Mumbai: Lokhandwala lake clean-up begins after 10 years
After clamour from residents, debris and silt to be removed, water body to be fenced and lights to be installed around it
It took 10 long years for the locals of Oshiwara-Lokhandwala to finally be heard. Their campaign against illegal dumping of debris and waste in the Lokhandwala lake has got through to the authorities, who have got down to cleaning up the filthy water body, that used to see several winter migratory birds visiting the area.
According to suggestions from local residents, the lake will also soon be barricaded to prevent any more dumping here. The barricades around the entire circumference of the Lokhandwala lake will prevent people from dumping pooja waste and other garbage into the lake, said Dhaval Shah, a member of the Oshiwara Lokhandwala Citizen's Association (OLCA), adding, "The flooring in front of the lake is being renovated along with the installation of benches for residents to relax disturbing the wildlife."
The lake that sees several species of birds, including migratory ones, has been used for dumping waste for years
Some nature-lovers have, however, raised concerns over the walking track along the periphery of the lake. Environmentalist Sumish Lekhi had alleged earlier that this would require the removal of green vegetation. This, he said, would have a negative impact on the biodiversity around the lake. The lake clean-up was earlier taken up three years ago, but it was halted midway owing to certain logistical hurdles.
Mangrove cover destroyed
"I met the MHADA contractor recently when he told me that his team was following the blueprint we had given them three years ago. After having inadvertently destroyed about 1,000 sqft of mangrove cover here, we had given them a checklist of how beautification can be done without harming biodiversity. The walking track around the lake may destroy vegetation, we told them. The one on Lagoon road that runs parallel to the lake is fine though," Lekhi said. The beautification work, including the installation of lights along this road, being undertaken by MLA Bharati Lavekar through her MLA funds.
A walking track around the lake and its approach road is also being built
"Care is being taken to the existing green cover is not destroyed. Work will be done in phases and an area will be dedicated for people to practise yoga near the lake too. Chain-link fencing will also be erected around the lake so that no one dumps waste into the lake," Lavekar said.
Locals fight to protect the lake
Filmmaker, activist and chairman of OLCA Ashok Pandit said that the locals of Lokhandwala along with some NGOs have been fighting hard to protect the lake and the mangroves in the area. "But the MLA and local corporator hardly paid any heed to our requests in the last four years. With the elections around the corner, it seems they have woken up. They might make huge promises but we will trust them once the entire work at the lake is completed," Pandit said.
Debris and waste are being dumped in and around the Lokhandwala lake for years
The Lokhandwala lake is home to various species of birds including migratory birds during the winter. It has, however, been used to throw plastic and flower waste despite the BMC's instructions against dumping and fishing in the lake. There is a nirmalya kalash placed near the lake but people still throw polythene bags filled with garlands and other pooja material into the lake.
Residents have been trying to protect the lake for the last 25 years in the best possible way but to no avail. Dumping is one reason why the lake begins drying up by May/June, nature lovers believe. In 2014, Friends of the Environment group was created to take up environmental causes. Dr Chandrakant Jain, Sumesh Lekhi and Aashish Mehta have been trying to educate people through this group ever since.
1,000 sq ft
Mangrove cover around the lake destroyed three years ago
The lake sees many visitors who come here for a peaceful stroll
Birds found around Lokhandwala lake
Purple Swamphen, Garganey Duck, Coppersmith Barbet, White-Throated Kingfisher, Black Kite, Rose-Ringed Parakeet, Spot-Billed Duck, Indian Pond Heron, Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus), Common Myna, Cattle Egret, Red-Vented Bulbul.
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