Students out on boats to save Sukhna lakeMay 15th, 2010 - 4:37 pm ICT by IANS
By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, May 15 (IANS) Young enthusiastic students sailed on boats and extracted grass, weeds and silt from Sukhna lake, a Chandigarh landmark that is being suffocated by excessive silting and receding water levels.
The students were from the National Cadets Corps (NCC) of all three defence units — army, navy and air force — that initiated a two-day ‘Save Sukhna Lake’ campaign concluding Saturday.
This was for the first time NCC cadets volunteered to save Sukhna.
“The administration raised many questions about the safety of students but somehow we convinced them and started the campaign,” Major General Mohabbat Singh Virk, additional director of NCC units (Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh), told IANS.
“The response has been so enthusiastic and students are very happy. We have kept aside every other work. My whole staff participated.”
Nearly 1,500 NCC cadets, including around 400 girls, and 90 defence officials took part in the campaign. Sitting on boats, they removed the grass and weeds grown under the water. They also removed the silt and cleaned the surroundings of Sukhna lake.
Volunteer cadets from different Chandigarh schools were very cheerful and took it as a good lesson.
“I have been coming to Sukhna lake with friends and family members for the last 13 years, but we never thought about the excessive silt and weeds that are gradually eating it away. I am proud that I am associated with the campaign,” said Priya Sachdeva, a cadet in the army unit of NCC.
Another cadet, Aksar Sharma, a Class 10 student, said: “Sukhna lake is an important landmark of the city and over the years it has become the USP of Chandigarh to attract both domestic and foreign tourists. Therefore, we certainly owe some responsibility towards it. It is our duty to save it.”
“We are getting a chance to work in a big team and it is a learning platform for us to hone our leadership skills. Some of my friends have decided to come here on every weekend to continue the drive,” Sharma said.
Carrying posters, placards and shouting slogans to save Sukhna lake, the cadets are playing an important role in disseminating knowledge among hundreds of visitors coming to the lake.
Defence officials are enthused with the good response and they have made sufficient safety arrangements to avoid any untoward incident.
“We followed all precautionary measures. Special gloves and tools were provided to the cadets. Trained swimmers, an ambulance and our medical team was there for any emergency. We will conduct similar campaigns more frequently in the coming days,” Virk said.
The man-made lake, which is popular among tourists, boating enthusiasts and daily morning and evening walkers, now has a capacity of only about 513 hectare metres as against the original capacity of over 1,074 hectare metres in the late 1950s when it was built.
Much of the capacity of Sukhna lake has been lost to hundreds of tonnes of silt that has accumulated in the lake over the last five decades.
Shikha Malhotra, an upbeat NCC cadet, said: “It’s very exciting and at the same time adventurous. Earlier I thought it would be very difficult, especially for girls, to extract the weeds beneath the water while sailing in a boat but now I am actually enjoying it.”
Vimi Sehgal, another cadet, said: “We have also got a chance to prove that girls are second to none if they are provided with equal opportunities. We want more such activities during our NCC camps.”
The lake is a must-visit spot for the over one million tourists coming annually to this city - a union territory and also the joint capital of Punjab and Haryana.
It was conceived as a place of relaxation, seclusion and sport by the city’s founder architect Le Corbusier and his team.
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Tags: 13 years, aksar, army navy, army unit, cadets, defence officials, defence units, enthusiastic students, frie, grass weeds, himachal pradesh, landmark, leadership skills, learning platform, mohabbat, ncc, silt, sukhna lake, usp, water levels