Good monsoon brings Sukhna Lake back to life (Letter from Chandigarh)August 28th, 2008 - 10:27 am ICT by IANS
Chandigarh, Aug 28 (IANS) Thanks to the good monsoon rainfall in the last few months, the picturesque Sukhna Lake that is the showpiece of this city is once again brimming with water.The maximum depth is now 1,163 feet, highest in the last three years and ten feet more than the average.
A few months ago experts had declared that Sukhna Lake was dying a slow death, with the continuous drop in the water level for many years. But now, the authorities have been forced to open the overflow gates of the lake for the first time in three years.
People who live nearby are now worried about flooding, but the authorities dismiss any such threat.
“We do not have any threat at the current level,” S.K. Jaitley, chief engineer of the Chandigarh administration, told IANS. “Moreover we have a plan to avoid any untoward situation.”
Jaitley is now working overtime to stop the flow of silt into the lake. “Sukhna Lake is an important destination for tourists from all over the world. This water level should remain for the next few months and now we are working to prevent too much silt from entering the lake,” he said.
Sukhna is an artificial rain-fed lake in the foothills of the Shivalik range in Chandigarh. It was dug in 1958 over 340 acres. It gets its water from streams that bring rainwater from surrounding hills.
Another official of the Chandigarh engineering department said: “We’re expecting that this water level will be maintained until April 2009.”
Apart from tourists, Sukhna Lake is the favourite picnic spot for Chandigarh residents. Hundreds of people throng the area every day. The area is also favoured by painters and photographers.
“Apart from Dal Lake in Kashmir, this is the only lake in northern India where you will see shikaras,” says Raju, who runs one of the little cruise boats on the lake. “There are five shikaras and these were introduced here around one and a half years back. There is huge demand for them and they are booked throughout the day.”
Beside shikaras, there are around 100 other cruise boats at Sukhna Lake. There is also a two-km channel for rowers that is of international standard.
The lake still suffers because silt keeps flowing into it.
“To reduce the silt level we have made small water bodies in the catchment areas. But we need very advanced technology and equipment to prevent this completely. We have sent a proposal to the central government regarding this but it is very time consuming and we are not expecting much out of that,” said a senior official of the Chandigarh engineering department.
“We have many efficient plans for the maintenance of the lake, but all of them are on paper. Our administration is very enthusiastic about this, but we have to wait for a green signal from the central government. That usually takes many years.”
(Alkesh Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)