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Reviving a dying lake

Neglected - Once covered by lotuses, Bandra Talao is now a stinking, polluted pond. With the BMC doing nothing about it, locals have decided to take the lead by beginning with a test of its water quality, report Afsha Khan & Raghav Rao.

mumbai Updated: Apr 13, 2010 01:07 IST
Afsha Khan & Raghav Rao

About 30 years ago, Bandra Talao was known as the ‘Lotus Tank’ as the pink and white petals of the flowers covered the entire surface of the lake near Bandra (West) station.

Today, the flowers have disappeared and people defecating around the lake, washing clothes on its steps, sewers belching out waste and locals dumping garbage are the most common sights.

“If an animal dies, people just throw the body into the lake,” said Vijay Nevse, a resident of Rationing Compound that lies opposite the talao. The decline of the lake, which is fed by a natural spring, echoes the sad story of the neglect of Mumbai’s natural resources.

Nestled in the heart of bustling Bandra, the lake situated along S.V. Road has the potential to become an oasis amidst the looming concrete structures and noisy traffic.

Several proposals to clean up and beautify it have been made, but none have borne fruit.

After a two-year wait, the plan to resurrect the talao inched forward last week when the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) allowed a committed group of citizens to invite experts to test the water quality.

“The fundamental purpose of this inspection is to find the sources of pollution,” said architect P.K. Das, who is part of the Mumbai Waterfronts Centre. Das, Darryl D’Monte, president of Bandra West Trust; Arup Sarvadhikari, president of Bandra Bandstand Residents’ Trust; and locals have been rallying to save the lake.

“Bandra Talao has been neglected for more than a decade,” said Shaina N.C., a trustee of I Love Mumbai. “We approached the BMC in 2004 and even brought in sponsors. In 2008, the BMC declared it wanted to do up the lake itself. Why waste public funds when there are so many parties who want to bear the cost?” she said.

“The BMC architect’s plan was comprehensive,” said Asif Zakaria, corporator of Bandra (West). “It had a world-class jogging track, fountains like the ones at Sentosa theme park in Singapore and other facilities for recreation.”

But it’s a distant dream. M.M. Kshirsagar, additional municipal commissioner of the H (West) ward, under whose jurisdiction the talao falls, said the BMC has received no complaints of pollution at the lake. “I have not seen the talao recently. We have not received any complaints and are working towards cleaning it up,” he said.