Centre steps in
to save Powai lake
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
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
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.