Perspective of pollution and use of mass media in environmental awareness for The Upper Lake: A case study
South Asia, home to over one-fifth of the world’s population, is facing a growing water crisis. This region is in the grip of continuing flood and drought cycles, dictating the need for a long-term strategy for management of its water resources. Big and small water bodies, in the form of lakes and reservoirs, dot the landscape of South Asia. These ecosystems impound precious freshwater, and are the most easily-accessible source for human use. Historically, major cities in this region flourished in geographical regions with assured water supplies that sustained civilization for centuries (Kodarkar & Mukerjee, 2006).
Unfortunately, the last half of the 20th century has witnessed large-scale degradation of the environment in general, and water resources in particular, due to multiple anthropogenic factors such as unprecedented population growth, and consequent urbanization, industrialization and chemical intensive agriculture. Among the first victims of this degradation process were the lakes and reservoirs in the vicinity of urban areas that underwent large-scale pollution due to sewage and industrial effluents and toxic chemicals. In most cases, nutrient enrichment led to eutrophication of water bodies (Edmondson 1991), and exhibiting negative manifestations such as:
- Loss of water-spread area because of siltation and construction activities;
- Continuous algal blooms;
- Excessive growth of macrophytes (e.g, water hyacinth) and loss of biodiversity; and,
- Water quality degradation
There also are drastic alterations in the morphometry (the process of measuring the external shape and dimensions of landforms, living organisms, or other objects) and water-holding capacity of lakes and reservoirs, due to inflow of silt, dumping of garbage and reclamation activities. The process has been further aggravated by encroachments and unauthorized construction activities in the catchment and on the lakebed. Compared to rural areas, the impact of this degradation is more severe in urban areas due to their high population densities. Because of the ecological, economical and recreational potential of lakes, there is an urgent need to protect, rehabilitate and conserve them as precious natural resources.
This case briefly examines how these issues have been addressed for the Upper Lake of Bhopal, a part of the Bhoj Wetland, and the use of various media tool in environmental awareness for The Upper Lake, the Bhojtaal.
Case study method is an approach that emphasizes detailed contextual analysis of a limited number of events or conditions and their relationships. Various researchers have used the case study research method for many years across a variety of disciplines. Journalists and media persons, in particular, have made wide use of this qualitative research method to examine contemporary real-life situations and provide the basis for the application of ideas and extension of methods. Researcher Robert K. Yin defines the case study research method as an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context; when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident; and in which multiple sources of evidence are used (Yin, 1984, p. 23).
The present study, in this regard, used case study approach to the problem identified as above. For addressing the problem, secondary database from multiple sources have been used. The sources for the data collection were libraries, internet blogs, journals and books.
Results and Discussion
Available literature indicates that, in India, construction of storage reservoirs is an age-old practice. Former rulers contributed significantly by constructing large numbers of impoundments for providing drinking water to the people in their cities. This was particularly necessary in arid, semi-arid and other regions with highly erratic rainfall. The Upper Lake of Bhopal, arguably the oldest among the large man-made lakes in the central part of India, falls in this category. This lake was created in the early-11th century by King Bhoj by theParmaraRaja Bhojduring his tenure as a king of Malwa(1005–1055), by construction of an earthen dam across the Kolans River, a rain-fed tributary of the Betwa River. He is also said to have established the city of Bhopal (also named after him, then as Bhojpal) to secure the eastern frontier of his kingdom. There is a legend why the built the lake.
The story behind creation of Bhojtaal
According to an old story, once king Bhoj suffered from skin disease and allVaidyas(Doctor in English) failed to cure him. Then, one day asainttold the king to build a tank to combine 365 tributaries and then have a bath in it to wipe out the skin disease. Bhoj called upon his engineers to build up a huge tank. They spotted a place near riverBetwa, which was 32km away from Bhopal. It was found that it has only 359 tributaries. AGondCommander Kalia fulfilled this shortage. He then gave the address of an invisible river. After merging the tributaries of this river the number 365 was completed.
The lake was created by constructing an earthen dam across the Kolans River. An eleven gate dam called the Bhadbhada damwas constructed at Bhadbhada in 1965 at the southeast corner of the Lake, and now controls the outflow to the river Kaliasote.
The Upper & Lower Bhopal lakes, collectively known as Bhoj Wetlands, are urban water bodies. The upper lake is a major source of potable water for the people of the city of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. The lower lake was constructed much later on the downstream of the dam of Upper lake. The eastern catchment of Upper Lake is urban whereas the western catchment is rural in nature. The Lower Lake is surrounded from all sides by human settlements.
The Upper Lake is a source of potable water and meets 40% of the demand i.e. 29 MGD of drinking water for the city’s growing population. Its fishing rights have been given on long lease by the BMC to a fisherman co-operative consisting of some 500 fishermen families. The Lower Lake is mainly a recreational site. The livelihood of 250 washer-men families belonging to socio-economically weaker sections of the society is dependent on the Lower Lake.
Table 1: Details of the Bhojtal (Upper Lake) and Lower lake
Environmental issues surrounding Bhojtaal
According to various sources referred, the major issues concerning the environment of the lakes are as described below (table 2):
Table 2: The Problems and causes surrounding pollutions in Bhojtaal.
• Dissolving of paints in water during immersion of idols.
• Run off of chemical fertilizers from the catchment.
• Activity of washing of cloths by people resulting in release of detergents.
• Leakage of oil during motor boating and cruise movement
• High Nutrient load of lakes due to inflow of sewage and agricultural wastes.
• Encroachment on the lake fringe area which gets exposed when water level falls after rains.
Media tools used for awareness generation
Media tools and materials developed and used for public awareness programme towards creating awareness of environmental pollution and its impact on
- Hoardings at Strategic locations
- Publications of special bulletin (Tal Sandesh to create awareness regarding diversion of Idol immersion activities).
- Advertisement in news papers regarding project actions.
- Communication through TV/Radio.
- T-Shirts/Caps showing massage of “Save Bhopal Lakes” used by the students/volunteers involved in awareness campaign.
- Stickers having various slogans for lake conservation were used sparingly to communicate the massage.
The analysis of various literature reveals that several Public awareness programme and educational materials developed were developed like use of street theatres, Rallies, open forum discussions, workshops, seminars, Lectures and Audio-Visual shows, organizing various fairs, Mera Taal Mera Bhopal on World Environment Day, Jheel Mahotsav (in 2014), etc.
Apart from all the above, big media houses participated in awareness generation activities to save the upper lake. Dainik Bhaskar’s Jalsatyagrah campaign was a big event in this regard. This Jalsatyagrah campaign is carried out by Dainik Bhaskar Group in many cities on regular intervals. The campaign includes activities like road shows, public meetings, awareness & educational programes in schools and residential areas. Mobile exhibition demonstrating a working model of roof water harvesting is also organized in various cities.
Dainik Bhaskar and other media groups like Dainik Jagran, Ptrika, etc. carries out special stories & columns in its group newspaper on water conservation. Advertisements are also released on regular basis to create awareness about water conservation. In addition, Bhaskar Foundation has restored many village ponds in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Di-silting has been carried out with the help of public participation
In the developing countries, where financial resources are limited for infrastructural development, implementation of conservation plan for the conservation of a wetland system like Bhoj wetland is unique. It has tried various innovations both in case of application of technology and for taking help of public by the use of various IEC (Information, Education, and Communication) tools. Involvement of the public with the project, in part to solve the religious and social issues, is worth emulating in these parts of the world. Further, the use of various mass media tools have come out as innovations that has turned out as a positive change for the people of Bhopal and the lake itself.
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Indu B. K. Upadhyay1
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