Mumbai Members of Save Powai Lake campaign have requested him to direct BMC for ‘more planned’ cleaning.Powai lake, one of the most picturesque spots of the city, becomes a cause of concern to its nearby residents every monsoon. With just a couple of months left for the onset of monsoons this year, locals are trying to put pressure on the civic body to speed up its desiltation process in the lake.

Members of the Save Powai Lake campaign, started in 2000 for reviving the disappearing lake, have written a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and urged him to direct the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to execute the process of cleaning, desilting and plugging of the sewer lines in a more planned way. “The Centre has set aside Rs 637 crore for National Lake Conservation and Desiltation and Beautification works. Work at the lake is being done at the cost of Rs 90 crore. The lake has survived for about 118 years and can see more such years if citizens and the civic body work together for its revival. We have written a letter to the PM as he is also in charge of the environment and forest department,” said Sudhir Shetty, campaign member and general secretary, BJP’s South Cell region.

The residents are miffed with the BMC’s “half-baked” way of working by starting desiltation without proper planning. “Since 2000, we have been observing the work done by the civic body at the lake. Earlier, they planned bio-remedial process to revive and beautify the water body but they stopped the process in between. About Rs 2 crore were used in the work,” said Shetty.

He added that the main desilting work in the lake has not been carried out properly. “The civic body started desilting immediately after the deluge. We have seen that the work is not done at the centre of the lake, but only at its periphery. The sediment is kept on the sides, which again gets washed back into the lake in the next monsoon, thereby defeating the whole purpose of the exercise,” said Shetty.

The residents had suggested the BMC to use the sediments to make gardens in and around the area. “But our suggestions were not taken seriously. Instead they have planned cosmetic changes like musical water fountains which would spoil the natural sanctity of the spot. We don’t want such artificial facets. What we need is planned desiltation before the monsoons which will ensure that the area doesn’t get flooded,” said Shetty.

In 2000, residents with the support of former MP Kirit Somaiya had filed a petition in the high court to direct the BMC to take up the beautification and desiltation work in a systematic manner. “Though a lot of desiltation work in the Powai lake is over, a lot still needs to be done. Around 300 acres of beautification work has been completed but we need to go stronger with desilting work before the monsoons. Earlier, we had suggested the civic body to undertake a two-way desiltation work which ensured that the whole area and not just the peripheries gets free of silt. This process has been carried out effectively. But since the area has a tendency to get flooded during monsoons, we need to systematically desilt it before the rains,” said Somaiya.

The group plans to take up the issue even more strongly after the general elections. “If the BMC doesn’t take proper action and ensures that the money is spent in the correct manner, we will take further action after the elections. We might file another PIL in the High Court. We need to know how the tax payers’ money is utilised and what civic body plans to do with this important lake,” said Somaiya.

Powai desilting
The BMC has started desilting work from April 6. It has appointed around 44 contractors for clearing major and minor nullahs of silt, and claims to complete the work by May 25.

The civic body will be spending around Rs 45.13 crore on the project.

The desilting of water entrances and road side drains will be carried out by their concerned Ward agencies.

Article by Dhanya Nair (sourced from here