Victory for nature lovers: BMC to rescue Lokhandwala lake down in the dumps

Apr 25, 2015, 08:15 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

Illegal dumping has choked birding paradise, Lokhandwala lake and threatens its rich biodiversity; the BMC will now begin desilting the freshwater body and will also install a fence around it to prevent future problems

There is good news for nature lovers the BMC will soon begin desilting work at Lokhandwala lake, which is famous among birding enthusiasts. Illegal dumping of rubbish and other debris has choked this freshwater lake in Andheri (West) and is now a major hazard for the local biodiversity.

Illegal dumping has choked Lokhandwala lake and threatened its rich biodiversity
Illegal dumping has choked Lokhandwala lake and threatened its rich biodiversity

However, pressure from environmentalists ensured that the authorities sat up and took notice of the problem, and as a result, the lake will first be cleaned up and will then be fenced off to prevent future problems. For the past 20-odd years, local residents have been trying to protect the lake, but over the years, huge amounts of debris have collected in the lake and on the adjoining roads.

Some people also dump ‘nirmalya’ or offerings from puja at the lake, which threatens aquatic life in the water body. This not only spoils the natural beauty of the spot, but has also resulted in great damage to the lake and its flora and fauna. According to nature lovers, this has also resulted in the lake drying up.

Earlier, the lake would be full through most of the year, but this year, the lake has been almost completely dry since the third week of April. “In recent times the lake, and the forests around it, has begun to degrade as people throw garbage there.

The problem has been further compounded as the trees are being cut for firewood and the entire area around the lake has begun to look almost bald and devoid of its earlier vegetation. The photos itself show the extent of devastation.

Once the desilting is done and the fences are put up around the lake, all these activities will stop,” said nature lover Sumesh Lekhi from the group ‘Friends of The Environment’, which initiated the effort to save the lake.

The lake is home to quite a few bird species, including migratory birds in the winter, and is a popular haunt amongst birdwatchers as well as those who go there for morning and evening walks. These people now have a reason to rejoice as the desilting work will begin today and is expected to be completed in the first week of June.

“We have been fighting against the illegal dumping of debris into the Lokhandwala lake, which has rich biodiversity. We wanted the concerned authorities including the BMC, the mangroves cell and MHADA authorities to help us. After following up with them, we are happy to say that finally the desilting work will start soon.

By next year, we expect the fencing work around the lake to also be complete so that illegal dumping and fishing activity inside the lake is restricted,” added Sumesh Lekhi.

The activists are of the opinion that once the lake has been desilted, the breeding stock of fish will attract more fauna to the lake, come monsoon. Annual nesting sites of birds have been marked out so that they can be preserved during the desilting project.

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