Water in rain replenished Naini lake near optimum mark
Rising water level in a waterbody is often a cause for concern. Not for Naini Lake though. For the residents of Nainital, the sharp rise in the level of water in the lake, considered the lifeline of the tourist town, in the past few weeks has come as reason for rejoicingUpdated: Sep 03, 2017 20:10 IST
Rising water level in a waterbody is often a cause for concern. Not for Naini Lake though. For the residents of Nainital, the sharp rise in the level of water in the lake, considered the lifeline of the tourist town, in the past few weeks has come as reason for rejoicing.
Riding on a good monsoon this year, the lake has been replenished to a large extent with the water level rising by about 9 feet. It is expected to reach the zero level, or the optimum level, in the next few days. The zero level was marked on a scale put up at the Tallital during the British era as the lowest point to which the lake dries up during the summers.
The speed at which the lake had been drying up over the last two years had put a question mark on the very existence of the town. This year, the situation had further turned grim with the lake having started drying up in February itself. While in the past, water level used to be in the range of 5 to 7 feet above the optimum level, this year it had dropped to one foot below the zero mark by the end of February. By the end of summer several islands had cropped up and deltas had formed at the edge of the lake.
The locals took out a march demanding immediate government intervention to save the lake. Hearing a PIL demanding conversion of Nainital into an eco-sensitive zone in June, the Uttarakhand high court too asked the district administration to carry out a comprehensive study of Naini lake saying that waterbody needs immediate attention.
On its part, the government led by chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat handed over the management of the lake to the irrigation department, as it “has better expertise in water related matters”.
The public works department, which had been looking after the lake, formally handed over the charge to the irrigation department on August 30. The irrigation department engineers are now chalking out the strategy for the management and upkeep of the lake.
DK Pachauri, chief engineer, irrigation department, said they would wait for the lake to fill to its optimum by October 15. “After that the main strategy would be to retain the water. Around 1.5 crore litres of water is withdrawn everyday by the tubewells dug up in the vicinity of the lake. We will be conducting a meeting with the Jal Sansthan to find out how the lake’s water can be saved from being overexploited for drinking purposes,” he said.
Pachauri also pointed out that the National Institute of Hydrology, IIT Roorkee, and Central Soils and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute would be asked to conduct a study on the various aspects of the lake and how water can be maintained at the optimum level. “A separate course of action would be devised for the Sookhatal lake that falls upwards in the city and is considered the catchment for the Naini lake,” he added.
Anoop Sah, member, state wildlife board, and a resident of Nainital said that the main thrust of the authorities should now be to devise measures to keep the lake’s water level intact so that we do not have to face the same grim condition as was witnessed last year.