What makes Powai a prime residential locality is the presence of a lake. However, this lake, spreading across 600 sq hectares, is now full of water hyacinths and garbage.

Hence, representatives of IIT-Bombay along with the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) have kick-started ‘Powai Lake Rejuvenation’ project.

The 15-member team will include representatives from IIT-B, Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Bombay Natural History Society, MMRDA, MPCB, town planning and directorate of national lake conservation. The project will be spearheaded by additional municipal commissioner (Projects) Rajiv Jalota.

Professor Shyam Asolekar, head of the centre for environmental studies and engineering at IIT-B, will coordinate the project. “If everything goes as per plan, in 6-7 years the lake will get a new lease of life,” he said. Asolekar has handled the Mansagar (Jalmahal) rejuvenation project of Jaipur, which is believed to be India’s first lake rejuvenation project.

In the first phase, the BMC is fixing all the drains, while IIT-B is working on a natural water-filter bed at drain points to check the pollutants. The next phase will focus on the removal of water hyacinths and de-silting. In the last phase, they will beautify the lake which will include building of small islands for birds, crocodiles and butterflies, solar lighting and floating pavements. The draft plan also talks about water sports and leisure fishing.

The BMC has allocated Rs1 crore for the project. Jalota said, “Besides our own ongoing work, the first phase is the test of technologies and systems provided by IIT-B. Depending on the success, more funds can be allocated later.”

Ironically, while identifying sewage drain spots, the BMC realised they play a major role in polluting the lake. Sources said there are 17 such spots. An official blamed MSRDC’s haphazard work for damaging and choking pipes. Jalota said the sewer is now being diverted away from the lake.