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In east Delhi’s Shahdara, a sewage-filled dying lake is all set for a grand makeover

The Delhi civic body received the confirmation on the allocation from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in June.

delhi Updated: Jul 14, 2019 03:21 IST
Baishali Adak
Baishali Adak
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
east Delhi,Shahdara,sewage
The dried-up Shahdara Lake in east Delhi.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

The revival of Shahdara Lake in east Delhi, a project conceived in 2008-09 before the trifurcation of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), may finally get to see light of the day.

The cash-strapped East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC), which is executing the project, has been granted Rs 15 crore by the central government under its AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) scheme to complete the long-pending plan.

The civic body received the confirmation on the allocation from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) in June. EDMC has already finalised a contractor for works — including excavating the lake bed, removing garbage, creating parks, walking areas and plazas —and would award the tender soon.

The civic body officials said July 2020 is the tentative deadline for the project.

“This is a big 30.74 acres green space, of which, the lake occupies 14 acres only. Even 15-20 years ago, it used to be filled with pristine rainwater when the catchment area of Welcome and Naveen Shahdara was not so congested by buildings. It was fairly popular among the local residents as a recreational area and young boys used to swim here,” an EDMC official, requesting anonymity, said.

“Later, the lake became a collection point for sewage water that came from all around, resulting in rampant mosquito breeding and even accidental drowning. We diverted the dirty water to the GT Road Drain in 2009 but since then, the lake has been completely dry,” he said.

When Hindustan Times visited the spot on Thursday, local boys were playing cricket on the largely dry lake bed which hosted a small patch filled with hyacinths.

In 2012, EDMC had engaged the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and prepared a plan for the lake’s revival in two phases. Under Phase I of the project, a ‘phytorid technology sewage treatment’ system was to be set up. The civic body obtained Rs 4 crore from the Trans-Yamuna Area Development Board (TYADB) for the job and got a Pune-based company to do it.

A full-fledged sewage treatment system — that included tanks for sedimentation of the sewage water and its purification through screens, gravels and boulders, and an ultra-violet (UV) filter — was installed in 2017. The system’s highlight was beds of plants —canna variegated, umbrella palm, pampas grass and water lily —which absorb sewage as nutrients to clean the dirty water.

“The system has treated 30 lakh litres of wastewater coming from about 5,000 to 6,000 households in Naveen Shahdara since then and the water is drained into the dry lake bed for revival,” said Ajay Ojha of the Technogreen Environmental Solutions (TES), Pune, which had set up the ‘natural STP.’

Funds for the second phase of the project —which included mandatory excavation of the lake bed without which, it is unable to hold any water, and landscaping— could not be initiated as the Trans-Yamuna Area Development Board became defunct and the civic body had no funds.

“When we learnt that the central government is giving priority to water conservation projects while awarding funds under AMRUT, we decided to apply in 2018. A high-level committee under the Delhi Chief Secretary appraised it and MoHUA approved it,” said Dilraj Kaur, commissioner, EDMC.

“We will soon look at reviving other lakes in our area, such as in Ghazipur and Mandawli, utilising the opportunities under the central government’s Jal Shakti Abhiyan,” she added.

Dwarka-based activist and convener of Natural Heritage First, Diwan Singh, said while he appreciates the use of the natural phytorid technology by EDMC, the corporation must ensure industrial chemicals in the sewage water are treated. “Shahdara has small industries in every household and chemicals go into common drains. Samples must be taken from the filtered water routinely to check if its satisfactory quality and fit enough to be recharged the lake with,” he said

First Published: Jul 14, 2019 03:21 IST