Giving strength to residents’ and activists’ protest against the Powai lake cycling track, BJP MP Manoj Kotak has opposed the ongoing construction work. He has shot off a letter to BMC chief Iqbal Singh Chahal and urged him to suspend the work.
The lake falls under Kotak’s constituency in Mumbai North-East. He alleged that the BMC did not consult him before giving the project a green light. “I am the MP of this area so I should be aware of the project,” Kotak told FPJ on Thursday.
He claimed that sewage from surrounding properties and hotels is being discharged in the lake. This is affecting the marine life here. Kotak further urged the BMC to focus on directing sewage discharge away from the lake water.
“The BMC was to implement a micro-tunnelling technique to prevent sewage disposal into the lake. When I raised this issue, the BMC said that it will take another six months to resolve the issue,” Kotak said.
Kotak also pointed out that owing to the financial crisis faced by the BMC, it is not reasonable to take up construction works of the cycling track. In his letter, Kotak stated that for constructing the track, the BMC is filling the catchment area of the lake which needs to be stopped. He also added that all the trees that have been felled should be replanted at the earliest.
"We have only three demands, first is to stop sewage disposal and clean the lake, secondly to replant the fallen trees and thirdly to conserve the lake as its the natural habitat of crocodiles and rare aqua species," Kotak said.
Ever since construction works for this project had started local residents, students from IIT, and environmentalists had opposed it. The 10.2 km cycle track is constructed to open up natural urban space for Mumbaikars and this project is backed by state minister of environment Aaditya Thackeray.
Demonstrations are being carried out regularly at the construction sites by students and activists. Earlier this week, local residents had written to CM - Uddhav Thackeray seeking his immediate intervention in this issue. Stalin D, environmentalist and director of NGO Vanashakti had also written to various state and central agencies seeking a stay on this project.
Stalin stated that this lake is the natural habitat of Indian Marsh Crocodiles which is a protected species under the Indian Wildlife Act which is why this lake needs to be conserved.
A senior official from the BMC however maintained that this agency has received all the necessary environmental clearances and has all the permission to go ahead with the project.