Bikramgarh Jheel - Turning into a dumping ground

02/01/2010 20:12

Jheel or Steel

Chronicle of an encroachment........

Have you seen the latest map of Kolkata published by National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organisation, Govt. of India? One of the few blue patches in that map is our Bikramgarh Jheel, one of the large waterbodies in southern suburb. Golam Hossain Shah Road passes nearly parallel to its southern bank. Its approximate area is about 7 acres. It is a vested property under Government of West Bengal. Kolkata Improvement Trust (KIT) had some proposal to construct a road through this waterbody. Now the idea has been shelved because of the new laws on wetland and problems of road extension
In absence of any plan for conservation, this sprawling wetland of about 20 bighas has turned into a dirty polluted place. Wastes are being dumped indiscriminately on its banks. The waterbody is being encroached from different sides. A few automobile garages have already been built up on the western end. The drainage outlets are closed and therefore some localities get immersed during rainy season.

But this wetland still attracts a lot of different species. Different birds, small animals, varied insects - all enrich the biodiversity so near our homes. Its eastern end still has a lot of clear water and the other end has marshy bushes. This is a unique mix of wetland and waterbody. The waterbody can provide utility to various urban needs - from water for bathing to recreation, from income through pisciculture to a quiet cool bank for leisure and rest, while the wetland will bring back a green world full of birds, butterflies, even some snakes and frogs in this gray urban milieu.

On 5th June, the World Environment Day, an environmental group Vasundhara in association with local community organisations organised a visit by eminent environmental scientists to enquire about the recent status of Bikramgarh Jheel. A walk by local clubs was organised. The report has been sent to a number of government departments. After a long wait, we have been informed that Pollution control Board has planned to take some positive action.

But we have to hurry up. Otherwise this vast wetland will wither way in coming years. The remaining lung of this densely populated region of Jadavpur-Tollygunge will vanish. We shall loose a gift of nature for good.