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This village in Goa is conserving a century-old lake, sets example for others


Bengaluru, July 02: You probably might have heard people telling you things like 'turn off the faucet when you're not using the water to brush your teeth,' and not to 'leave the shower water running for minutes before getting in.' The logic behind is simple, save water to save money on the utility bill. But saving water is important for other reasons too.

At present, about half of India is facing drinking water crisis with Chennai and Bengaluru bearing the brunt as monsoon got delayed and arrived without a brimming bucket. Its simple as that everything on Earth requires water to sustain itself. We can begin by just saving our lakes. It must be noted that Lakes are ecologically precious water bodies. Conservation and development of these invaluable, traditional water bodies are of paramount importance.

Photo courtesy: Save Bondvol Lake/Facebook

A Niti Aayog report released last year predicts Day Zero for 21 Indian cities by next year. Day Zero refers to the day when a place is likely to have no drinking water of its own.

And India is the biggest biggest user of groundwater. It extracts more groundwater than China and the US. Almost every single city and village in the country has lost its wetlands, water bodies and even rivers to encroachment to meet the needs of rising population.

Recently there was a report which shows a Satellite images of a lake in Chennai that has indicated an alarming level of loss of water extent in lakes. Instead of ad hoc measures such as ferrying water from distant watersheds to the city, what is needed are sustainable solutions to make it water secure. But we've been careless with this vital resource.

Contrary to this, a village in Goa is setting up an example for others on ways how to save a lake. Yes you read right!

The people of Santa Cruz, a suburban area adjoining Goa's capital Panjim, are trying every avenue to save their villages' crowning glory which is an age old century lake, Bondvol Lake. This Lake, a 110-year-old natural reservoir collects rain and spring water over a 9.365-hectare submergence basin. The lake has a catchment area that is 12.14m-high and 180m-long.

According to locals, Bondvol lake was built during the Portuguese era in Goa and over 500 locals from St Cruz and the surrounding areas depended on the waters of this lake for agricultural purposes.

However, according to an old Herald article, since 1968, Bondvol Lake was at stake. There has been a conflict of interest over the land.

According to the report, one of the tenants illegally, grabbed the property under the tenancy right. The tenant had only one years' lease documents but he succeeded in acquiring it legally after officials didn't turn up for the hearing at the deputy collector's office.

Last year, property developers have also encroached on the land and begun cutting into the surrounding hill, illegally.

Villagers held many bike rallies, public meetings, mobilised special gram sabhas, taken awareness and dug into historical archive material to back their court petitions.

In 2016, they also launched 'Save Bondvol Lake' movement that got traction in the 6,100-household village.

It has been learnt that as of April this year, thanks to a Gram Sabha meeting, it was concluded that no building licenses would be issued to real estate developers looking to build in the vicinity of the lake.

Water conservation requires forethought and effort, but every little bit helps. Don't think that what you do does not matter. We can all make changes in our lifestyles to reduce our water usage. The trick is making water conservation a way of life-not just something we think about once in a while and also ask yourself why it's still so hard to protect the environment? Educate yourself and others about wetlands and why they should be protected.

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