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Centre steps in to save Powai lake
-J Dey
Indian Express -Monday, December 28, 1998.

       MUMBAI, December 27: The Ministry of Environment and Forests has prepared a 'Save Powai Lake' project and recommended urgent measures to check the lake's pollution level.The project was cleared in a special meeting of the Ministry on Wednesday, and international funding agencies are to be approached for financial support.
       The Union government has also recommended composition of a Lake Development Authority (LDA) for Powai under the chairmanship of D M Sukhthankar, former chief secretary of Maharashtra. Other members of the LDA will be the mayor of Mumbai, the municipal commissioner, secretary of Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), the local corporator, local MLA, a representative of the Environment Ministry, two NGOs and environment secretary of the state government.
       Bombay Environmental Action Group activist Debi Goenka, who was called to New Delhi for the meeting, said in view of paucity of funds, a detailed project report will have to be prepared immediately for placing the project for foreign funding, particularly by the World Bank. Also, the ministry has sought major modifications in an estimated Rs 41-crore project report prepared by BMC, Goenka added.
       As part of the preventive measures, the Ministry has requested the Central Pollution Control Board to ask its counterpart MPCB to take immediate action for preventing and controlling pollution of the lake due to discharge of waste water in the surrounding areas.
       Though the Indian Institute of Technology, located near Powai lake, has a sewage treatment plant, it is seldom in operation. As a result, a large quantity of pollutants from the area ends up in the lake, Goenka pointed out.
       The MPCB has been asked to stop the flow of effluents (from industries located in the lake's catchment area) into the waters. A check on disposal of garbage and other urban waste and measures to prevent washing of vehicles in the water have been suggested.
       The ministry, under provisions of the Environment (Protection) Acts, 1986, has taken a serious view of the large number of stone quarries, crushing units, cement mixing plants and asphalt manufacturing plants near the lake. The government has been asked to ensure that no liquid or solid waste from these units is disposed into the lake.It has also been suggested that the state government should take immediate steps to remove encroachments from the catchment area of the lake.
       The 'Save Powai Lake' project assumes significance in light of the fact that Union Minister for Environment & Forests Suresh Prabhu visited the lake on December 13 to take stock of the situation.
       Residents of Powai and environmentalists, including members of the Maharashtra Angling Club, had staged a demonstration near the lake on October 11 to highlight its condition. Many school children had joined the demonstration.
       The history of Powai lake dates back to around 1894, when the Britishers had earmarked the five sq km area as water reserve in view of an impending drought. The environs around the lake area later evolved into a spot forrecreation, before the builders dug in and degradation began.

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