Ever wondered despite being one of the largest and highly populated metro cities of country why cost of living in Kolkata is fairly less compared to other metros. Yes, there are many a reasons but one significant contributor is presence of East Kolkata Wetlands.
Kolkata is fortunate to have the world’s largest organic” sewage treatment plant” which acts as an oxidation pond to treat 750 million litres of city’s sewage daily and aptly called as the “kidney” of Kolkata. Had it been done through mechanized sewage treatment plants the annual cost could have easily gone up to few thousand crores. Unlocking of economic benefit continues in the form of production of vegetables, fish farming and livelihoods of almost a lakh people local to the area.
The rich biodiversity of the wetlands is the most obvious benefit and yet unfortunately unknown to most of the residents. Whatever little media attention it has received so far is solely due to relentless effort of NGOs and works of late Dr. Dhrubajyoti Ghosh, who paved the way for EKW being recognized as Ramsar Convention Site of International importance (2002).
The urban encroachment has threatened the existence of wetlands time and again since the development of Salt Lake City & Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. Hon’ble Calcutta High court, in response to the PIL filed in 1992, delivered verdict restricting any further construction without prior permission. But the fate of this ecological wonder has not changed in almost three decades as we see that judiciary had to interfere again in 2018 to stay construction of proposed flyover connecting Newtown. This is enough for concerned stakeholders to be apprehensive of deteriorating institutional, political & judicial support for protection of this wetland.
With fast approaching land cover and incremental growth of population, if due attention is not paid immediately to this natural gift city will lose its most distinct advantage and probably most precious organ “the kidney”. Let’s be a bit more responsible for the generations to come.
Picture Courtesy: Telegraph India, The Better India.