Mumbai: Vihar lake venue for booze parties at night, say tribals
Tribals say eco-sensitive zone is used by picnickers in the day, and youngsters as a drinking spot later
Authorities seem to be waiting for a disaster in the Vihar lake area with the Sai Bangoda pada near Aarey Colony becoming a party spot. Youngsters have been frequenting the venue for parties, entering the lake and leaving behind empty liquor bottles, captured in a picture clicked by a nature lover. All this, without any monitoring by local authorities or the police.
People usually reach the banks of the lake through a trail passing through the Bangoda village adjacent to Aarey Milk Colony. The portion of Vihar lake on the Bangoda end falls under the BMC's jurisdiction. On Sunday, a nature lover, who had visited the spot, was shocked to see around 100 people partying on the banks of the lake along with children who were enjoying a dip in the lake. Some people had also made temporary tents using plastic sheets.
The Vihar lake surroundings are routinely used as a party spot, with temporary plastic-sheet tents built, especially during the monsoon
A local tribal said that this was not just a day-time activity, "youngsters also visit the lake during the night party through the night, cooking along the banks, and taking a dip in the lake inebriated." Sai Bangoda village and surrounding areas have been infamous for its illicit liquor brewing units.
The nature lover who noticed the picnickers, said, "People venturing into the water is a major cause of concern because there have been several instances of drowning in the Vihar lake. The BMC should take a serious note of this and along with the police should act against this as partying in this sensitive zone is creating a nuisance for the wildlife and also polluting nature here."
'Open for public instead'
Environmentalist Stalin D of NGO Vanashakti has a different idea. He has in the past written to the Municipal Commissioner Pravin Pardeshi requesting that places like Vihar lake and Powai lake should be converted into recreational places where people can go along with families. "In Mumbai, there are very few places left for recreational activities and places like Vihar lake and Powai lake have a scenic view. Instead of restricting people, the BMC should formally open them to the public. This will help proper monitoring and will keep away miscreants," he said.
In the letter, Stalin had also said that large portions of the forested area near Powai garden can be developed into a botanical park since it has natural forest vegetation and the terrain is most suited for it. "Attractions like butterfly gardens, medicinal plant gardens, flower beds, etc can be created at the site without destroying vegetation. Presently the site is used by vagabonds, drug addicts and drunkards. This small forest can be made into a world-class destination in Mumbai," the letter stated.
Vihar lake history
After the 1993 bomb blasts, Vihar lake was closed to the public. This used to be among the favourite destinations for families to spend quality time. However, stating security concerns, the site has been closed for the past two decades. "The security can rather be enhanced by keeping it open till 7 pm, having more security personnel, CCTV cameras and also setting up a wired fence that will prevent disposal of trash by visitors into the lake," the letter had said, adding, "This can be a revenue spinner for BMC."
BMC assures action
Ashok Tawadia, chief engineer, Hydraulic Engineering department, said, "We have been taking action against such miscreants regularly with the help of the police. We are unaware of the recent partying incident. We will look into this and inform the police who will take appropriate action."
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