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Rabindra Sarobar Lake, previously known as Dhakuria Lake, is an artificial lake in south Kolkata. This is Kolkata’s only national lake is spread over 48 hectares and comprises several smaller water bodies. It was dug in 1920s to provide soil for filling up the low-lying areas of Ballygunge, which was at that time being made habitable by the Calcutta Improvement Trust. It is popularly referred to as the "Lungs of Calcutta".

The lake is suffering from environmental degradation. Water pollution is on the rise, owing to encroachment. Rabindra Sarobar has shrunk beyond recognition and its water is heavily polluted as large numbers of people are using its water for washing and bathing purposes, daily.


Down To Earth

Left Undressed
IN COMPLIANCE with a Supreme Court (SC) directive, thousands of ‘illegal squatters’ along railway tracks around Rabindra Sarobar (lake) in south Kolkata will be evicted soon.

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Analysis Kolkata
Since 1980, the Howarh Gantantrik Nagarik Samiti (HGNS) has been trying to raise awareness about civic problems in Howarh area of Kolkata. It filed almost a dozen public interest petitions in the Calcutta High Court between 1982-1995.

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Ray, M. and Majumdar, S. 2005. Evaluating economic sustainability of urban and peri-urban waterbodies A case study from Kolkata ponds. Published in Biodiversity and Quality of Life- p135-146 – Ed Nirmal Sengupta and Jayanta Badyopadhyay – Macmillan, New Delhi.



Bhattacharya S. Mukherjee K. Garg J.K, 1992,Wetlands of West Bengal. Published by Institute of Wetland Management and Ecological design. 134 p.

  1997: Subhash Dutta, representing the Howrah Ganatantrik Nagarik Samiti (HGNS), along with two other non-governmental organizations Rabindra Sarovar Bachao Committee and Paribesh Dushan Rodh Committee filed a petition in the green bench of Calcutta High Court demanding development of the lake. Kolkata Improvement Trust (KIT) alleges water being polluted by the squatters.

1999: The green bench ordered that a Rs 76-crore project be executed to build sanitation facilities for slum-dwellers. As per the order the cost of installing these facilities was to be shared by the Eastern Railways and the state government.

1999: Eastern railways (ER) demanded eviction of settlers but the state favored improvement of their conditions. ER moved to Supreme Court against state’s decision.

1999: The SC ordered the High Court (HC) to take steps to see that the orders of eviction were given effect to at the earliest.

2001: HC issued orders to the state and Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) to evict the squatters.

2002: The settlers resisted the joint effort of KMC-state.

2002: HC directed the state, as well as the railways, to evict the squatters and put up a boundary wall around the water body to keep the settlers from using the water.

2002: Sougata Roy, a local member of legislative assembly (MLA) filed a special legal petition requesting the court to give grace period of six months. 

The High Court accepted the appeal.

2003: Squatters move apex court against eviction directive.

2003: Supreme Court rejects squatter’s petition, orders eviction.

2003: Listed under the National Lake conservation Scheme. Rs 4 crores sanctioned. Beautification of the lake starts

2004: High Court asked the state and the ER to carry out Supreme Court directive within two weeks.

2004: The Green Bench of Calcutta High Court had asked the Pollution Control Board (PCB) and the Institute of Wetland Management and Ecological Design to inspect the lake, analyze the water quality and recommend measures for improvement.

2004: The West Bengal PCB submitted a report on the condition of the water to the green bench of Calcutta High Court on Monday stating that the water quality had crossed the acceptable parameters.

2005: Squatters at Rabindra Sarovar were directed today to submit memoranda stating their willingness to vacate railway land with their family members according to the conditions set by the state government directly before the Division Bench of Calcutta High Court.

2005: Fencing work of the lake completed.

2005: The high court had clearly told the railways and the state administration that the settlers along the Sarovar must be evicted between November 11 and 30, 2005.

2005: Dutta announced that he would not proceed with the Public interest litigation (PIL) that had prompted Calcutta High Court to pass the eviction order, with a November deadline. His only aim was a pollution free lake and he was satisfied with the measures taken.

2006: The state government submitted a compliance report in the court saying that the encroached area had been cleared. The railway authorities also informed the court that they had got possession of the land and had started building a boundary wall. Satisfied with the reports, the division bench the HC disposed off the case made by Dutta.

2006: With the railway tracks along Rabindra Sarovar freed of squatters, state sanctions Rs 2 crores project for beautification of the Lakes KIT, the nodal agency in the revamp of the water body, has engaged the experts of Jadavpur University in the revival program. The government has set a three-month deadline for finalizing the blueprint and the CIT is scheduled to start work by April.

2007: The team of the University has prepared the report in 10 months. Development work of Rabindra Sarovar under National Lake Conservation Plan is in progress.  It is expected to be completed by January 2008. 

2008: The phased urban renewal initiative has been flagged off with landscaping and beautification programme designed to bring people back to the Lakes.

2008: Green activists irked by the mindless beautification scheme of KMC especially the concrete pavements around the lake.

May 2009: The citizens take initiative to clean the weeds and garbage.

Subhash Dutta
Howrah Ganatantrik Nagarik Samiti, 21/1,
Guitendal lane
Howrah, Kolkata-711 001
West Bengal
91-33-24642921, 22495290