Mass Media for Environmental Awareness

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Perspective of pollution and use of mass media in environmental awareness for The Upper Lake: A case study

Introduction

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).

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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.

Objectives

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.

Method

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.

Economic Value

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.

Problems

Causes

  1. Reduction of storage capacity of lakes
  • Inflow of silt and organic materials from urban and rural catchments along with monsoon runoff and dry weather flow.
  • Addition of clay and non-biodegradable materials through immersion of idols.
  1. Obstruction to smooth flow through the spill channel of the Upper Lake resulting in a threat to the stability of the earthen dam.
  • Constriction of the spill channel due to deposition of silt.
  1. Increase in seepage through the earthen dam of Upper Lake
  • Improper maintenance and growth of vegetation over the dam had caused dislocation of stone lining of the dam
  1. Deterioration of water quality
  • Inflow of untreated sewage from habitation.
  • Dumping of Municipal wastes not collected by the Municipal Corporation.

• 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

  1. Flourishing growth of invasive aquatic plants

• High Nutrient load of lakes due to inflow of sewage and agricultural wastes.

  1. Reduction of water spread area.

• Encroachment on the lake fringe area which gets exposed when water level falls after rains.

  1. Environmental Pollution and impurities
  • Caused by garbage thrown carelessly, empty bottles, throwing of food stuffs remained carelessly and diesel released by boats.
  • Impurities are drawn in the lake coming out from the colonies, hotels and resorts and causes water pollution.
  • Medical waste thrown in the lake

 

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

  1. Hoardings at Strategic locations
  2. Publications of special bulletin (Tal Sandesh to create awareness regarding diversion of Idol immersion activities).
  3. Advertisement in news papers regarding project actions.
  4. Communication through TV/Radio.
  5. T-Shirts/Caps showing massage of “Save Bhopal Lakes” used by the students/volunteers involved in awareness campaign.
  6. 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.

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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

Conclusion

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.

Bibliography

Anonymous, (2004). Completion Report of Public Participation and Awareness Campaign under Lake Bhopal Conservation and Management Project.

Detailed Project Report of Dredging and Desilting of lakes. (1998). Bhoj Wetland Project.

Fateh, A.L. (1982). Our Environment. National Book Trust of India: New Delhi

Kodarkar , M. S., & Mukerjee, A. (2006). Bhoj wetland, Experience and lesion learning brief. Madhya Pradesh lake conservation authority, Bhopal, India, pp.1-2.

Mukerjee, A. (2000). “Religious Activities and Water Pollution: Case Study of Idol Immersion in Upper and Lower Lakes of Bhopal.” Paper presented in World Lakes Session, 2nd World Water Forum in The Hague, Netherlands.

Mukerjee, A., P.K. Nandi & A.K. Bajpai. (2000). “Dynamics in Bhoj Wetland, Bhopal.” Paper presented at the 20th Annual International Symposium of the North American Lake Management Society, Madison, USA.

Pani, S., B.J. Khan & P.K. Nandi. (2002). “An analysis of effectiveness of restoration measures in the improvement of water quality of Bhoj Wetland.” In the Proceedings of the International Conference on Hydrology and Watershed Management, Hyderabad, India.

Postel, S. (1984). “Water: Rethinking management in an age of scarcity.” World Watch Paper 62.

Subrata, P. & S.M. Misra. (1993). “Impact of hydraulic detention on the water quality characteristics of a tropical wetland (Lower lake).” In Pankaj Srivastava (ed.). Environmental pollution and its management.

Tekale, N.S. (2003). “Idol immersion: A critical analysis of environmental impact on urban lakes and remedial measures.” In the Proceedings of the UGC-sponsored National Conference on Urban lakes: Environmental status economics and management options, Hyderabad, India

Yin, R. K. (1984). Case study research: Design and methods. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Zafar, A.R. (1959). “Taxonomy of lakes.” Hydrobiologia 13(3): 187-299.

Indu B. K. Upadhyay1

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