Pandemic Protection: Tradeoff at a cost of Future Threat

Case Study: Lake in Golf Club Road

by Srijita Chakrabarti

The pandemic since the year 2020 has turned the world upside down especially concerning the natural resources at large which have majorly suffered. The tradeoff highlighted in this situation is at a cost of great future threat. The case highlighted in this article talks about the situation of a pond located in the posh locality of Kolkata, Tollygunge- Golfclub Road. In India due to the lockdown, the natural resources have witnessed deterioration due to the influx of infectious waste, and massive consumption and hoarding have further worsened the situation, The problem also encompasses the issue of migration and influx of extra population which resulted in and financial crisis among the vulnerable community. The pond located in the middle of a suburban area is a place of great significance, owned and managed by the Royal Calcutta Golf Club, sharing its borders with the locality slum and places of great religious significance (Masjid on one side and a Temple on the other). The presence of the residential buildings and hospitals makes the location of the lake a matter of great strategic importance. However, there has been an interplay of multiple factors playing on this piece of the water body.

The issue of Pollution has been entrenched for the longest time. The lake is used for all kinds of purposes and due to the lack of authority and proper management, the lake has been exploited to its fullest. Pre Covid the lake was used for dumping domestic waste from the residential areas and the slum due to which the area has always established itself to be prone to obnoxious odor, dengue, and malaria. However, the 2020 Pandemic made situations persons, due to the presence of Hospitals in the vicinity the Lake vicinity was rampantly used for dumping of Infectious wastes (masks, gloves, PPE kits)- healthcare waste – estimated face mask (as per the population) use. When we consider Asian countries’ scenario in waste disposal, there is improper management of waste persisting for ages. But the pandemic has worsened the situation with a kind of medical waste such as masks, gloves, and PPE suits. Institutional assistance plays a major role in waste disposal and collection especially at the urban water bodies which lack boundaries and waste dynamics at the local level. In this we will look at the possible threats (Anthropogenic activity), the medical waste can cause to the lakhs of common-pool resources (which have minimal or no monitoring by the local bodies). It has been noticed that the deteriorating condition of the lake is primarily due to the issue of Governance and Lack of community awareness.

Encompassing the issue of migration and lack of proper management the reverse migration has taken a toll on the water body, Rapid increase in the population of the slum area has contributed greatly to the increasing pollution levels of the lake. This situation thus highlights the fact that the pandemic has not created an ambiance for nature to breathe. Based upon the primary data collected- lack of awareness and the issue of governance has aggravated the covid cases in the neighborhood. The condition of the water is brackish therefore not only the health of the water body- but the health of the residents are also at risk. The intertwining relationship of the humans and the water body is thus being highlighted. The majority prone to risk are the slum dwellers who are majorly dependent on the water body for various resources.

The solution to the above-mentioned problems appears in ways like- Instead of various types of masks, gloves, and PPE, a unique type(in material and reusable) must be utilized- a proper system of waste management thus needs to be established. This situation calls for the application of Ostrom’s principles of management of common-pool resources. The resource area must be clearly defined- The private body along with the Local municipality must join hands to provide a proper boundary to the CPR. There has to be a proper rule mechanism- which shall include the local members as decision-makers- who are dependent on the resource for various essential purposes. There should be Usage of graduated sanctions for rule violators, There should be a provision for accessibility of, low-cost means for dispute resolution. Lastly -Develop a system, carried out by community members, for monitoring members’ behavior on the CPR. SES FRAMEWORK needs to be applied – Coordination between Governance unit, and users unit must be in relation with resource system and resource unit interaction. Socio-Ecological Resilience principles such as Learning and Experimentation, Participation of users at all levels of governance is crucial. Resilience in this case can be related to Waterbodies being complex and Adaptive systems. SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 11 AND 12, should be equally focused upon enhancing existing waste treatment facilities, to reduce pandemic-induced waste generated.

Published by LakesOfIndia

Lakes of India is an E.F.I initiative aimed at sensitizing the larger public on freshwater habitats across the country. A blog platform where one can read about lakes across India. You can become a guest blogger to write about a lake in your hometown and initiate an action to protect that lake.

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