SUBJECT :Wetlands 
The city has lost over five lakh square meter of wetland area in the last decade, a recent study indicates. Moreover, the wetlands in the city are fast losing their ability to serve their main purpose — to provide drinking water.

According to data collected by Gujarat Ecological Society (GES) between 2005 and 2014 shows that all the 49 ponds in the city shrunk by a total area of 32.95 per cent. The loss in the area resulted to an approximate loss of 521.2 million liter of water.

"Wetlands are being treated as dumping grounds for a variety of solid wastes. Many of these lands have been reclaimed for construction purposes. Such severe encroachment of the wetlands is reducing their area drastically," said GES acting director Dr Deepa Gavali.

Gavali added that the time might not be far away when Barodians would have no natural source of potable water. According to her, the damage can be controlled if the administration mends its ways immediately.

"Wetlands are very poorly maintained by the administration. Discharge of sewage and encroachment in the urban wetlands is a major concern. Blockages of inlets and outlets of the ponds obstruct the natural flow of water leading to the degraded state of these wetlands," she added.

Dr Jayendra Lakhmapurkar, GES deputy director, said that because the waterbodies are not rejuvenated naturally they are now acting as open breeding grounds for vector-borne diseases.

"A socio-economic survey revealed that majority over 60% of the population residing near these wetlands is prone to diseases like malaria, chikunguniya, cholera and diarrhoea. The deteriorated unhygienic conditions of wetlands in the urban areas are the major areas for breeding of houseflies and mosquitoes," Lakhmapurkar added.

"Our study reflects that inefficient planning of development in the city and lack of control over urbanization are the main reasons for wetland degradation in the city. These conditions in turn are causing secondary problems in Vadodara including flooding, water logging, disease outbreaks and major aesthetic degradation," Gavali said.

Harni pond:

Harni pond was a well-maintained serene pond till recently. But its condition deteriorated very quickly over the past few years and is now characterized by high levels of organic contamination. Algae indicated the highly deteriorated state of the pond's water. The population of migratory birds that was common near the lake has also reduced significantly.

Area (in hectare) (2005) - 15

Area (in hectare) (2014) - 11.1

Sama pond:

Solid waste in the water was found to be above the permissible limits causing a loss in the pond's depth. It is moderately affected and can be revived while there is still time. The deteriorated water quality in the Sama pond is characterized by high levels of phosphates and nitrogen.

Area (in hectare) (2005) - 5

Area (in hectare) (2014) - 4

Gotri pond:

Gotri pond is one of the largest ponds on the western side of the city. Slum dwellers have encroached into the pond, but the pond lost a major portion after the Gotri road was broadened. The pond has become a prominent spot of dumping solid waste leading to aggravated pollution levels and is now considered an aesthetic irritant.

Area (in hectare) (2005) - 5

Area (in hectare) (2014) - 4.7

Sarasiya pond:

One among the bigger ponds existing in the city, Sarasiya pond, is among the ponds that are moderately affected. While the pond does not face much problem of encroachment, solid waste deposition in the pond is a major concern. The feeder channels of the pond are also blocked and might dry up the waterbody due to lack of maintenance.

Area (in hectare) (2005) - 4

Area (in hectare) (2014) - 3.3

Gorwa pond:

The Gorwa pond is well linked with through under-ground channels which are still open. There is an abandoned well near the pond which indicates a good recharge capacity of the pond. It is one of the well-maintained ponds. However, solid waste and pollution remains a concern for the pond albeit less than other major ponds.

Area (in hectare) (2005) - 3

Area (in hectare) (2014) - 3


Source: 3 July, 2015, The Economics Times