MODEL COLONY LAKE (LAKAKI), PUNE
Site Development and Landscaping of Model Colone Lake (Lakaki), Pune
Model Colony Lake in Pune also known as Lakaki lake is a six acre abandoned quarry site nearly a century old. Besides accumulation of annual rain water the depression has natural fresh water springs. Residential recall that the stones from this quarry were used to build the Fergusson College situated in the same area.
The lake derives its name from the residence of famous industrialist Kirloskars in the vicinity named “Lakaki”.
For years the lake has been a tranquil retreat of migratory birds, buffalos, fishermen and nature lovers.
In 1985 Pune Municipal Committee proposed to convert the lake into an education complex after filling the area. This enraged the local residents that the lake should not be altered in any manner.
Dr.Mrs.Meera Bondre of Botany Department of Poona University under the guidance of Prof.S.B. David had undertaken detailed study of the lake ecosystem. Based on the scientific observations and field tests they had come to the conclusion that the lake supports a very well balanced eco-system and abounds in diverse life forms which co-exist here and make life support systems of this lake sustainable. The lake supports the fish (Garubusia Affinis) which is known as mosquito larvae eaters. Therefore, the lake area is free of mosquitoes and the water does not smell. It has withstood the pollution so far and has helped to keep the atmosphere clean.
Based on the scientific observations they came to conclusion that the lake has immense potential of being converted into a Natural Science Garden for the future and should be left undisturbed.
World renowned Ornithologist Late Dr.Salim Ali visited this lake and was most impressed to see a great numbers of birds frequenting this lake which is in the midst of a residential colony.
The residents under the dynamic leadership of Dr.Zainah Poonawala of (MCPSS) Model Colony Parisar Sudhair Samiti and many like mind individuals and various organizations including WWF(World Wildlife Fund) and Prof.Narendra Dengle of (INTACH), Indian National Institute for Arts and Cultural Heritage, Local newspapers and magazines put up a fierce battle to save this important and unique lake from extinction.
Pleading the cause of ecological balance and right to live in a healthy environment the Parisar Sudhir Samiti filed a suite in the court against the Pune Municipal Committee.
The long drawn legal battle took years to settle. Although the development work on the lake got started in the year 1993 but was later stalled due to legal reasons for number of years and then finally the project work was completed in the year 2001.
Minimum development strategy was the essence of the project which was totally based on ecological considerations. There was already enough data available to plan the various development interventions without altering the very complex and highly sustainable eco-system which nature had developed over a long period of time.
Help from local bird watchers Parkash Gole and Ramesh Badwe and others helped a lot in finalizing the appropriate list of plant species for the project.
It was observed that about fifty two bird species visit the lake throughout the year and some of them stay in the lake area. Knowing the bird species it was easy from existing literature to find out the habitat, nesting habit and food preferences of the birds.
The lake had a high level of eutrefication because of accumulation of domestic wastes which was diverted in the lake. The lake bottom was cleaned by introduction of specific fish species and water plants. Any manual intervention would have drastically altered the delicate balance of the lake eco-system.
As the lake was surrounded by high structures for watching the birds from the distance a narrow peripheral walkway was introduced around the lake without distributing the existing vegetation and large trees on the site.
To support the walkway, Lake periphery was filled gradually with boulders. Once the boulders were set, the top was covered with concrete to form the walkway. The slopping edge of the pathway carries a built in concrete trough for planting water plants and tall reed grass to screen the people from birds in the lake area.
There are no artificial lights on the walkway as not to distract the birds. Visiting hours are regulated and the lake area is only open during morning and evening hours.