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No concrete plan in place as water hyacinth engulfs Pune’s historic Katraj lake

Despite attempts to clean the lake, hyacinth is growing back and zoo authorities blame development

pune Updated: Jun 21, 2018 15:15 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Earthmoving equipment stationed near the Katraj lake at the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park and Research Centre.(Rahul Raut/HT PHOTO)

With monsoon clouds hovering around the city, the historic Katraj lake is still under a thick cover of water hyacinth. Despite repeated attempts at clearing the lake, the water hyacinth is growing back at double the speed. The zoo authorities blame it on the development around the lake.

Various earthmoving equipment are seen lying on the side of the lake but work has come to a standstill. According to one of the staff members at the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park and Research Centre, this was the fourth attempt to pull out the water hyacinth and yet they have not been able to clear even a small patch.

Dr Rajkumar Jadhav, director, Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park and Research centre said, “Every year we have to call the health department to remove the h.yacinth. It has become a routine now. This year, the water hyacinth has grown rapidly and seems denser than the past few years. If the officials are concerned, then they should remove the sewage lines that are draining into the Katraj Lake. With rapid development, many of the societies surrounding the zoo seem to have got their drainage lines linked to the lake.”

According to historians, the Katraj lake which is situated in the southern Pune, was constructed during the Peshwa Era. The Katraj lake covers close to 82 hectors. It is the combination of two lakes. The first lake acts like a sedimentation tank and water comes from the first lake into the Katraj Lake.

“Both the dams have gates at the bottom level, which can be used to release excess water into the Ambil odha(canal). In the period of Peshwas, the Katraj lake was used to supply water through an underground canal to the city of Pune,” informed Ashok Ghorpode, in charge of the PMC Garden department. “We are in the process of building a separate pipeline for Sewage. The earlier line was broken and most of the sewage water is going into the lake. Now, we are constructing a new pipeline in the odha (canal) to avoid contamination of the lake.”

Residents tackle hyacinth menace as PCMC caught napping

More than 10,000 volunteers participated in the cleaning drive launched by Rotary club of Walhekarwadi, clearing 1,455 tonnes of water hyacinth over 213 days ( HT Photo )

Pimpri Chinchwad municipal corporation (PCMC) has failed to curb the water hyacinth menace, however resident volunteers, along with the help of the Rotary club of Walhekarwadi, has cleared 1,455 tonnes of water hyacinth from the 24 kilometre stretch of the Pavana river in the past 213 days, all without the help of any civic body.

Pradeep Walhekar, president, Rotary club of Walhekarwadi, said that more than 10,000 volunteers participated in the cleaning drive to clear the stretch of the Pavana river from Jambe to Ahilyadevi ghat at old Sangvi.

“We have successfully conducted ‘jalaparni mukt Pavana abhiyan’ (hyacinth free Pavana campaign) for 213 days.The volunteers were central to the success of this campaign,” said Walhekar.

He added that citizens should not depend on the civic body to solve every issue and must take the matters into their own hands.

The Rotary club of Walhekarwadi has invested Rs 62 lakh on the campaign, which included Rs.7.5 lakh received as donations from various organisations for the project.

“On December 12, 2017, the civic body had assured us that they will bear the cost of the labourers working for the campaign, but so far, that has not happened. PCMC is investing lot of money on private contractors who have failed to control the growth and spread of water hyacinth,” said Walhekar.

The club will begin the next stage of the cleaning drive from October 7, 2018. It has also appealed to all the residents to come forward and contribute to keeping Pune rivers hyacinth free.

First Published: Jun 21, 2018 15:05 IST