New Delhi: Once known for its clean and clear water, the Bhalswa Lake of Delhi is narrating its own story of how modernisation and urbanisation is taking a toll on such water bodies.
Known as 'Horseshoe Lake' because of its original shape, the water body situated in Northwest Delhi was earlier spread over 58 hectares but now has been reduced to 34 hectares.
The lake, once upon a time, used to be surrounded by a forest and fields but now has been encroached upon and squeezed by residential colonies, thus slowly killing its identity.
People of the nearby Bhalswa village say that the water of the lake used to be so clear that one could see the fish swimming.
"The Bhalswa Lake originally was spread across 58 hectares but now only 34 hectares is left," environmentalist Ranvir Tanwar, who is known for reviving several water bodies, told IANS.
"The lake which gives a picturesque view from a distance in now filled with waste coming from a nearby dairy," said Ashok, who used to visit the lake regularly when a kid.
N.L. Meena, who is in charge of Bhalswa Boat Club, said: "The waste from the nearby dairy is completely drained into the lake. The residential areas and the factories also add up to the problem. The water is without any oxygen and it is so polluted that the colour of the water keeps changing."
"Even we find it difficult to sit here in office," he added.
The lake was developed in 1991-92 for the purpose of boating and water sports. But due to pollution, boating was suspended from June 2015 to December 2016, Meena said.
Asked how many people come to the lake, he said the pollution and the stench has restricted people from coming near the lake.
People say that the lake was neglected due to the apathy of both the Central and state governments. With every department passing the buck, addressing the pollution problem is a distant dream.
Notably, the landfill of Bhalswa is also situated near the lake.
"This lake is under the Tourism Department of the Delhi government while the land is owned by the DDA. The local MP too did not make any effort to clean this lake," said a local resident.
During festivals, the lake has to face the brunt of devotees who dump all the puja material into the lake.
Meena said around one tonne of waste from the dairy and nearby areas drain into the lake everyday. It is difficult to stop the drainage as mostly all drains empties into the lake.
He said that PWD is working to stop the waste entering into the lake.
The official also said that a few months back, a private company had collected water samples from the lake and the test report would be submitted to the DDA for further action.
Every year college students, as a part of some programme, come to the lake and do surface cleaning, said a worker of the Boat Club.
Asked whether sports activity still on at the lake , Meena said around 20 youth come in the evening and take classes in water sports, he said.
The people who visit the lake wish to see the lake in its earlier condition and hoped the government would look up into the issue urgently.