Bhopal's Upper Lake threatened by tourism

By Nanditta chibber
Published: Saturday 30 June 2007

Motor boats: For recreation or (Credit: Nanditta Chibber)bhopal's Upper Lake is in danger. Bhopal Municipal Corporation (bmc) has accused the Madhya Pradesh State Tourism Development Corporation (mpstdc) of polluting the lake, a protected site under the Ramsar treaty on wetlands. bmc says over 10 motorboats owned by mpstdc and another 100 paddleboats at the Bhopal boat club are affecting the lake, which supplies 40 per cent of the drinking water to the city.

"mpstdc is violating provisions of the Madhya Pradesh Municipal Corporation Act, 1956 which prohibits any activity causing pollution to a drinking water supply source," says Manish Singh, bmc commissioner. mpstdc plans to continue developing the boat club, adding more infrastructure--the cruise vessel being the latest addition in 2006. "Emissions from the engines of our vessels are well within the prescribed international limits. We regularly check it and ensure there is no dripping or leakage," says Dhruv Narain Singh, mpstdc chairperson.

bmc says it scrapped fishing contracts in the lake and has also taken a Rs 20-crore loan from the Asian Develop-ment Bank to manage sewage lines outside the lake and to create a new 76-km sewage line. "But the crowd visiting the boat club makes it difficult to manage the solid waste in the lake," says Singh.

The Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board (mppcb) is, however, non-committal. "The current emissions are, according to statutory and technical provisions, well within permissible limits. But an increase could lead to worse results," says P S Gautam, mppcb chairperson. The pollution control board refused to confirm if potable water quality has been affected beyond desirable levels. It says the upper lake's water 'confirms the norm of being within iso 10500-1983', the standard measurement for a potable water source. The oil and grease spillage is also within permissible limits of 0.01 mg per litre.

But many feel a coordinated approach is needed. "Recreational activities are restricted to just 15-20 per cent of the periphery of the lake. So this does not disturb aquatic and migratory birds substantially. Non-motor boating activities help increase the oxygen level in the water," says Sanjeev Sachdev, project coordinator, lake conservation authority of Madhya Pradesh.

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