Mission Paani: At least 300 lakes in and around Delhi have dried up due to rapid, unchecked urbanisation

For Delhi lad Jagdish, 13, and his friends, there is nothing better in life than a cricket ground. The teenagers seldom think of the fact that they are standing at the bottom of what was once 700-year-old Satpula lake. In the medieval era, the water body was situated in the middle of a forest, but is now located amid the bustling Saket, a south Delhi neighbourhood. All signs of the lake have vanished in the past three decades.

Jagdish is oblivious of the existence of any lake. “No, we don’t know of any Satpula lake. We just come here to play cricket. If they make the lake again, we will come here for sightseeing,” he says nonchalantly.

Ram Sewak, 55, however, has age on his side to “distinctly remember the lake”. He blames rapid and rampant urbanisation in the area for the drying up of the lake.

“In my formative years, I used to spend a lot of time at the lake along with my friends. Children used to take bath here as well,” Ram Sewak reminisces.

 Mission Paani: At least 300 lakes in and around Delhi have dried up due to rapid, unchecked urbanisation

Satpula lake’s extinction is not unique. At least 300 lakes in and around Delhi have dried up as the city has expanded exponentially amid a construction boom. Experts blame construction for blocking the flow of rainwater to these lakes.

Dr Fayaz Khudsar, in-charge scientist at Yamuna Biodiversity Park, says: “Drainage of rainwater into lakes is a key for their survival. Unfortunately, all natural drainage is being blocked because of wanton construction.”

Around 30 years ago, tourists would come to Satpula lake for an exquisite view of its glistening green water. Now, the “view point” is the only remnant of what was once a beautiful lake. Though the Delhi government plans to revive the national capital’s lakes, it appears to be a tall order.

However, all hope is not lost. The Yamuna Biodiversity Park stands on what was barren land in 2002. Dr Khudsar and his team of experts have brought the wetlands back to life, and created lakes out of nothing.

Dr Khudsar, too, holds out hope. “It is possible to revive lakes, if we can take a step in the right direction. Resident birds are breeding here again, it has helped humans as well,” he says.

Updated Date: Jul 11, 2019 17:28:16 IST