Save Mansagar Lake

On the outskirts of the Indian city of Jaipur, surrounded by the Nahargarh hills, lies the 300-acre Mansagar Lake. Formed sometime during the 18th century, this manmade lake is about 130 hectares in its total spread. Jal Mahal, an ancient architectural monument, is situated in the midst of Mansagar Lake. Over the years, as the city expanded, thousands of tonnes of urban sewage recklessly flowed into the lake, and contaminated it. The rainwater mingled with the polluted water of the lake and created a stench. The state government of Rajasthan eventually woke up but due to paucity of funds, all its attempts failed to restore the ecological and environmental condition of the lake and its adjoining area. This task was then taken up by Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd (JMRPL), backed by Hong Kong-based KGK consortium.

The Vision

A public-private partnership was created between the state government and Jal Mahal Resorts Pvt Ltd (JMRPL). In 2007, JMRPL took the whole area of the lake and 100 acres of land around it, totaling 432 acres, on a 99-year lease from the government of Rajasthan. This lake restoration project included the creation of Jal Tarang, a green leisure destination for visitors and locals along Mansagar Lake. At the heart of Jal Tarang was to be the newly resplendent Jal Mahal, a unique cultural venue, where music, dance, poetry and the arts would blossom.

Since then, much was done to first restore the lake, and save this derelict heritage. By 2010, after laying out hundreds of crores towards expert consultancy and restoration work, the face of the lake was changed. The lake breathed, and once again became a natural habitat for more than 150 species of local and migratory birds besides sustaining aquatic life and vegetation.

Legal Tangles

However, the success of the project and its potential for tourism awoke some green eyed monsters. Between 2010 and 2011, the project got legally entangled in three civil writ petitions (public interest litigation) demanding to quash and set aside the Mansagar Lake Lease Agreement under which 100 acres of land was given to Jal Mahal Resorts Private Limited for a period of 99 years.

As the parties battle it out in court, private enterprises cannot touch the lake even as government agencies are not equipped to maintain the lake. The sewage treatment plant is not working. Once again, neglect and pollution threaten the delicate survival of this orphaned lake. With rains playing truant this season, it is feared that the lake will die, unless some urgent action is taken. This lake is urgently crying out for your support.