Green activists have welcomed the Centre's move to conserve urban lakes to meet the growing water needs of towns and cities. At the same time, they said such conservation is possible only if there is proactive community participation.
The Union ministry for urban development (MoUD) had convened a meeting with activists a few weeks ago for deliberating how to develop a strategy to protect urban lakes.
This development is important for Delhi, which has more than 600 water bodies. There were over 1,000 ponds, lakes and johads. Over the years, many were lost to urbanisation.
"With fresh water resources diminishing fast, there is an urgent need to devise ways and means to conserve, rehabilitate and nurture the urban water bodies," Sudhir Krishna, secretary, MoUD, told the meeting.
One of the recommendations is to designate lakes - not classified appropriately in the land use classification - as potential natural resources and give legal stature to save them from extinction.
Welcoming the move, Manoj Misra, an environmentalist, said: "Even Supreme Court has ordered it. In Delhi, a large number of water bodies have been lost and the water situation is precarious. There should be total freeze on land use change."
Another recommendation lauded by the activists is citizen-centric monitoring using modern tools. Diwan Singh of the Campaign for Commons, said community should have a need-based relation with the water body or the lake and all members of the community should feel the need for preserving/restoring it.
"The community should own the water body and there should be minimum regulatory intervention by the government," he said.