60% Navi Mumbai lakes polluted; used to bathe, wash clothes: Study

Two of every three lakes in Navi Mumbai are polluted, says a survey of 30 lakes in the satellite city conducted from December 2018 to April 2019. According to the five-month-long study by environmental group Greenline and SIES College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Nerul, which surveyed freshwater lakes from Digha to Belapur, only six lakes were relatively clean while the remaining 24 had water unfit for human consumption.

The study was conducted to prepare baseline data of Navi Mumbai’s lakes for future policy decisions. The report, of which HT has a copy, was submitted to the civic chief, Navi Mumbai and the city engineer on Tuesday.

Of the 30 lakes which were identified using Google Maps and field surveys, the study found 60% were polluted, 13% had a foul stench and only 20% were clean.

While water from 36% of the lakes was being used to wash clothes, vehicles were washed across 19%, and another 19% were used for bathing. However, no industrial effluents were being discharged into any lake.

“All lakes are used for idol immersions, dumping of solid waste like food packets, wrappers, and nirmalaya [flower waste]. At certain lakes, the water appeared black with an oily film on the surface. Majority of lakes appeared polluted and [the water] unfit for drinking,” the study concluded.

“Debris and construction material was found dumped at the edges of a few lakes, indicating illegal reclamation,” said Swanand Gawde, programme officer at Greenline, who led the study. If properly maintained, these lakes can serve numerous purposes, the study suggested. “They help increase groundwater levels and act as a reservoir or sponge during heavy rains and floods,” said Gawde.

According to the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC), there are 22 lakes and two holding ponds in the city. “All lakes in Navi Mumbai are cleaned every two to three years,” said Surendra Patil, chief engineer, NMMC. “We divide the lakes into two parts using a gabion wall [a structure filled with rocks or concrete]. While one end of the lake can have immersion, flower waste dumping or minimal domestic waste, the other side of the lake remains clean.”

“The problem we face is that all lakes and ponds in Navi Mumbai have stagnant water and there is no runoff. Thus, the pollutant load increases due to less dilution,” said Ravindra Patil, additional municipal commissioner, NMMC. “We will study the report, and the recommendations made will be considered.”

First Published:
May 23, 2019 00:54 IST

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