NEW DELHI: Taking note of the recent foaming of lake Varthur in Bengaluru, a green body today warned that such a phenomenon was a "serious" threat to the country's wetlands including those in Delhi-NCR, and called for increased community participation for its management.
Varthur lake, considered one of the biggest water bodies in the city, has been filled with a pile of froth after recent rains mixed with untreated sewage were let out into it.
In a statement here, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that the foam is the result of having high content of ammonia and phosphate and very low dissolved oxygen in the lake water, caused by untreated sewage flowing into it.
"The city's as well as urban India's wetlands were under serious threat," Sushmita Sengupta, deputy programme manager with CSE's water team, said.
"Delhi-NCR and many other cities across the country face similar foaming in their rivers and other wetlands on a regular basis," she added.
As per a CSE research, untreated sewage and industrial waste from much of Bengaluru city flows into Varthur lake, leaving it extremely polluted.
The green body said that even though the environment ministry has issued rules for conservation and management of wetlands under the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 and the Wetlands (Management and Conservation) Rules, 2010, the discharge is "not" being monitored across
water bodies throughout the country.
"There is a plethora of acts and policies which indirectly talk about the protection and conservation of wetlands. But these wetland protection rules do not have teeth. Moreover, the wetland which is protected is identified by the state government.
"If a wetland is overlooked by the state government, there is no mechanism except going to court," Sengupta said.
CSE said that it has prepared a model draft regulation for the protection of inland wetlands (excluding river channels except the cases where the channels feed the wetlands) of South Asia.
The draft defines wetlands, emphasises creation of data on wetlands and also stresses that existing customary rights and management practices in the wetlands will be recorded at the time of mapping these water bodies.
The document also stresses on empowering local communities to participate in management, conservation and restoration of wetlands.
"The draft calls for creation of a Central Wetland Management and Conservation Authority," CSE said.
Though Karnataka has a Lake Development Authority (LDA), CSE alleged that it has not been able to check the decline in the number of lakes or the deterioration in the quality of water saying it lacks legal power.
CSE claimed that the number of lakes in Greater Bengaluru has drastically reduced due to human factors.
"From 207 lakes in the 1970s, the number reportedly came down to 93 in 2010. Communities need to be involved in identifying wetlands which would be managed and protected while government bodies monitor and impose penalties on offenders including municipal bodies and industries," Sengupta said. PTI