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Declare Dhamapur Lake as Wetland & Ramsar Site

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400 years old ancient Dhamapur Lake (Geo location: 16.034926 , 73.594277) constructed in the year 1530 is the biggest lake in Sindhudurg and perhaps next only to Tadoba Lake. The Dhamapur Lake finds mention in Gazetteer of Bombay Presidency Vol-X year 1880. As per the latest report of Irrigation Department the area of Dhamapur Lake covers area of about 43.80 hectares and as per the Ratnagiri District Gazette 1962 it measured 50.58 hectares. These details shows the shrinking of lake area is pertinent issue related to environmental degradation around the lake. While huge amount of money is spent on the name of beautification of Dhamapur Lake and on the name of tourism from public exchequer. Due to this there is threat to potential of this ancient traditional water harvesting system.

1) The first issue causing destruction of ecology and water pollution is huge sky walk construction on the Dhamapur Lake. Former district Collector Mr. E. Ravindran violated all the environmental norms and passed a order that Irrigation Department to give N.O.C for construction of a mammoth 2.5 kilometer sky walk in the said lake under the name of beautification of Dhamapur lake. It is worth noting that an over-design construction of 372 sq.m having 35 concrete columns is already completed. There was a time when Deccan odyssey International tourist use to visit Dhamapur Lake to appreciate the natural and raw beauty of the Lake. They could view the skyline and the water view, adjoining reserved forest and around 500 years old ancient temple of Bhagwati. One the background the present construction of skywalk, apart from harm to the ecology, is also a visual pollution.

A details report is made on impact assessment of the skywalk made by specialist Botanist, taxonomic Dr. Balkrishna G Gavade and wild life expert Mr.Malhar Indulkar. It clearly states that 372 sq.m concrete skywalk at Dhamapur Lake has already disturbed lower group of plant like Algae and higher group of plants like aquatic , semiaquatic and terrestrial plant species which grows on the banks of the lake directly adjacent to the skywalk. The construction process for the Skywalk has involved concrete pillars set in the lakebed. The digging and excavation process have led to fissures in the laterite bedrocks, which may lead to percolate the stored water and decrease the carrying capacity of Dhamapur lake.

Other points to consider are that the concrete pillar will retain the sun’s heat, which will influence the temperature of the surrounding water accordingly. In addition to this, the concrete columns will reduce the carrying capacity of the lake and will increase the turbidity of the water leading to the contamination of drinking water for the population of Malwan city. The present 35 concrete columns will be host for dumping garbage in water course because of coverage area by these columns in the water body.The present 35 concrete columns and approx. pending 1700 more concrete columns are better described in architectural language as over design and not a economical design.

A total report of 134 plants , contain 34 herbs , 33 shrubs , 14 climbers , 42 trees , 3 orchid , 23 plants are reported as rare and 3 plants are reported as rare endangered species as per the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). In the images attached in the report clearly shows the absence of vegetation on the bank directly by the Skywalk, as opposed to the abundance of vegetation on the bank directly after the structure. A clear boundary is evident; where the skywalk terminates the start of the vegetation can be seen. The present 372 sq.m of the skywalk runs parallel to the canopy of the reserved forest. This, and any further construction, is likely to have a serious impact on the Riparian forest, which is the prime habitat for avifauna. Endemic species of birds, viz Malabar grey hornbill, Malabar whistling thrush, Malabar pied hornbill etc inhabit the reserve forest adjacent to Dhamapur Lake. Winter visitors and migratory birds viz bronze winged jacana, lesser whistling ducks, darters and painted storks have been sighted on the lake. Apart from this, the smooth-coated otter, leopard, wild boar,barking deer, hare, palm civet, small Indian Civet and giant squirrel have also been known to inhabit Dhamapur Lake. The small population of Otters inhabiting Dhamapur lake are of critical importance since they are considered to be the indicator of a healthy wetland ecosystem.

2) The Second Issue is that there is a petrol boat which is being run in Dhamapur Lake without permission from the Water irrigation department, Environment department and Maharashtra fisheries department. An illegal contract without the permission of the above mentioned department is signed by the Dhamapur Grampanchayat with one contractor from Malvan to run a petrol boat in the said lake at a contract of Rs. 2,000 per month for the period of 5 years. The water from Dhamapur lake is being used by human being for drinking purpose and which is adding serious threat to health right. The Irrigation Department has issued a letter dated 03/03/2017 to the Sarpanch, Grampanchayat Dhamapur for banning the boats running on diesel/petrol. The Water Irrigation department who is the sole custodian of this water body is shading away from their responsibly and just issuing notices to the Grampanchayat to remove the petrol boat from Dhamapur Lake. While responding to an environment petition in NGT The water irrigation department is submitting a false statement stating that are no boats running on diseal/petrol in Dhamapur Lake for the tourist. I wish to mention very clearly that there is a petrol boat which is being run in Dhamapur lake at present also. A study on physico-chemical parameters of Dhamapur lake conducted in the year 2010 & 2012 mentions that Quality of water was found to be clean and was not polluted. While it is pertinent to note that due to contamination of Dhamapur lake water, various health hazards cropped up in the year 2013-2014. People have suffered from epidemic diseases like jaundice, typhoid fever e.t.c and use of this lake water was banned for one month.The water from Dhamapur Lake is being used for drinking purpose by various villagers since long.Hence unused pedal boats should be used instead of petrol boat. If the activities in Dhamapur lake are limited to rowing, pedal boating then it would not be harmful for the ecology.

