. But in the light of the ongoing construction of the fully-elevated Mumbai Metro Line 6 (Lokhandwala-Jogeshwari-Vikhroli-Kanjurmarg corridor), some parts of the project will take time for execution.
“Now, parts of the project, including the garden, is likely to be delayed. However, we will still get the old patch of garden near the lake repaired,” Mehta clarified.
The civic body’s decision to strike down on fishing has drawn the anger of the Maharashtra State Anglers’ Association (MSAA), who carry out sport fishing activities in the lake. The members are now planning to submit a presentation to the mayor, municipal commissioner and the BMC standing committee chairman to protest the decision.
“There was no problem till date… This is the handiwork of a former corporator, who wants to get angling activity at the lake stopped. We have a proper field station. Our lease is valid until 2020, and we have also cleared all charges for the same. We are well aware that crocodiles are present in the lake and we maintain eco-diversity of the water body, ” MSAA secretary Kamlesh Sharma told the Indian Express.
Corporator Pravin Chheda, expressed his support to the move saying, “The number of crocodiles in the lake are reducing, and nothing was being done to check the pollution levels in the lake. There is an urgent need to save the existing crocodiles and to increase their number. Hence, we proposed a crocodile park. This move will put the eastern suburbs on tourist lists, as there are no crocodile parks across the country.”
While the plan has received mixed responses from different groups, if executed well, it certainly seems one step forward to saving not just the quality of water but also the eco-diversity of the Powai lake.
(Edited by Shruti Singhal)