Ghata lake restoration in limbo, GMDA says responsibility lies with MCG
Almost nine months after the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) submitted a detailed report on the status of the Ghata lake bed as part of a 2015 petition in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) challenging environmental degradation in the area, no restoration work has been undertaken in compliance with the Tribunal’s directions yet. GMDA officials maintained that this responsibility rests with the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) as it owns the land in question.
The matter was also discussed at the recently held GMDA authority meeting on January 7. Confirming that restoration efforts are yet to begin, VS Kundu, CEO, GMDA, said, “The ownership of the land is with the MCG and therefore they are the custodians of the lake bed. The GMDA’s role was only to conduct a study and submit a report on the status of the water body, which has been done.” This view was echoed by MD Sinha, additional CEO (urban environment), GMDA, who said, “It is now the MCG’s responsibility to oversee the matter.”
However, the MCG has allegedly not yet moved to restore the lake bed as per the NGT’s instructions (which were to begin with demarcating the water body and fencing it off). It is also unclear whether any plans for the same have been discussed or drawn up. Vinay Pratap Singh, commissioner, MCG, and ND Vashist, chief engineer, MCG, did not respond to multiple calls and messages seeking comment for this story on Tuesday.
The GMDA’s May 9, 2019 report on the Ghata bundh and watershed states, “The submergence area upstream of the 1.2 km long Ghata bundh extending from Ghata to Behrampur villages has been observed as the largest and most important hydrological feature in Ghata village.’’ It also identifies rampant, large-scale construction work in the region as a possible reason for the disappearance of the water body, saying that, “The land use on the ground has substantially changed, resulting in modification of the hydrological parameters in various ways.”
“At present, there is no government/public owned waterbody upstream of the Ghata bundh which could be defined as ‘Ghata Jheel or Ghata Lake’. The Ghata bundh itself now survives as an 800m long structure. If the bundh submergence area or ‘lake’ is to be revived, there will be a need to restore the stream or creeks that brought water to the erstwhile ‘lake’ bed,” the GMDA report states.
The report also says, “The GMDA has limited itself to the study and analysis of the ‘Ghata Jheel’ area and not on the preservation aspects... which would fall squarely within the ambit of the land-owning public agencies.”
According to a senior GMDA official in the know of the matter, “There isn’t much that can be done to salvage the lake bed now, as multiple licenses for large-scale infrastructure projects have been given in the area and change-of-land-use permissions have also been granted for the same. A holistic restoration of the water body would mean rolling back these licenses.”
Vinay Pratap Singh, MCG commissioner, said, “The MCG is in the process of rejuvenating the Ghata pond, along with 12 other ponds in MCG areas under the Gurujal initiative”. He added that a topographic survey was underway, while a demarcation exercise had been completed.