?Lake Princess? and the people | india | Hindustan Times
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?Lake Princess? and the people

?LAKE PRINCESS?, the floating restaurant, was launched the other day on Upper Lake with much fanfare. It was, however, a glaring instance of governmental and corporate insensitivity towards the townsfolk and the environment they live in. It kicks up at least two vital issues. The foremost of these is its impact on the lake water.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2006 13:54 IST

‘LAKE PRINCESS’, the floating restaurant, was launched the other day on Upper Lake with much fanfare. It was, however, a glaring instance of governmental and corporate insensitivity towards the townsfolk and the environment they live in. It kicks up at least two vital issues. The foremost of these is its impact on the lake water.

According to its protagonists, this and other motorised boats of the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (MPSTDC) plying on the lake have technologically advanced engines that are least polluting.

They also argue that if some sewer lines continue to empty into the lake and if heavy vehicular traffic around it with their emission of noxious gases and particulates keep polluting its waters then why should we cry foul when a cruise boat is introduced into it to promote tourism?

Clearly, these arguments are put across ignoring the interests of local people who have always been at the receiving end of various acts of omissions and commissions of the government and its agencies.

Whether it was the slip-shod implementation of the Bhoj Wetland Project (BWP) or the reluctance of the authorities concerned to clamp down on the excessive vehicular pollution in the town especially around the lake, both have adversely impinged on the health of local community.

Quite curiously, these failures are being used by the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation in defence of the motorised boats that it thoughtlessly put out on the lake.

Even earlier, the government and civic body had failed to shift ritualised immersions from its traditional site in the Upper Lake.

The facility at Prempura Ghat created by the BWP was not utilised for long, until peoples’ power (resolutely supported by this newspaper) forced the issue, shifting to its immersions of toxic effigies.

Then despite its claims of possession of the most sophisticated water-testing equipment, the Lake Conservation Authority has never publicised results of tests, if any, conducted by it. These, apparently, are ‘state secrets’. No one knows to what extent the lake is polluted. Worse, a recent report said that inefficient and/or defective filtration and treatment plants have ensured water supply from it that is far from potable.

In this dismal scenario, the promotion of tourism through a floating eatery with all its polluting potential has, seemingly, taken precedence over the health of local community.

All this apart, whether the “Princess” and other boats would really give local tourism a high is quite questionable. Promotion of tourism needs much more than floating restaurants, jal paries and motorboats.

Such mindless capital expenditure, without taking care of the nitty-gritty, is like throwing away public money. Many basic promotional efforts – well known to tourism officials – that could facilitate tourists to do the sites have remained unattended for want of resources.

And yet, disproportionately large sums of money have been invested on seemingly faulty prognostications and, that too, to the detriment of local people.

The Upper Lake is a wetland of international importance with a unique ecosystem and was along with the Lower Lake designated a Ramsar site.

All such sites are not only expected to be conserved but also put to ‘wise use’. An inter-governmental project, the BWP, was launched to do just that. That it largely failed in its objectives is another story but that does not mean that the lake should be degraded further. Since it already offers various non-polluting recreational facilities, there was no need to introduce several types of motorised boats here.

The currently crying-for-attention Lower Lake, developed and beautified, could well host them without harming the people in any way, offering another pleasant locale for recreation and diversion. Although, Rubicon would seem to have been crossed one still hopes that wiser counsels will prevail in the quarters concerned.