Bhopal: Please and appeals by environmentalists, social activists, historians and scientists to save waterbodies in city in the wake of imminent water crisis seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. The city which had as many as 18 lakes is now left with just one, the Upper Lake, which supplies 40 per cent water to the city. The rest are either dried up or in very bad shape, they rued.

If we remove encroachments from near catchment areas, deepen water bodies, plant saplings and create awareness among people about the importance of conserving water resources, we can tackle the looming water crisis, they said.   The concerned citizens claimed that “Lack of winter and autumn rainfall last year and release of sewage into various waterbodies have caused the crisis. Besides, the government as well as the citizens have miserably failed to preserve the waterbodies.”

Environmentalist Subhash Pandey said “If the Upper Lake and Kaliyasot Dam are deepened properly, we will not have any water issue in the city and can easily do away with fetching water from Narmada. After deepening, the lake can generate 60 per cent of water demand alone.”

He argued that “The main problem here is that people are not aware of importance of waterbodies, and the ones who are aware, are encroachers including politicians, builders and industrialists. When our custodians themselves are encroaching at will, how can somebody else save the waterbodies. BMC (Bhopal Municipal Corporation) is making Amphitheatre on lake which is illegal and certainly, violation of Water Act 1974. I filed a petition in court in the incident but to no avail. ”

He said that there was five categories– A, B, C, D and E– to measure the quality of drinking water and ‘A’ is attributed to the best. “You will surprise to know that our Upper Lake doesn’t come under ‘A’ category and rest of lakes are even miles away from the ‘E’ category. Just imagine the gravity.  The Upper Lake is world heritage and it comes under Ramsar sites (wetlands). If the waterbodies are not taken care of, the city will be in for severe water crisis,” warned Pandey.

Historian Narayan Vyas said “Rising population and encroachment of water bodies are the main reasons of water crisis. Such kind of problems can be solved by joint efforts of government and public. After all, waterbodies including lakes, rivers, wells and Baolis (step-wells) are our heritage. First of all we should do a detail survey under experts guidance including archaeologist and remove the stop dam which restricts rain water from reaching the lakes. Also, afforestation and deepening of water bodies are essential.”

“Afforestation and roof water harvesting system can help check water scarcity. Water harvesting system helps increase the level of ground water. Besides, we should organise lecture, essay and painting competitions on how to save water in school and colleges to aware youth. We can save water by avoiding shower and bath tub,” said Sunil Dubey, a social activist.

“Shortage of rainfall and soil erosion in ponds and lakes are two main reasons of drying water bodies,” said scientist in charge at Regional Museum of Natural History, Bhopal, Dr Manoj Sharma.

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