Lakeside woes

Vadodara's lakes imperilled by reckless government decisions

Published: Saturday 15 September 2001

the lakes of Vadodara city face extinction due to the imprudent attitude of the city's municipal corporation. A good example in this regard is the permission granted to the Vadodara dairy for filling up lake Masiyu with waste. In order to save the lake and many others like it, the Baroda Beautiful Council (bbc), a non-governmental organisation, has filed a case against the municipal corporation. "The laws for protecting our lakes are already in place. But their implementation is missing," says R O Shah, president of bbc .

The lawsuit follows a landmark decision in April 2001 by the Ahmedabad high court in a case involving the pollution of Chandola lake of Ahmedabad. In this case, the court had ordered the state government to intervene and enforce municipal laws for saving the city's lakes from any kind of intrusion.

Ifbbc wins the lawsuit now filed, the implications would be far reaching. " vmc is also filling other lakes with garbage. If we win, the high court's order in the Ahmedabad case would be extended to include explicitly all the lakes in Vadodara," said Shah. Many of the country's lakes today face common management problems because modern administrative institutions do not plan scientifically, if they plan at all.

The problems being faced by the lakes in Vadodara are echoing examples of what happened in Udaipur and Bangalore. But in these two cities, strong conservation movements came to the aid of the lakes. In Udaipur, the Jheel Sanrakshan Samiti like bbc, filed a lawsuit against the city government after which things improved. "Now the National Lake Commission is involved in the conservation efforts and the Asian Development Bank is also helping us," said Tej Razdan, honourary secretary of the samiti. K V Narendra, director of the Urban Research Centre, Bangalore, has a similar story to narrate regarding the plight of the lakes in his city. "The problem in Bangalore, as elsewhere in India, was that there were 16 authorities managing the lakes. Moreover, elected officials had their own agenda," rues Narendra. According to him, the situation improved after 1985, when the Karnataka State Forest Department was solely made responsible for the management. Judging from these experiences, the lakes of Gujarat have still got a long struggle ahead but efforts of organisations like bbc would surely make a big difference.

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