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G E M. Water is a scarce and precious natural resource to be planned, developed, conserved and managed as such, and on an integrated and environmentally sound basis, keeping in mind the socio-economic aspects of a country. The limited water

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  1. G E M
  2. Water is a scarce and precious natural resource to be planned, developed, conserved and managed as such, and on an integrated and environmentally sound basis, keeping in mind the socio-economic aspects of a country. The limited water availability and increasing demand has prompted the need for water conservation and in particular ponds and lakes as – ‘any resource saved is resource created’.
  3. Several technical definitions of ‘Pond’ and ‘Lakes’ have met with resistance or disapproval, as the defining characteristics are each difficult to measure or verify. However for simplicity sake we can define ponds and lakes as follows: Pond - a small, quiet body of standing water, usually shallow. Lake - larger bodies of standing water occupying distinct Basins.
  4. Lakes and ponds are important part of ecosystem. Though relatively small in size, ponds and lakes perform significant environmental, social and economic functions, ranging from being a source of drinking water, recharging ground water, control flooding, supporting biodiversity and providing livelihoods.
  5. Water in lakes and ponds is an easily available source of water for the needs of many sectors of economy such as agriculture, domestic and industrial. These water bodies, whether man-made or natural, fresh water or brackish play a very vital role in maintaining environmental sustainability especially in today’s context when the cities are facing the challenges of unplanned rapid urbanization.
  6. In brief
  7. Although, there is a Plethora of policies and acts for the protection and restoration of lakes and wetlands, urban water bodies are in extremely poor condition. Their numbers are declining rapidly. For example at the beginning of 1960s Bangalore had 262 lakes, now only 10 hold water. Similarly, in 2001, 137 lakes were listed in Ahmadabad city, and over 65 were reported being already built over (Excreta Matters, 2012).
  8. In Delhi in 2010-11 to check the changes in   3 waterbodies in last 10 years the status of 44 lakes was ascertained and it was found that 21 out 44 Lakes were gone dry due to rapid urbanization and falling water tables (Singh & Bhatnagar, 2012). Another example exhibiting this increasing loss of urban water bodies is Hyderabad, within last 12 years, Hyderabad has lost 3245 ha. area of its water in the form of lakes and ponds (Times of India, 2012). There are endless examples in India that shows such devastating state of urban water bodies.
  9. Threats to Urban Water Bodies For the last two decades, urban water bodies have been a victim to unplanned urbanization in India, because of which they face several threats. These are pollution, encroachment, eutrophication, illegal mining activities, ungoverned tourist activities and cultural misuse.
  10. 1] Pollution: For the last two decades, there has been an explosive increase in the urban population without corresponding expansion of civic facilities such as adequate infrastructure for the disposal of waste. Hence, as more and more people are migrating to cities the urban civic services are becoming less adequate. As a result, almost all urban water bodies in India are suffering because of pollution and are used for disposing untreated local sewage and solid waste, and in many cases the water bodies have been ultimately turned into landfills.
  11. 2] Encroachment: Encroachment is another major threat to water bodies particularly in urban areas. As more people are migrating to cities the availability of land is getting scarce. Today, even a small piece of land in urban areas has a high economic value. Hence, these urban water bodies are no more acknowledged for their ecosystem services but as real estate. Both for the government and the private builders these lakes are extremely valuable opportunities.
  12. There are interesting example of encroachment and pollution, not by some private builder but the government like Pallikaranai marshland in Bangalore which has become a dumping ground or Sola Beel in Guwahati where the state revenue department allotted lake-bed for construction in spite of Guwahati High Courts order to protect all wetlands in the state.
  13. 3] Eutrofication: Primarily being lentic water systems, lakes are almost closed ecosystems. Hence, a large part of the substances that enter in the lakes become a permanent part of the system as only a part of that can be removed depending on the water exchange system. As a result, the entry of nutrients through raw sewage become the part of lake system and cause various destructive changes in the water body such as prolific growth of aquatic weeds in lakes and ponds that ultimately disturb and kill the ecology of the waterbody. Bheels of Assam is a well known example of high growth of hyacinth due to pollution.
  14. 4] Illegal Mining Activities: Illegal mining for building material such as sand and stones both on the catchment and on the bed of the lake also have extremely damaging impact on the water body and one of the reasons behind the destruction of many water bodies in India. For example, the Basamand lake in Jodhpur, once the only source of drinking water for the city of Jodhpur, has been suffering from illegal mining for the last 20 years despite the court’s order to stop mining in 1999. Surajkund lake in Haryana is another example of illegal mining activities that have destroyed the lake.
  15. 5] Unplanned Tourism Activities: Unplanned tourism activities without systematic planning and regulation proved to be another major threat to urban water bodies. Disturbance of wildlife, pollution, changes in local lifestyles and loss of cultural heritage are some of the impacts of tourism on the local environment. In the absence of garbage disposal facilities, the practice of dumping garbage into nearby water bodies has become quite common in recent years and has contributed to the degradation of many water bodies especially at the high altitude lakes, for examples, Dal Lake in Srinagar, TsoMorari and Pongsho Lakes in Ladakh where the unplanned and unregulated tourism has posed long-term negative impacts both on biodiversity of the area and as well as on the local environment
  16. 6] Cultural Misuse: Adding to the sorry state of urban water bodies is also the misuse of these water bodies by local communities for their cultural or religious festivals such the immersion of idols . These activities are particularly a source of serious pollution in lakes.
  17. Protection of Ponds - How can you help?We can all help ponds and their wildlife in some way. Here are a few practical ideas: Have a look around your neighbourhood and see if you can find any ‘wild’ ponds. If you think a pond needs improvement e.g. rubbish or plants removing, perhaps you and some friends or family could try to renovate it. It is best to ask for advice and help on Pond management from professional organisations. Your local environmental NGOs  may be able to help you too.
  18. If you see a neglected pond or lake, you may take up the issue with the local Panchayat or city corporation with the help of NGOs like (ALMs in Mumbai). Citizens’ pressure on local government authorities may lead to the clean up operation and the maintenance of your neighbourhood pond or lake.
  19. Local government authorities may allot the maintenance and upkeep of water bodies like ponds and lakes to NGOs, corporate Houses, Trusts, Citizens’ groups or other voluntary groups on mutually agreed terms and conditions.
  20. THE STAND OF COURTS ON PROTECTION OF LAKES AND PONDS “We would like to make it clear that no one should be allowed to fill up or destroy natural lakes or ponds, as it will have serious negative environmental impact,” said Majmudar. He added, “Natural lakes and ponds should not be made a casualty or it will lead to larger environmental hazards in future.” The judges asked Mhada to consider restoring a natural lake at Borivli (West), which was to be developed as a garden.
  21. The Supreme Court of India has said that protection of natural lakes and ponds honours the most basic fundamental right -- the right to life that is guaranteed to all Indian citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution. As such, the government is duty-bound to preserve these natural water bodies, to ensure its citizens the right to water and to a decent standard of living.
  22. This educational PowerPoint Presentation (editable) is prepared by GEM Team (courtesy: internet). For other similar GEM PowerPoint Presentations on various environmental issues see next slide. These PPTs may be downloaded from our website www.stfrancisxavierpanvel.in Or visit GEM FACEBOOK http://www.facebook.com/gemenewsletter
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