It may have recently been given the status of a ‘national lake’ but that hasn’t changed the sad reality that the Powai Lake is today a stinking, muddy water body in desperate need of cleaning up. But that’s exactly what the BMC has not done. Despite Rs 40 crore being allocated in 2011 for de-silting the lake, a mere Rs 4 crore of that amount has been spent on cleaning the filth — leaving behind a lake that stinks so badly that even morning walkers now steer clear of it.
Local residents allege that for the past two years, BMC workers have not cleared the silt, which is supposed to be done before each monsoon. Worse, the 17 floodgates, which are supposed to be opened only if there is severe water-logging in adjacent areas, are apparently opened every night, allowing sewerage water to pollute the lake.
This pollution has reached such a level that the stink from the silt and the debris is keeping locals away from sitting or walking near the lake. The BMC has kept Rs 1 crore in this year’s budget provision for the cleaning of the lake. But drainage issues remain unresolved say locals, with most of the sewage lines allegedly not being repaired during the beautification work last year. Speaking to SMD, Sudhir Shetty, a local resident, said, “I have been writing to various departments of the BMC, asking them to follow up but nothing is done. There is debris lying near the lake and dirty water is flowing in. ”
No hope in sight
When contacted, BMC’s Storm Water Drain department Chief Engineer, L Vhatkar, said, “There is a clear case for cleaning the lake. Yes, we do have 17 gates which we open in case of a flood. But if some mischievous locals open these gates and allow sewage water to flow in to the lake, the concerned department needs to look into it. The drainage system is properly connected to the mains and there is no other outlet that can pollute the lake apart from the flood gates.” Asked when the lake would be de-silted this year, considering the rains are less than two months away, BMC’s senior Hydraulic Engineer, R Bambale, under whose jurisdiction the lake falls, said, “We have not given the contract for de-silting the lake to anyone yet for this year.”