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Bringing Pune's Katraj Lake back from the dead

Wednesday, 21 November 2012 - 3:15pm IST | Place: Pune | Agency: DNA
The Pune Municipal Corporation’s failure to remove hyacinth from the Katraj Lake on a regular basis has resulted in the ecological death of the water body. Environmentalists Speak Up on the causes, curative and preventive measures to revive the water body and avoid such an occurrence again...

The Pune Municipal Corporation’s failure to remove hyacinth from the Katraj Lake on a regular basis has resulted in the ecological death of the water body. Environmentalists Speak Up on the causes, curative and preventive measures to revive the water body and avoid such an occurrence again...

Need to place some aerators in the lake to give it a new life
The phenomenon of fish deaths has not happened for the first time, but yes this time a lot of fish have died. Though the main reason behind this crisis is decrease in dissolved oxygen (DO) level in the lake, there are other reasons for the same.
Apart from growth of hyacinth, growth of different microorganisms, lead content in different water streams that enter the lake, etc. may also be responsible for it. However, it is difficult to determine any of this as of now.
Removing or controlling the growth of hyacinth may have helped, but not much. At the most, may be a fewer number of fish would have died, if the growth of hyacinth had been controlled. Now, we need to place some aerators in the lake to restore its dissolved oxygen level and give it a new life. 
—Neelimkumar Khaire, Animal activist

Will appeal to civic chief to start regular testing of water
This is a serious problem. In fact, this issue should have been addressed much earlier. Ideally, regular tests should be done to check water and air pollution levels. Instead, we wait till such an incident occurs.  In fact, during my party meeting, I would appeal to all corporators and office bearers to take up the issue with the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and appeal to the municipal commissioner to start regular testing of water and air for pollution.
Though fish is an important part of our ecosystem, all other life forms need equal attention, and unless we take preventive measures, the situation will not improve. When an emergency situation arises, we go for quick fix solutions, but such short-term measures will not help in resolving environmental problems.
—Vandana Chavan, MP & founder, Alert and Smile

Civic body can replicate CME’s pattern to remove hyacinth
Water hyacinth prevents sunlight from reaching the water, thus, stopping generation of oxygen, which in turn kills all life forms underneath. This is not an indigenous plant, therefore, it is difficult to control its growth. The only option we have is to remove it regularly to control its growth.
A good example of this has been set by College of Military Engineering (CME) in Pune. They grow hyacinth in their lake, but remove it at regular intervals. This hyacinth breeds only in polluted water, thus, rooting out the pollution. At CME, they remove the hyacinth to prepare manure from it, thereby, making a good use of this otherwise harmful plant. The PMC can observe how the CME functions and try to replicate it in the city.
—Rajiv Pandit, founder, Jividha

Admin needs to start regular testing of water for pollution
Hyacinth has always been a problem for water bodies everywhere. Our rivers, Mula and Mutha too are infested with hyacinth. There should be an annual removal of hyacinth to maintain water bodies.
A few years ago, Bangalore-based Biological Control Research Institute had found an insect that fed only on hyacinth, thus, helping curb its growth. It was a successful experiment, but I am not sure why this research has not been used all over. We should check if it works in Pune as well.
Removal of hyacinth is a curative measure, but as preventive steps, the administration needs to start regular testing of water for pollution, growth of organisms, inflow of polluted water, etc. This is not rocket science, but I am surprised why no research has been done in this area.
—Ashish Kothari, founder, Kalpavriksh & chairperson, Greenpeace India board

Felling of trees have led to low oxygen levels in air, water bodies
The fish in Katraj Lake died due to lack of oxygen caused by water pollution. The first step to approach the problem is that we need to find out what is causing this pollution in order to root it out of the water. Another reason for low oxygen levels is felling of trees in that area.
About two years ago, the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) had created a Smruti Park where people could plant trees and name them after their parents. During that time, around 5,000 trees were planted in the park, 50% of which is missing now. This has led to low oxygen levels not only in the air, but also in water bodies. This is no way to function; the municipal corporation should take up projects that it can complete and maintain, and not leave them unattended.
—Vinod Jain, tree activist




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