The state irrigation department has drawn up a Rs 13 crore plan to restoring water bodies in Nainital, including Naini lake, Bhimtal and Sattal. Officials of the state irrigation department said that the project aims at cleaning and beautification of the lakes along with research and preservation of water bodies which have seen water levels dwindle, especially in the summers, because of increased demands on them.
Brijendra Singh, executive engineer of irrigation department, said, “The project will include Naini lake, Harishtal, Sattal, Naukuchiyatal, Bhimtal and various other water bodies in the district. We plan to clean the lakes of silt deposition and beautify and revive Sukhatal.”
The lake basin of Sukhatal will be provided with a protective wall to check encroachments. The Uttarakhand high court had ordered removal of encroachments around the water body in June. A detailed project report on the preservation, restoration water and resurrection of the lake had been prepared by experts from geology department at IIT Roorkee. The report has been submitted to the state government and work is expected to begin next month.
Earlier, government officials and environmentalists had sounded caution after water level in Naini lake was found to have plunged 14 feet below normal. Experts said less winter rain along with encroachment in catchment areas as well as increased pressure on the lake to fulfill water requirements of the rising number of residents and tourists are the factors responsible for the decrease in water level. In order to tackle water shortage in the hill town, the district administration has put a stay on all construction activity in the town.
Ajay Singh Rawat, former head of the department of history of Kumaun University and a prominent crusader for the cause of lakes, filed a PIL in the Uttarakhand high court in 2012, had requested the court to convert Nainital into eco-sensitive zone in order to save the ecosystem of the area.
Rawat had earlier told that the consumption of water in the hill town has increased manifold. “Earlier, it was around 6-7 million litres per day (MLD) which has now shot up to 16MLD. Water consumption in the town which has already passed its carrying capacity in 2006 is also a factor contributing hugely to the degradation of the water body,” Rawat had said.
Talking on Monday, Rawat said, “The plan sounds good but we should keep in mind that without preservation of catchment areas of the lakes these efforts will amount to nothing.”
Sameer Sah, a resident of Nainital, said, “The plan is fine but its implementation will be challenging. Much work is needed to create awareness about preservation of the lake and its ecosystem.”