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Kerala - Thiruvananthapuram Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Costford gives holistic touch to zoo lake

Staff Reporter

— Photo: S.Mahinsha

Sea change: The sprawling lake on the premises of the Thiruvananthapuram zoo is getting a facelift as part of a renovation scheme implemented by Costford.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The expansive lake inside the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo - complete with an island, lush vegetation and the consequent abundance of winged visitors - has never failed to arrest the attention of visitors.

However, time and man took their toll on this riot of green. Steadily and unmistakably the lake lost its sparkle, ‘lush' became an exaggeration for the flora there. Still, the birds resolutely came calling, perhaps mindful of the fact that a 3.5-acre water body is not something one finds anymore in a city which is being increasingly denuded of its green cover.

Now, both man and bird have new reasons to stop by the lake which spots a new look. As part of a Rs.98-lakh renovation project being executed by the Centre for Science and Technology for Rural Development (Costford), the lake has been dredged, its flora strengthened and new visitors' facilities have been installed.

The first task was to remove silt from the big lake and the nearby smaller one. The de-silting process was not without its share of controversy, though. The weight of the removed silt caused a portion of the zoo's compound wall to collapse.

Subsequently, when the silt was deposited at another location inside the zoo, there were many who protested that this would play havoc with the groundwater in the area.

In the event, Costford found out that the actual quantity of silt in the lake was much less than what was originally estimated.

Costford director P.B. Sajan told The Hindu that the project too ended up costing much less than its initial estimate. “Of the Rs.98 lakh, about 20 lakh was saved in the execution of the project. We are now planning to set up bamboo waiting sheds around the lake. There is a shortage of bamboo,” he explained.

As part of efforts to shore up the flora around the lake, 1,000 saplings of bamboo were planted along with 300 trees. The side of the lake near the boundary wall of the zoo has been enriched with trees to create a forest-like atmosphere for the birds to roost and nest.

Initially, there was a proposal to provide a brick-and-mortar finish to the crumbling banks of the lake.

Costford officials quickly realised that such a move would not only spoil the lie of the land but would also inhibit the flow of water in and out of the lake. Consequently, grass was planted along the banks of the lake to strengthen it in a natural manner.

A major component of the renovation scheme was the replenishment of fish in the lake. Over time, as the lake got stagnant and heavily polluted, the number of fish got drastically reduced. This, in turn, had an adverse impact on the birds which depended on the lake for their food. Now, 10,000 fry belonging to five species had been introduced into the lake. “We hope, these fast breeding fish will end up attracting more birds to the lake,” Mr. Sajan said.

Though the original plan to construct an observation tower has been shelved, Costford has put in place an observation deck that extends out into the lake. This will allow visitors to observe both the fish and the birds that come by to fish. Seats have also been installed along the lake's perimeter.

A part of the rainwater which now drains out of the zoo will be re-directed to a settling pond near the small lake. The water will flow to the small lake from here and on to the larger one. Only when the large lake overflows will water drain out to the city's sewerage system. This intermittent flow of rainwater through the two lakes will keep their waters fresh.

All renovation work will be completed soon and the new-look lake will be ready for visitors in three weeks, Mr. Sajan added.

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