In recent times, a lot of initiatives have come up to improve the condition of the environment of Kolkata and its surrounding areas. The huge and unique Prakriti Tirtha, or Eco Park, is one which immediately comes to mind. The eco-park has quickly become one of the favourite haunts of Kolkatans.
The vast water body of Nayanjuli Lake, located between Lake Town and Bangur Avenue on the northern outskirts of the city is in the midst of a major makeover. For the last quite a few years, encroachments had taken over a large part surrounding the water body. Then, lack of maintenance also ensured that invasive water hyacinth choked up many areas of the lake. Choking the water surface also makes it very hard for fishes to survive, fishes which are essential for maintaining the ecological balance of any water body. Garbage dumped on the banks and inside also added to the lake’s woes. The beautiful lake was gradually being lost.
South Dum Dum Municipality stepped in to urgently restore this lake and its surroundings and hand it over to citizens who crave for some soothing nature. The municipality has spent Rs 2.5 crore to gradually turn the 1300 ft by 130 ft lake from an eyesore to quite a sight. The restoration is on its last legs and the area would soon open to the public. According to locals, this beautification will turn the place into a visitor's paradise.
Water hyacinth choked the water body earlier
The water body has been completely cleaned up. All the garbage and water hyacinth have been removed. The encroachments which had taken place have also been taken care of. Fishes have been released into the water to improve the ecosystem of the lake.
Then, many trees and plants have been planted all around the lake to make it a nature paradise. In addition to about 300 palm trees that were already there, coconut trees and plants and herbs that control pollution are also being planted. Trees and lakes help in replenishing ground water and hence serve a very important purpose in keeping nature in its pristine state. In the growing urban jungle of Kolkata, there is a crying need for many more such places.
Dumped garbage was a common sight earlier
An ideal place for families
Since the place is being planned to be an ideal family spot, things have been put in place to ensure that kids have a good time too. Children will find a Chhota Bheem or a Mickey Mouse greeting them while strolling down the sidewalk or taking a bite from one of the food kiosks. Sculptures of popular cartoon characters and animals have been installed around the lake.
Two coffee shops on aesthetically finished wooden structures that looks like watch towers are receiving their final touches. One has been set up at the Lake Town end and the other at the Bangur Avenue end.
Then, boating facilities have been planned in the lake as well. Paddle boats as well as mechanised boats are being brought in and they would be available for pleasure rides at a price.
Another beautiful addition to the lake is a hanging bridge in the middle of the water body. It has been constructed at a cost of Rs 1 crore. A tender has been floated to select a firm for the upkeep of the bridge.
Replicas of cartoon characters on the sidewalk
A welcome addition
This restored lake would be a welcome addition to the city. Pollution is degrading the quality of the environment in a lot of places, and more such initiatives should come up, in Kolkata as well as in other cities and towns of the state. The South Dum Dum municipal authorities are planning to inaugurate the restored and beautified lake by the end of June.
According to residents we spoke to, this makeover was a much-needed one. They said the project will make the place attractive, one where locals as well as everyone else can have a good time in the lap of nature. Since the lake is now going to have proper maintenance through the setting up of security checkposts and regular cleaning, this restoration will also help keep encroachers at bay.
A watchtower-cum-cafe under construction