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Plans afoot to revive dying Bhalswa lake

By Abhishek Dey, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JUL 26, 2019 11:57 PM IST

The Delhi government has initiated an assessment of the Bhalswa lake to revive an old proposal to develop it into an ecotourism spot. According to the proposal, the ecotourism spot would include facilities for boating, angling along with picnic spots and a fountain, senior government officials said.

While the government is gearing up for the planned facilities, three major hurdles stare at it in the face —the pollution in the lake, the severe stench a gigantic landfill right next to the lake emanates and waste from the dairy farms in the area that is dumped directly into the lake, a senior official said.

“We have asked the tourism department to make an assessment. The idea is to develop the lake into an ecotourism spot by reviving boating activities, enable recreational angling( a type of fishing),creating picnic spots and installing a fountain for a laser light and musical show,” said a senior official in Delhi government’s urban development department.

The oxbow lake which is currently spread over an area of over 34 hectares comes under the jurisdiction of the Delhi Development Authority (DDA). “We will cooperate with all agencies to ensure that the Bhalswa lake back comes back to life once again,” Tarun Kapoor, vice-chairman of DDA, said.

In 1992, boating activities started in Bhalswa lake but had to be stopped because of high pollution levels. In 2015, the government officially issued an order suspending such recreational activities, government officials said.

Currently, a landfill that releases toxic gases and produces stench stands right next to the lake. Also, hundreds of dairy farms are located in the area and all the cow dung generated from them and other waste ends up in the lake, senior officials said.

The size and shape of the lake, senior officials said, have witnessed massive change over the years as large parts of the lake were consumed by the growing landfill next to it and other parts of the lake witnessed rampant encroachment as slums and colonies surfaced in its vicinity.

In 2017, the Delhi government had drafted a proposal to revive boating, angling and other recreational activities in the lake but the plan could not take off because of the pollution.

However, the government seems to be more hopeful this time.“We are trying to revive the plan because a lot of things have changed in the last two years,” an official said.

Under directions of the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Delhi Jal Board in 2018 identified Bhalswa lake as one of the water bodies tobe rejuvenated under its revival project. The agency is now trying to reduce the pollution level in the lake, a DJB official said.

Between November 2018 and March 2019, the north Delhi municipal corporation initiated various efforts to contain toxicity of the landfill. The civic body had also approved setting up of a bio-methanation plant that would generate energy from the cow dung and waste generated from the dairy farms, government officials said.

But then these things will take time, said a senior official at the civic body adding, “While the bio-methanation plant will take at least two years to kick-off , the containment technique aimed to contain the toxicity of the landfill was caught up in a legal hassle over the methodology for a long time.”

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