The Rs 5-crore beautification of the Swami Vivekanand Sarovar, better known as the Bandra Talao, will have the most important ingredient missing if action isn’t taken immediately, claim activists.

Fishing in progress at the Talao
Fishing in progress at the Talao

Rampant illegal fishing is posing a grave risk to the Talao’s ecosystem, with the depleting fish population leading to algae proliferating and giving the water a dirty look, said Anil Joseph, chairman of Perry Cross Road Residents Association.

A proud youth with his catchA proud youth with his catch

Joseph added that the racket, with the fish being sold at high rates, attracts children and puts them at risk as well. He said a small boy had fallen into the water just months ago. “Illegal fishing takes place all 24 hours at the Talao. Most people come in the night, however, as the bigger fish come out then.

They manage to hook fish weighing as high as 8 kg, which fetch a very high price in the market as they are river (or sweet water fish) and command higher prices than sea fish. It’s almost like a small fishing industry is operating from the Talao,” said Joseph. He said that the fishing is causing grave damage to the ecosystem of the Talao.

“The fish, by feeding on algae and other micro organisms, clean the Talao and if they don’t exist, the Talao’s water is at risk. People are just thinking about the beautification of all the things around the Talao walking paths, water fountain etc but forgetting about the source of the beauty. If the Talao itself remains dirty, what use is the beautification?”

“Children go fishing at the Talao and risk their lives. A few months back, a child was rescued after he fell into the Talao.” Joseph said, adding, “I demand that the Talao should be manned around the clock and should be barricaded in such a way that no one can fish there. Surveillance is especially important in the night. I have complained to top BMC officials and local politicians.”

All for nought?
Beautification of the 7.5-acre Bandra Talao is being done at a cost of R5 crore. The proposed plan includes cleaning silt from the lake, building boating facilities, a fountain with laser lights, an amphitheatre, a walkway along the lake, and a surrounding wall.