The Damdama Lake, a natural water reservoir in Sohna and Haryana’s biggest lake spreading across 62 acres, has shrunk to about 400 metres in length, around 15 feet in width and approximately six to seven feet in depth. At its best, the rain-fed lake can extend to eight km in length, two-and-a-half kilometres in width and 20 feet in depth.
According to environment analyst Chetan Agarwal, “The lake is drying up because of man-made and natural factors. The rainfall pattern is changing and the level of groundwater has also reduced because of excessive groundwater extraction in the Aravali area. Water bodies like the Damdama Lake are on the brink of extinction as it is completely dependent on the monsoon. Mining in the catchment is another aspect as water from the forest that would normally fill the lake has reduced dramatically. The Damdama is in a bad shape as it is both receiving and retaining less water. This is common to all other lakes near the Aravali region.”
Vivek Bharadwaj, manager of Haryana Tourism department’s Damdama Tourist Complex, said, “The lake usually starts from the boundary wall of the complex and in monsoon can only be crossed by using boats, which are now tied at the bank as they can’t move much. I have not seen such a scenario in the past.”
“When it rains, water runs off the Aravalli hills and fills up the lake. So yes, Damdama is heavily reliant on the annual monsoon,” he added.
However, villagers are of the opinion that a good rain can still fill the lake. “Though we experience this situation at this time of the year annually, this year it is very critical,” Balbir Yadav, a lifeguard, said.