Survey of India defends 2004 demarcation of Sukhna catchment area

Updated on Aug 27, 2022 02:28 AM IST

The Survey of India (SOI) has defended the accuracy of its demarcation of Sukhna Lake’s catchment area in 2004 in response to a review plea filed by Punjab, after the high court had ordered imposition of ₹100 crore fine each on Punjab and Haryana for causing damage to the catchment area and ordered demolition of all the structures i

Sukhna Lake lake now has a capacity of around 500 hectare-metres against the original capacity of 1,074 hectare metres. (HT File)
Sukhna Lake lake now has a capacity of around 500 hectare-metres against the original capacity of 1,074 hectare metres. (HT File)
By, Chandigarh

The Survey of India (SOI) has defended the accuracy of its demarcation of Sukhna Lake’s catchment area in 2004.

“A group of expert hydrologists and UT engineering department can decide whether the catchment area was demarcated suitable or not,” it said, adding that a group of experts in hydrology, drainage and water recourses can be roped in and any demarcation, if required, can be carried out on the ground in the presence of all concerned.

SOI’s statement has come in response to a review plea filed by Punjab, after the high court had ordered imposition of 100 crore fine each on Punjab and Haryana for causing damage to the catchment area and ordered demolition of all the structures in it as demarcated by SOI in 2004.

The high court’s order had come in March 2020 in a 2009 suo motu petition initiated amid depleting water level in the lake. The Punjab government’s argument is that there was no consensus ever drawn regarding veracity of the 2004 map prepared by SOI, according to which court has given its order. The map was questioned as well as objected to, not only regarding its technical aspects in terms of accuracy, but also its adoption was also disputed, Punjab had said.

Objections to the map were neither considered throughout the pendency of matter or even in the final order, it has been argued.

In March 2020 judgment, the court had declared Sukhna Lake a living entity. The review plea was filed in December 2020, after which HC stayed recovery of fine from the two governments.

Synonymous with the city, the lake was created by Le Corbusier in 1958. By up to 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. But, the water-level has once again started dipping.

The man-made lake now has a capacity of around 500 hectare-metres against the original capacity of over 1,074 hectare metres. The lake’s depth is 12-13 feet. On the north side, the lake is surrounded by a 26 square kilometre wildlife sanctuary.

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