A survey conducted by Delhi Parks and Gardens Society reveals that out of 611 water bodies in the capital, 274 have dried up. As many as 190 have been lost forever and cannot be revived. The ones that are left have water in a terrible condition. Read stories of a few such lakes and what led to their poor state.
Sardar Patel Lake
Sardar Patel Lake located in Rohini, New Delhi was once a popular attraction. It is now getting polluted and dried up. Narendra Singh who is coming to the lake from past eight years said: “Earlier there used to be many fishes and the lake was about 15 feet deep, but now it is just two to three feet. Now I and my kid buy fishes from the market and drop them in the lake. We are doing our part to bring back the beauty of the lake but I believe the government is not making any serious effort to improve the condition.”
Subash Solanki who is a physical fitness teacher and works just beside the lake said: “Due to the concrete construction around the lake rain-water is not entering into it. People often throw waste in the lake. Earlier there used to be cool breeze but now its just bad smell. The land is under the control of Delhi Development Authority(DDA) and they are at fault for this condition of the lake.”
Hauz Khas Lake
“The lake stinks. It is covered with algae and is a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Earlier I used to go there in the evening to walk. The fresh air was a stress buster but I don’t go there anymore,” said Raghav, a nearby resident.
DDA is working along with engineer Tarun Nanda to revive this lake. Tarun has signed an MOU with DDA. The government has granted him permission to clean up Hauz Khas Lake and has given the space required to build wetlands to act as sewage treatment infrastructure. He started a fundraising campaign to carry out his work. People can support him by adopting an island. He has already designed and helped two NGOs succeed with this approach in two slums in Delhi and built two private wetlands.
“Instead of building more failing sewage treatment plants let’s turn our existing lakes and rivers into water-purifying wetland ecosystems that can cope with the amount of waste we dump inside,” he said.
Bhalswa Lake is located in Northwest Delhi. Once it’s beauty attracted a lot of tourists and was host to many migratory birds, but now it has become a garbage dumping ground. Residents of the nearby unauthorized colonies dump their household waste in the lake.
DDA identifies this place as an “Adventure Complex” but there is hardly any sports facility that is functioning, boats are just left lying in the lake unused.
Ganesh Khan Lake
Ganesh Khan Lake is located in Lal Kuan, the outskirts of Delhi. Most of the citizens including the government officials are unaware of this lake. This lake could be an excellent tourist destination because of its beauty.
But nearby colonies have destroyed its beauty. The lake is covered with algae and garbage. Nearby residents wash clothes here and dump their household waste. Raj Mandal, a nearby resident said: ” Earlier it used to be very beautiful, people used to take a bath there but now it has dried up and got polluted because of the residents’ activities.”
Old Fort Lake
Old Fort Lake
This water body was a part of the 16th-century fort and attracted more than 2,000 visitors on weekends. It was also famous for boating. As Yamuna river, which was the major source of this lake, changed its course, the laked met an ill fate and dried up.
This lake is being revived by the Archaeological Survey Of India. Rakesh, a worker there said: “The work was started six months ago and will continue for the next two years. The water will be filled from the Okhla Sewage Treatment Plant.”
This move is highly criticized by many NGOs as they believe that the water from the sewage plant would inhibit groundwater recharge.
The situation of lakes in Delhi is critical and requires immediate government action. These polluted lakes also adversely affect the groundwater. This could result in a deadly situation. According to the latest Niti Aayog’s report, Delhi will run out of groundwater by 2020 and India would be facing it’s worst water crisis.
This is the part 1 of the series in Part-2 we would inquire on how are our lakes are getting polluted. We will also touch the possible solution, which citizens can implement.
Photos: Rahul Satija