3) The Third Issue is pertaining to one instrument of water fountain which was installed within Dhamapur Lake water from budget of beautification of the lake It is not working since the time of installation and that has been covered by algae on and around it which is adding the waste pollution.

4) The Fourth issue about immersion of Ganesh Idols in Dhamapur Lake. There is no one to monitor the people who immerse the Ganpati idols and ‘Nirmalya” consisted of various plastic materials in Dhamapur lake. In the year 2008-09 during Ganesh festival immersion a survey was conducted at Dhamapur Lake by the Intern students of Syamantak, a voluntary organization inDhamapur. There were 164 Ganesh idols and out of 169 kg of Nirmalya there was 60 kg plastic. (Annex photos). In one important Judgment the Hon’ble High Court has specifically directed that there shall be no Ganapati idol immersion in water bodies. It is an absurd thing on the part of the officials instead of spending enormous funds on mindless idea of skywalk, fountain etc on the name of beautification they could have utilized the funds to construct artificial tanks on the bank of the lake so that Ganapati Immersion can be done in such artificial water tanks keeping intact the purity of the Dhamapur lake water. It seems that in the eyes of the former District Collector Mr. E. Ravindran Dhamapur lake was not important as a wetland. As inspite of our repeated follow ups with your office no action is taken to notify Dhamapur lake as wetland on record. This is to bring to your kind attention that total 373 wetlands are mapped in Sindhudurg District with the total wetland area of 13979 ha. On all these above grounds, when we are trying to emphasis on ecological damage and permanent environmental destruction,

I wish to underline that the aqua culture inside the lake water and various other species in and around the water body is at threat. It is also important to understand that various species, frogs, birds lay their eggs with the periphery of Dhamapur lake and their interrelationship with the environment is getting disturbed because of construction of whimsical idea like skywalk construction in the lake periphery. Changes in abiotic and biotic factors, as per the opinion of experts in environment, can invite pollution to the Dhamapur lake water causing decline in aquatic flora and fauna.

1)  The construction of the skywalk is within the water level and flood plain. Basically no construction inside the water body or on the wetland is permissible but ignoring various aspects of environment the Irrigation department has issued NOC to the skywalk construction and hence it is required that present skywalk construction of 373 sq.m having 35 concrete columns carried out needs to be removed immediately. No construction near any such water body or wetland is allowed as per the law.This aspect is clearly violated by the skywalk construction and hence it needs to be demolished.

2) Dhamapur lake is a man-made dam which provides drinking water to citizens of Malvan city and nearby villages. Petrol / Diesel boat should be ban and immediately removed from the Dhamapur Lake. District Collector should lodge a FIR on the Executive Engineer, Water Irrigation department and Grampanchayat Dhamapur if they fail to take prompt action. Existing pedal boats which are lying idle should be used for tourism. Moreover, there are solar panels installed at Dhamapur Lake from funds of beautification of the said lake. These solar panels are lying idle and so it can be used to run a solar powered boat.

3) Remove the unused water fountain from Dhamapur Lake.

4) Construct artificial tanks on the bank of the water bodies before this monsoon so that Ganapati Immersion can be done on such artificial water tanks.

5) An employee of Water irrigation department who is presently posted in Dhamapur village should be deputed to monitor Ganesh Visarjan during Ganesh Festival at the said lake.

6) Dhamapur Lake museum and resource center for village shg’s and farmers for processing of bi-products from Jack-fruit, Cashew-Apple, Jambhool, Mangoes, Kokum etc should be started at the defunct rooms constructed near the Dhamapur lake.

7) A detail inquiry should be done by DCP, Anti-Corruption Dept, State of Maharashtra on misuse of administrative powers, abuse of entrusted power for private gains by former District Collector Mr. E. Ravindran on violation of High court and Supreme court order and money spent on beautification of Dhamapur lake from public exchequer.

8) Declare Dhamapur Lake as Wetland and nominate for proposed Ramsar Site


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