SOON, Powai lake will not only see the construction of a crocodile park, fishing will also be banned and sewer water stopped from entering the lake. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) standing committee, earlier this week, had passed a proposal put forth by former Congress corporator Pravin Chheda in this regard.
“We had received several complaints against people carrying out fishing activities in the lake. Besides, crocodiles need protection and the lake is a natural habitat. So, we have decided to ban fishing activities totally to protect the existing crocodiles,” said BMC Commissioner Ajoy Mehta.
“In fact, we are planning to ban all other activities like angling and net fishing. We have already closed the sewer lines leading to the lake. Work is on to construct a pipeline outside the lake, which will carry sewer water from residential societies directly to the sewerage pumping station. Once sewer water is stopped from entering the lake, it will help control growth of water hyacinth.”
“Moreover, we will also get at least four to five aerators that will not only beautify the place but also increase the levels of dissolved oxygen… Tendering for the same are in process,” said Mehta. The civic body plans to install aerating fountains to improve the quality of water in the lake. It is likely to employ the existing musical fountains (currently non-functional) as aerators.
However, a part of the project is likely to get delayed due to the construction of the fully-elevated Mumbai Metro Line 6 (Lokhandwala-Jogeshwari-Vikhroli-Kanjurmarg corridor).
“We had a plan to construct a huge garden along the pathways in the lake. Now, parts of the project, including the garden, is likely to be delayed. However, we will still get the old patch of garden near the lake repaired,” said Mehta.
“It is questionable what activities are being carried out in the disguise of fishing. Hence, to ensure safety in the area and stop pollution, we have decided to stop fishing activities,” said a senior civic official.
The move to ban fishing has irked members of Maharashtra State Anglers’ Association (MSAA), who carry out fishing activities in the lake as a sport. The members have decided to submit a presentation to the mayor, municipal commissioner and the BMC standing committee chairman against the decision.
“There was no problem till date… this is the handiwork of a former corporator, who wants to get angling activity at the lake stopped. Our lease is valid till 2020 and we have also cleared all charges for the same. We have a proper field station. We are well aware that crocodiles are present in the lake and we maintain eco-diversity of the water body,” said MSAA secretary Kamlesh Sharma.
“These sewer inlets have been polluting the lake and destroying the crocodile basking area, not us. Under the name of beautification and revamp, the civic authorities have actually destroyed the natural habitat and basking area… and now wants to develop a crocodile park. The civic body has failed to understand the importance of a unique organisation like MSSA.”
Pravin Chheda, the former corporator, meanwhile, welcomed the move. “The number of crocodiles in the lake are reducing and nothing was being done to check the pollution levels in the lake. There was an urgent need to not just save the existing crocodile but also increasing their number. Hence, we proposed a crocodile park. This move will put eastern suburbs on the tourists’ list, as there are no crocodile parks across the country.”