Sukhna Lake’s flood gates are opened when its water level reaches 1,163 feet. (HT Photo)
Sukhna Lake’s flood gates are opened when its water level reaches 1,163 feet. (HT Photo)

It’s mid-June, and Chandigarh’s Sukhna Lake is nearly full

Water level in June already highest in seven years, thanks to sufficient rainfall in the past couple of years and early onset of monsoon this week
By Munieshwer A Sagar, Chandigarh
PUBLISHED ON JUN 17, 2021 01:49 AM IST

Even as Chandigarh has yet to face the full unfolding of monsoon, Sukhna Lake is already brimming with water within first fortnight of June.

On Wednesday, its water level was at 1,156.4 feet, highest in June in the last seven years.

Compared to 170.3mm rain during June last year, the city has already received 125.7mm in the month this year following the early arrival of monsoon on June 13.

The lake’s flood gates are opened when its water level reaches 1,163 feet. An alert is sounded the moment the level inches towards 1,162 feet.

UT chief engineer CB Ojha said, “Generally, the water in the lake recedes between March and June. But the city has recorded good rainfall in the last couple of years. So this year, even before proper advancement of monsoon, the lake is already full of water.”

The immediate jump in its levels can also be attributed to the UT engineering department recently releasing upstream water into the lake after the water level on the other side of the inlet gate touched 1,160 feet.

The lake is considered to be drying when the water recedes to 1,152 feet, as seen in June 2017.

In 2015 and 2016, it was tad higher at 1,153 feet. It rose to 1,155.2 feet in June 2018 and 1,156 feet the next year. Last year too, the water level hovered around 1,155 feet.

In August last year, incessant rain in the catchment area had forced the UT officials to open two floodgates of the lake after the water level crossed the danger mark of 1,163 feet. Before this, flood gates were also opened in September 2018, a first since a similar situation was witnessed in 2008.

“The water level in the lake crossed the danger mark mainly because of the heavy rainfall in the hilly regions and its catchment areas. The local city’s rain had limited impact,” said Ojha.

Synonymous with Chandigarh, Sukhna Lake was created by Le Corbusier in 1958. By 1988, 66% of the original water holding capacity of the lake was lost due to silting. Following this, check dams were constructed in the catchment area.

The man-made lake now has a capacity of around 500 hectare metres against the original capacity of over 1,074 hectare metres. On the north side, the lake is surrounded by 26 square-kilometre area of wildlife sanctuary.

The high court is also monitoring the protection of the lake after initiating a suo motu petition in 2009.

UT asks Mohali to clean up Sukhna Choe

Last year’s opening of flood gates had led to flash floods in the Sukhna Choe, leaving Zirakpur’s Baltana area inundated, and causing damage to many residential and commercial structures.

To avoid a repeat, the UT administration has written to Mohali to finish cleaning the choe in its jurisdiction.

“The cleaning work in our area is nearing completion. But, if it is not taken up in downstream Mohali, it will again lead to flooding in Zirakpur areas,” said a UT official.

The UT engineering department has also deputed three sub-divisional engineers to keep a 24-hour tab on the lake’s water levels, which will be recorded every two hours as monsoon picks up pace in the region.

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