Golf course putting holes in Nal ecology

  • 22/02/2008

The 18-hole golf course close to Nal Sarovar, that is driving an unfettered property development near the bird sanctuary, threatens to upset the delicate ecology there. Environmentalists say that the amount of fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and other chemicals required to maintain this vast, artificially created, landscape is a threat to the bio-diversity of the lake. According to experts, the usage of chemicals in maintaining golf courses at times even exceeds the amount used in agriculture. With such intensive use, golf courses threaten to pollute ground and surface waters. Member of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and IIM-A faculty Prof Priyadarshi Shukla says this type of projects causes gradual and irreversible damage which breaks sustainability, putting pressure on the ecosystem. "Our green assets are under threat with a lot of property deve l o p m e n t h ap p e n i n g closer to ecosystems. If special laws are made for SEZs, which are productive assets, special laws are also needed for luxury assets, our ecosystems,' he says. "The golf course is being developed as a private property, but that should not happen at the cost of the ecology of Nal. Development should take place without compromising on the existence and sustainability of the ecology' says Shukla. According to environmentalist Kandarp Kathju, the golf course is more detrimental to the health of Nal Sarovar than any other project coming up there, such as the Film City. "Nal Sarovar and its downstream water bodies are at the heart of the delicate ecological system of the area. Today's golf requires tabletop greenery and this requires pesticides and fertilizers to maintain the course,' he says. Golf courses also require huge amount of water, which can result in depletion of underground as well as surface water levels. The entire area of Nal Sarovar with 360 islets is extremely shallow and seldom more than two metres deep, most of which get submerged during monsoon. Traditionally, farmers in the area have used water from the lake for cultivation. There are around 20,000 buffaloes in surrounding villages that feed on the aquatic plants and grass on the edges of Sarovar eight months of the year."The pesticides are likely to flow into the water bodies, besides percolating into the water table. Not just the aquatic environment, but the entire ecology, of which local communities are an integral part, is facing the risk of toxic chemicals polluting the water bodies,' says Kathju. Shukla says, "Developing a market requires foresight, and it is time the policy makers started