Over the years, though de-weeding was taken up regularly; it was done manually, which could clean the Sukhna Lake only partially. (HT Photo)
Over the years, though de-weeding was taken up regularly; it was done manually, which could clean the Sukhna Lake only partially. (HT Photo)

Chandigarh hires hi-tech machine to rid Sukhna Lake of weeds

The 12-lakh Aquatic Weed Harvesting Machine, sourced from a Mumbai-based firm, will speed up the process to remove weeds from the lake
By Munieshwer A Sagar, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON JUL 26, 2021 01:57 AM IST

Struggling to clear the Sukhna Lake of the widespread weed growth, the UT administration has, for the first time, put into use an Aquatic Weed Harvesting Machine (AWHM).

Over the years, though de-weeding was taken up regularly; it was done manually, which could clean the Sukhna Lake only partially. Now, with AWHM, the administration aims to clean the entire Sukhna Lake area of weeds in one go.

“We expect to remove all the weeds from the lake within three months. The machine, hired for three-and-half months at a cost of 12 lakh from a Mumbai firm, will help us clear the lake more effectively and that too in one-go. This is the first time, an AWHM is being used in the lake,” said CB Ojha, UT chief engineer.

The artificial lake was created in 1958 by damming Sukhna Choe, a seasonal stream coming down from the Shivalik Hills.

There is heavy weed infestation in the lake, which has led to its area decreasing from the original 228 hectares to 148 hectares, as per department officials.

Aquatic weeds (water-borne grass), such as potamogeton crispus, Hydrilla verticillata and Vallisneria spiralis etc., grow in the Lake and hinder the boating experience for visitors, besides giving it a shabby look.

In a bid to conserve the lake, the Punjab and Haryana high court has also repeatedly been directing the UT to check weed growth and take necessary measures to preserve its original character and beauty.

“Earlier, manual removal of weeds was a slow process. It took a long time and we were not able to clean the lake properly. Workers involved in the cleaning of the lake also reported getting infections and allergies because of the work. So, it became imperative to remove these water weeds through specialised machinery and equipment,” said Ojha.

One of the options was to adopt the Dal Lake model. “After assistance from Jammu and Kashmir Lakes and Waterways Development Authority didn’t materialise for cleaning up the lake with the same technique, the department floated tenders for hiring machines on its own,” he added.

What is an aquatic weed harvester

It is an environmentally friendly method of controlling excessive aquatic plant growth and nuisance vegetation in a water-body like lake. It helps in the removal of submerged, emergent and free-floating vegetation in a lake. “Like a farm harvester, an aquatic weed harvester cuts the vegetation, collecting and storing the weeds on board. Aquatic weed harvesters are fitted with a pick-up conveyor at the forward end of the machine, which can be lowered under water to cut weeds. One horizontal and two vertical cutter bars severe the vegetation as the machine moves forward through the water and when the storage hold becomes full, the weed harvester returns to shore to unload,” said Ojha.

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