BMC clean-up work destroying crocodile habitat in Powai lake, say NGOs

  • Badri Chatterjee, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Jul 06, 2016 23:20 IST

Two days after a crocodile was spotted outside Powai Lake, city-based non-profit organisations alleged that crocodile habitats are being destroyed by the BMC’s clean-up of the lake.

Members of Maharashtra State Angling Association (MSAA) said crocodiles did not have a way to come out of the lake until the civic body started removing water hyacinths and vegetation from it.

“There is a difference between desiltation and dredging. However, the civic body is carrying out the latter and deepening the basin of the lake instead of removing the impurities,” said Gordon Rodricks, vice president, MSAA. “This has disturbed the natural habitat of the crocodiles and forced them to move out.”

Rodricks said a makeshift road made for carrying BMC equipment for the work has made it easy for the reptiles to leave the lake.

On Monday evening, a six-foot-long female crocodile was spotted near the entry gate of Panchkutir Chota Ganpati Visarjan Ghat at Powai lake, close to the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

The number of crocodiles in the 6.61-sq-km artificial lake is not known because there has never been an official census. However, according to the MSAA, there are 40 crocodiles currently in the lake.

Sunish Subramanian Kunju, member of NGO Plant & Animals Welfare Society (PAWS), said, “Visitors need to be alert, especially at night. “If anyone spots a crocodile outside the lake, they need to alert the local police or forest department immediately.”

Officials from the civic body’s hydraulics department denied the crocodiles were moving out of the lake owing to their clean-up work. “No habitats have been destroyed. Due to heavy rain over the past two weeks, there has been an increase in water level of the lake,” said a senior engineer from the department. “The lake has been further beautified owing to our efforts.”

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