Choked by sewage, polythene bags and other pollutants of urban living, topped with effluent discharge, lakes in and around Indore have been left gasping for air. Now, an initiative is underway to provide just that.
Voluntary agency Taru has set afloat two man-made islands to revive the natural ecosystem at a lake at Lasudia Mori on the city outskirts through oxygenation and plantation. All at a rock-bottom price Rs 25,000.
The islands are made of PVC and bamboo frameworks and rest on used soft-drink bottles that aid buoyancy. They’re topped with a mixture of mud and coca pit, in which saplings of seven tree species have been planted.
“As the saplings grow, the roots will penetrate the water and draw nutrients from the polluted water helping to clean up the lake,” said hydrogeologist Dhiren Kumar Chawda, a consultant with Taru, the Indore Municipal Corporation’s climate change partner.
He said it would take around a month for the roots to penetrate the lake to a depth of one foot. "Once this happens, the submerged roots will help create a habitat for aquatic life, while the part above the ground will draw insects and, consequently, birds." claimed Chawda.
But why the islands? Why not plant saplings on the banks of the lake? "The lake is completely open and there is no bund or space to plant trees on the banks. Plus, if we have to clean it up properly the plants have to be in the middle of the lake," said the hydrogeologist.
Uninterrupted discharge of black (sewage) and grey (bathroom/kitchen) water into the lake adds to the problem, Chawda said.
The two floating islands are only the beginning. "We plan to set afloat six more islands shortly," he added.
Simultaneously, bio-remediation will be adopted to clean up the lake in the short term. "Microbes will be released into the water to remove pollutants," said the consultant.
In response to a question Chawda said the lake water contained high levels of phosphate and nitrate and “very little dissolved oxygen (DO).” Healthy DO levels help promote growth of aquatic life and also dispel the rancid smell that emanates from polluted water bodies.
Mindful of the importance to involve stakeholders for the successful implementation of such initiatives, Taru has formed a Lake Conservation Samiti comprising local residents. And response is encouraging. "They’re doing good work. If we implement the ideas with Taru’s assistance the lake will become beautiful and clean," said farmer and committee member Kailash Tiwari.
Taru has identified lakes at Sirpur, Tigaria Badshah and Talawali Chanda, where the floating islands could be used next.
"We’re coordinating with environmentalists and nature lovers," said Megha Burvey of Taru.