Lake beautification is the new city fad. Recent developments like GHMC – Raheja Group partnership to beautify Durgam Cheruvu confirms investors inclination towards enhancing lakes. All well-intentioned moves of stakeholders like the government and the private parties. But the question is whether lake beautification alone contributes to the wellness of the people. Matters concerning wellness is essential for the present generation as well as the posterity and more importantly to the working-class people in the city.
When Sleep Becomes Premium!
In today’s time-constrained city life sleeping time is premium; after all who is not interested in a sweet sleep. Well, I meant to say, deep cushions are not a guarantee for proper rest, but a mosquito free sleep environment can help us come out of sleep deprivation. Swarms of mosquitos are invading our homes during nights. You shut all the doors to avoid mosquitos, and you resort to mosquito coils that kills mosquitos at the same time causing breathing ailments. Don’t you feel suffocated?
The threat of Ecological Imbalance
According to a research study in the BMC Publication dengue, malaria, chikungunya and other vector-borne diseases are continually rising. The State Health Department is on red alert to fight mosquito-borne viral diseases. The reason for this is the breeding of mosquitos in stagnant waters. Now the question is why mosquitos are breeding in stagnant pools? The answer lies in ecological imbalance.
a. The Disrupted Biological Food Chain
Fauna refers to living creatures in and around the lake. Fish and frogs help maintain environmental balance. Birds fed on fishes and snakes ate frogs. So are the frogs fed on mosquito larvae. We also had turtles also live in the lake. They feasted on proteins by eating small insects, snails, worms, and even dead marine animals and fish.
a. Diminishing fishes: Fish give life to lakes. Two kinds of fishes – white fish and blackfish are found in lakes. Earlier they were in abundance, now getting fewer due to the diminishing number of lakes or lakesides being converted for human habitation.
Fishes used to prey on mosquito larvae. When lakes become extinct, or fishes reduced mosquito larvae began to multiply in stagnant waters wherever possible causing havoc in the form of rising vector-borne diseases or mosquito-borne diseases. Compounding to the problem is rising immunity to antibiotics by the human immune system.
b. Vanishing Frogs: Frogs being vanished; hunted by gangs during the seventies and eighties who capture and export them. Frogs are an essential part of the food chain. Snake eat frog and frog eats a grasshopper, grasshoppers eat grass. This food chain is getting destroyed now. Although the government banned the export of frogs in 2014 by the time the damage has already been done. Secondly, frogs are used for physiology studies in thousands of schools and colleges across the country. As a result, frogs got depopulated increasing the agony of humans in the form of excessively populated mosquitos.
Years ago, people had less problem with mosquito bites as excess mosquito larvae being eaten by frogs and living creatures in the lakes. Now as we run short of fishes, turtles, and frogs on the lakeside our health problems increase in the form of swine flu, dengue and other mosquito-borne diseases.
c. Destruction of Aqua Life
The very purpose of water bodies is not providing drinking water alone but to maintain natural aquatic life and promote animals to live on them. Rapid urbanisation, upgrading living standards, make us forget our very base – preservation of aqua life that sustains our very existence.
d. Climate change: We all want water security to maintain the groundwater level. It is an accepted fact that lakes in Hyderabad reduce heat intensity and we feel the city is more refreshing compared to other regions of Telangana. This means we need ponds primarily. Secondly, we need the policy to promote an aquatic life that supports universal wellness in the city. For example, when fish is available migrating birds will come to feed on fish and fish, in turn, eat mosquito larvae restoring the fauna ecosystem.
Can we Evade this Social Responsibility?
Let me come to the fact. We are ignoring our water bodies. In the course of urbanisation, some lakes vanished, converted to parks, converted as residential colonies, slums, etc. Fifty years ago, you could find them in and around Hyderabad in the water bodies. During those days, Zoological Survey of India used to survey the quality of aquatic life in water bodies. Sadly today, no surveys are being conducted as the focus is shifted to marshy land. Let me tell marshy land is also important. But we should focus on primary sources such as lakes and tanks. Funds are allocated for fancy ideas like a study on marshy ground, eco projects, that contribute little to preserve the quality of aqua life.
Many foundations are involved in conservation efforts. But their emphasis is on wetlands. Wetland protection tops their agenda as its preservation is also necessary for water body preservation. Earlier there was little focus on wetlands. For example, the Tank Bund, the areas surrounding the lake is marshy and used for raising grass for cattle and other purposes. But what happened eventually these lands were occupied. The ordinary people-built houses on dried lakes, on the other hand, realtors-built flats there. The encroaching led to the protection of wetlands. But in the process the government, foundations turned a blind eye to pay attention to the destruction of aquatic space.
a. Yes, We Need to Balance Fauna Eco-System
Are lakes meant for showcase purpose? Today lakes are dressed up for entertainment purpose not to develop fauna or create wellness for the public. Take the example of Durgam Cheruvu a beautification move by GHMC in partnership with Raheja Group. Now the issue is we have a beautified lake replete with mosquitos posing more health risks to the public.
c. The stakeholders
There are ways to create a fauna ecosystem by networking various sectors like the government, businesses, education institutions, healthcare institutions, the general public and the like. Ideal to network the bodies:
1. The government
2. The corporates who involve in CSR activities
3. Fisheries department
4. Pollution control board
5. Zoological Survey of India
6. Metro Water-Sewerage Board
8. Education institutions
9. Healthcare organisations
13. The general public that aspires for wellness (control dengue fever, prevent mosquitos)
14. Our children who want to have a healthy environment at home
b. The bottom line: When public-private partnership doesn’t mind colossal investment on city beautification, there should also be a provision to create awareness on avoiding lake pollution and simultaneous steps to promote an ecosystem like fish breeding, frog breeding, fauna creation etc., which would have helped the society to achieve healthcare goals, freedom from dengue fever etc.
The Broadened Scope of Fauna Eco-System
Had there been an investment in lake fauna ecosystem there would have been opportunities for a career in the fields like ecological research, fish breeding, frog breeding, inviting state investments providing jobs for many. This includes researchers, ordinary people, in conjunction with Swachh Bharat under the State and centre. There is also scope for an internship for environmental visionaries, fauna lovers, or wellness seekers. Such activities can help in creating wealth creating engagements in the formal and informal sectors in projects worth of crores that require massive workforce.