For Ankur Goyal, pursuing Ph.D. at the School of Environmental Science, nightouts at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) campus in south Delhi is a routine.
However, for the past week, Goyal and his friends have been preparing for a special campaign … to save a dying lake in their neighbourhood.
The students put up posters across the campus to raise awareness for a campaign to save Neela Hauz, a small yet significant lake at the southern ridge, damaged because of a bridge built right across it.
These activities were being held ahead of a meeting at the JNU campus on Tuesday, which revealed the fact that the campaign to save Neela Hauz lake has gained huge momentum.
A large number of students have made common cause with residents of Vasant Kunj and nearby areas, who have already been protesting for more than two years now. The meeting had components like music and art to raise awareness.
“The purpose of the meeting on June 1 was to involve youngsters through music and art for Neela Hauz,” said Surabhi Nagpal, a class IX student of Mother’s International and a resident of Vasant Kunj.
Nagpal and her friends and classmates from the area have been holding protest drives against the lake’s deteriorating status. The Public Works Department (PWD) has built the bridge across the nearly 800-year-old lake causing damage to the fragile eco-system.
The construction of pillars of the bridge has meant dumping of debris in the lake’s bed, which has caused a large portion of the lake to dry. A small portion of the lake, which still has some water, is covered with water hyacinth and other weeds.
The PWD is supposed to remove the debris and hand the lake over to DDA by July 31, its spokesperson Neemo Dhar said and added, “The area around the lake would be developed as a Biodiversity Park as per the Lt Governor’s guidelines. The concept plan is prepared and approved by the Biodiversity Executive Committee.”
But the residents and the students are skeptical.
“Now that they have completed the bridge, we want to keep up the pressure and ensure that the authorities restore the lake. We want the lake back,” asserted Nagpal.