A campaign that spanned years and was helmed by residents of the Lokhandwala Complex has kept hope alive for the survival for the Lokhandwala Lake. The desilting of the lake started on Saturday morning, with residents cheering in celebration.
The BMC has allotted Rs 2.4 crore for the de-silting of the water body, which has been dying a slow death because of garbage and debris dumped into it. The water body was created in the 1990s, when a concrete wall blocked a creek from the sea, creating a fresh water pond. It attracted migratory birds and became a popular bird-watching spot in the city.
“It was a marshland surrounded by mangroves before it became a lake,” said Anil Mistry, a resident of Lokhandwala Complex, who works as an assistant engineer with the BMC.
N Vasudevan, chief conservator of forests (mangrove cell) and Sanjay Deshmukh, assistant commissioner of K-West ward, were present at the site. Municipal officials said it would be dredged to a depth of four feet. The work is expected to be completed in a few weeks.
Sumesh Lekhi, a resident of the area who worked on the project, said, “We have all been fighting for this lake for the past three years. There are wildlife species in this lake. We realised the biodiversity was getting destroyed. One of the reasons is the washing of clothes on the side of the lake. The chemicals from the soap released into the water have caused widespread harm to the species.”
Some residents blamed the BMC for adding to the pollution problem. “The BMC used to release its effluent from mobile toilets into this lake,” said Rakesh Coelho, another resident of the area. Residents of the Lokhandwala Complex say the immersion of idols during festivals has also polluted the water.
Ashoke Pandit, chairman of the Oshiwara Lokhandwala Citizens Association (OLCA), which has been supporting the project, said, “OLCA has tried its best to push this de-silting work for the past three years.”
The BMC has also constructed an artificial pond for idol immersion in the area, and this is expected to reduce pollution in the lake.