Coronavirus outbreak: Despite lockdown, picnics continue around Vihar lake

Updated: Apr 21, 2020, 07:34 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

Locals have alleged that while outsiders indulge in this, some tribals have been fishing there illegally; some also wash their clothes, cook and then spend time there

A source alleged that on an average, around 200 to 300 people have been going to Vihar lake on a daily basis
A source alleged that on an average, around 200 to 300 people have been going to Vihar lake on a daily basis

Activities like picnics on the periphery of Vihar lake are not only unaffected during the lockdown, some locals claim they have increased. They claim illegal fishing is also on at the lake.

A source from Aarey Milk Colony claimed that after the lockdown was implemented, on an average, around 200 to 300 people have been going there on a daily basis. The source also alleged that there has been an increase in the construction of hutments there.

No patrolling
The source said, "Near Vihar lake, close to Saibangoda village near the Film City, fishing and picnics have increased in the past 10 to 15 days, as there is hardly any patrolling by the police and the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) staff." Fishing is prohibited at Vihar and Tulsi lakes. Locals claim that some other residents also go to the lake to wash their clothes, cook and spend time there, like an outing.

Locals are spotted drying their clothes after washing them in the lake. Other locals have claimed they then spend time there like an outing
Locals are spotted drying their clothes after washing them in the lake. Other locals have claimed they then spend time there like an outing

Another source from Aarey said, "The lockdown has given an opportunity for some people to construct illegal hutments near Film City and Saibangoda. Large chunks of land are being barricaded with wooden compounds and green cloth. Inside this they have constructed hutments and they will increase if authorities don't initiate action."

'Stop people from going'
The Vihar lake area has always been in the news for the wrong reasons, be it illicit liquor brewing units or illegal fishing activities.

"There are many forest trails near Royal Palms, Film City, Maroshipada and Saibangoda that lead to Vihar lake, and these are used by people who go there to party and for illegal fishing. The authorities should stop people from going to Vihar lake, only then will illegal fishing and other activities stop," said a local resident from Royal Palms.

When asked about the allegations, Ajay Rathore, Chief Engineer, Hydraulic Engineering Department of BMC said, "We will immediately look into the same and necessary steps will be taken."

Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forest, (Wildlife - West), Sunil Limaye said, "We will take strict action as per the law and also appeal to the police to take action against those breaking the Epidemic Diseases Act. The Forest Department has already increased patrolling in the area and those trespassing will face strict action."

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