Walkers were overcome with nostalgia on Monday as they returned for a stroll along the Sukhna Lake that was reopened after a month.
The chill and dense fog failed to deter the morning walkers, who stepped out of their beds while pushing aside apprehensions of bird flu fogging their minds since the lake was closed to public on December 18.
Walkers were seen thronging the lake even before it was thrown open at 7am. The UT administration made elaborate arrangements to welcome the residents, with the police band playing light music and flags adorning the walkway along the lake.
Residents made for gleeful strollers and greeted each other, with their only regret being the absence of their feathered friends — the domesticated geese that were culled following the bird flu scare in December. The only respite was some migratory birds visiting the lake.
Among the walkers were senior citizens, housewives, professionals, bureaucrats and even youngsters. Hockey Olympian Pargat Singh was also seen taking a stroll. Boards stating “Lifeline of Chandigarh breathes again” were erected in several places. Barricades were also set up on the stairs dissuading the visitors from going down and warning them against feeding any birds at the lake. Business also resumed at the lake shops by the later half of the day.
The morning walkers had a common emotion that nothing could match the serene beauty of the lake and it was a great relief coming back to their ‘walking’ destination. Majority of the walkers that Hindustan Times talked to said their alternative all these days was Rose Garden in Sector 16.
As the lake was thrown open to public, UT adviser Vijay Dev led the walkers. He was accompanied by almost the entire UT administration machinery, including UT home secretary Anurag Agarwal, deputy commissioner Mohammed Shayin, finance secretary Saravjit Singh and senior superintendent of police (SSP) Sukhchain Singh Gill. Three sub-divisional magistrates (SDMs) Prince Dhawan, Kashish Mittal and Danish Ashraf had also come along with senior functionaries. As the day progressed, the lake was thronged by hundreds of tourists and youngsters. A large number of hostellers of Chandigarh Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Sector 42, were also present.
Commemorative symbol for geese
“We will ensure that glory of the lake is restored. We are also raising a commemorative symbol for the geese at the lake which were culled,” said UT adviser Vijay Dev. “Boating will be resumed after consulting experts from Bhopal’s National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD). The UT administration is also yet to take a decision on whether they will get domesticated geese again,”he added.