After a complaint lodged by an IIT researcher about the concerns hovering over the ongoing construction of a cycle track and its threat to Powai lake, the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC) has taken serious note of it. A report of it was published by Mid-day on 10th August.
The Ministry has asked the concerned authorities to submit their response on the issue. On Wednesday, Senior BMC officials visited the spot where the cycling track is being constructed, wrote Ranjit Jadhav, correspondent of Mid-day.
The MoEF&CC has asked the Principal Secretary (Forests) of the Maharashtra Forest Department to respond and take action upon the issue immediately; in a letter, the Ministry wrote, “Please find attached herewith a representation received from Omkar Mahadeo Supekar regarding the above cited subject matter, contents of which are self-explanatory. You are requested to submit your comments/action taken report on the said representation within 15 days.”
Omkar Mahadeo, a researcher at IIT-Bombay, has claimed that the construction work for the envisioned cycle track has destroyed the water body and even has led to the uprooting of trees.
A local resident also told Mid-day that the construction is being carried out in the lake’s drainage area. It will be hazardous for the biodiversity of the lake.
Moreover, the local people around the area are concerned that this project will harm the marsh crocodiles along with the other reptiles and aquatic species present in the lake.
Environmentalist Zoru Bhathena said, “Filling up the banks of a natural lake for building a cycling track is an unheard concept.
If a track is needed, they can simply build an elevated track on piers, which will serve the purpose with minimal damage to the lake. Filling up any natural water body is completely unacceptable.”
Aditya Uddhav Thackeray, Cabinet Minister of Tourism and Environment in Maharashtra, visited the site in June to inspect the progress of the Powai Cycle track, as reported by Mumbai Live at that time.
The report added that this project aimed to construct a 10km jogging/cycling track while preserving the area’s greenery.
Powai Lake is popular among the citizens for its natural beauty. However, many industries have made it a sewage dumping space in the past few years and have polluted the water.
Hence, the BMC was instructed to beautify the area and stop the pollution levels.
P Velrasu, Additional Municipal Commissioner (Projects), asserted that the work is being “done after consulting environmental engineers.
The BMC gives utmost importance to environmental aspects. We are using gabions that are breathing structures, and the continuity of water flow is maintained with an external catchment area.
Lots of thought and discussion went into it. It will be an eco-friendly structure and benefit the public.”
“The eastern suburb needs a community space, which is currently missing. So the BMC is creating an environmentally sensitive community space around the lake.
We have also planned a nature interpretation center on the circuit,” he added.