Lake cleaning initiatives to revive dying lakes in Nagpur

Lakes are an intrinsic and important part of our environment and a vital water resource. They play a vital role in an urban environment and substantiate water resources required for millions of people living in a city

Lakes are an intrinsic and important part of our environment and a key water resource. They play a vital role in the life of the citizens of the city and even towns and play a large role in supporting our society. They are the support unit for millions of people in this age of rapid industrialisation and urbanisation.

In recent times we have witnessed severe water shortage in Indian cities. The recent water crisis in Shimla, when residents went without water for more than a week or the recent report of NITI Aayog which has predicted that Bengaluru will run out of ground water in two years from now are looming crises staring straight in our faces. After the severe crisis in water supply, local bodies, irrigation departments, state and central governments and other NGO’s are showing keen interest on cleaning the lakes and revitalising the existing remaining water bodies. It is really a grim situation that at this stage also the action plan proposed to restore the polluted lakes involves only structural oriented activities and is not concerned with the ecological components of the system such as flora and fauna and the environmental aspects. The structural components like desilting, strengthening sluice and weir repairs play a very crucial role in the action plan for conservation of a water body. The action plan does not address the waste water, solid waste, public awareness and training, etc. Lake conservation is a sensitive issue and need to be tackled wisely before it causes havoc and irreparable damage to the environment.

To make a change and improve the lakes of Nagpur and with the intention to make it a social initiative, Nagpur Municipal Corporation (NMC) together with Equi-city team of All India Institute of Local-Self Government with active participation of NGOs like Paryavaran Prerna Vidarbha, Swacch Association, Center for Sustainable Development, NEERI, Airforce Vayu Sena Nagar, NCC Naval Wing, Mah 4 Battalion, National Civil Defence College (NCDC), Nagpur Garden Club, NMC Fire Dept. and the very active Talav Bachav Samiti commenced a phase of comprehensive and rigorous Futala Lake Cleanliness and Rejuvenation drive on 27th May 2017, at Futala Lake, Nagpur.

The scope of the cleaning and restoration programme included — Enzyme treatment of lake water to clean it and remove the algae, de-silting the lake and strengthening its bund to increase storage; removing solid waste and weeds from the lake to increase oxygen content and remove toxins. The program also included planting trees along the bund to increase green cover and improve the biodiversity and launch extensive awareness campaigns to ensure active involvement of local community and sustenance of the programme.

Futala Lake is a prominent landmark of the city. It is one of the oldest lakes in Nagpur built by Bhonsale Kings of Nagpur. The lake is spread over 60 acres and is known for its colour fountains. In the evening the place is illuminated with halogen lights and Tonga (horse carriage) ride is very popular with the populace. The lake is surrounded on three sides by forest and a landscaped Chowpatty on one side. In the absence of maintenance, the use of this historic lake was limited to cattle washing only. It was therefore decided in the year 2003 to beautify

Lake cleaning initiatives like that promoted by Equi-City team in Nagpur will certainly increase or restore the water holding capacity of the lake, improve the water quality of the lake and evolve sustainable management plan after the restoration of the lake

this lake with National Institute of Technology (NIT) fund with equal aid from State Government. This spot has now become one of the most attractive spots of Nagpur City and on an average more than a thousand visitors frequent the lake daily.

But even after the beautification work has taken place, we can observe many grave problems in this area. It is seen that Futala lake water is polluted due to the following reasons:

♦♦ Surface run-off and agriculture run-off

♦♦ Washing of clothes, animals and vehicles

♦♦ Effluents from upstream surrounding residential area

♦♦ Immersion of idols of God and Goddess during festive season

♦♦ Discharge of domestic sewage and dumping of garbage

♦♦ The lake area is also misused as public toilets leading to unhygienic environment and increasing the organic load in the lake

♦♦ To the south of the lake, its banks are used as crematorium

♦♦ Dumping of garbage and other wastes around the lake is taking place, which not only pollutes the lake but also spoils its beauty.
♦♦ Cattle grazing can be seen to the west and north of the lake.

♦♦ The volume of the Futala Lake is decreasing due to the accumulation of silt coming from the run off.

♦♦ The above mentioned causes play a very crucial role in the degradation of the lake. The social and livelihood issues are influencing the activities. Such activities and restoration drives are having a great effect on the water body as well as on the society’s awareness about such crucial issues. Following are some of the highlighted objectives/ outcomes of these activities:

♦♦ To increase or restore the water holding capacity of the lake.

♦♦ To improve the water quality of the lake.

♦♦ To evolve sustainable management plan after the restoration of the lake.

Restoration of polluted lakes like Futala involves not only the repairing of physical structures but also improving the quality of water. Both the activities need to run simultaneously. Such awareness drives are beneficial not just for the environment and society at large but also for the water bodies. Such activities have to be undertaken in order to ensure that not only administration and local bodies but the citizens engage themselves round the year to improve our dying water bodies. This effort has shown desired results but there are many miles to go before we actually salvage the situation completely.

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