The jannat, deep in the heart of Mumbai
Powai Lake, one of nature’s beautiful creations still retains some of its beauty midst the hustle and bustle of traffic and man made concrete jungle. Unperturbed by urban invasions that is increasingly tarnishing her beauty, the lake welcome every passer by with the hope that someone might help restoring her old charm and beauty.
Outcome of one of the rivulets that sloped down the western ghats, Powai lake was created by the Britishers. And then in 1956 the Angling Association came into existence, presently known as the Maharashtra State Angling Association. The Lake which was once home to world-famous game fish, the great Indian Mahaseer, today breeds just eight to ten variety of pond fishes, like Rohu, Mirgal, Silver carp etc, weighing around 20 kgs each. ” The Association has its own nursery to nurture variety of finger lings which are released into the lake when the water level comes down, so that the tiny fishes get time to acclamatise to the surroundings. Every year almost two lakhs fishes, purchased from the local market, are introduced to lake water after the monsoon,” revealed, Parvez Chaudhuri, Field Secretary, Maharashtra State Angling Association.
The lake and the club is maintained with the fees that is collected from all the members. The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation handed over the lake to the committee on lease, for which the association pays yearly rent to the government. The money paid by the members for buying machaans (small floating houses) and small boats, which they use during fishing adds to the funds maintained by the association. “Most of the machaans are owned by the members, which can be purchased by paying a lakh. The club also has provision for people who don’t own one. We also charge some extra amount from our members, each time they bring in guests, as we don’t allow outsiders, unless accompanied by our own association members,” revealed Ashok Ghose, Treasurer, MCAA.
Over the year almost half of the fishes are consumed by illegal poachers,breaking all security measures that are introduced by theAssociation. The matter which is of concern to all the members is the urbane development that is defacing the lake which was once aptly called the Angler’s Paradise. The Angler’s Club today stands like an amputated part of the city body, uncared and unnurtured.
Increasing water pollution is another matter of concern. The spread of this water body has reduced to 5 ft from 8 ft and over the years around 4000 cubic meters of silt has deposited decreasing the depth of water level to just 10 ft; off periphery. The lake water which was once used for human consumption in the nearby areas, is today used for animal consumption at Arey Colony. The residue from labs of the adjacent Indian Institute of Technology, act as the major pollutant, followed by the chemicals and burnishes which gets accumulated during Ganapati bisarjan. Every year almost 8000 idols are immersed in this water body.
” On one hand the government talks about conserving forests and nature, and on the other hand it leaves no stone untouched , inorder to convert this natural habitat into another concrete jungle. Ignorance towards environment is so deep rooted that, we provide a deaf ear to such causes. Ignorance is not always bliss, atleast not when the question of your next generation arises. We are least bothered about the world we will be presenting our loved ones.” This is a common view among all the 250 anglers, made vocal by Almeida, one of the oldest members of the club.
A lake once the habitat of dozens of crocodiles, today can boast of only 5-6 . These crocodiles generally survive by consuming big fishes from the lake and at times pounce on the small animals roaming around the lake area. Today the same electrifying ambiance may not prevail at the lake, but the lake has to some extent adhered to its charm. Amid increasing stretch of skycrapping construction in its periphery and the fusion of its water with harmful chemicals, the lake stands quietly witnessing the destructive changes.
“We are trying our best to restore the area, but that can only be done with the help of Government and residents of the area. We are actively fighting against the causes that are destroying this habitat. We have abundant of natural beauty, the only thing required is general awareness. Believe it or not, when you come here, you would realize, jannat yehin hai. All we needis the eye to view it,” averted Ghose
For people, who still have the inclination towards nature, and want to relax in the fresh and peaceful surroundings listening to the chirping of birds, move around leisurely in a small boat should make a venture out to this world of greenery. One can feel the magnetic effect that prevails in the lake area, which compel people to visit the place often. Today we still hold a chance to witness this natural beauty, but the next generation may not be fortunate enough, as we will be leaving behind a concrete jungle for them. Possibly the lake, which has one of the world’s most famous angling club would be visible only in pages of history books.