Badkal lake rejuvenation project delayed by a yearUpdated: Aug 15, 2020 23:38 IST
The Badkal lake rejuvenation project, first conceived in April 2018 as part of the Faridabad Smart City Mission, has been inordinately delayed on account of clearances from the forest department and land acquisition issues , and work on filling up the empty lake bed with recycled sewage water is now slated to commence only in August next year, confirmed officials privy to the matter. The project was initially supposed to be completed by October 2020.
Rajesh Joon, additional divisional manager, Haryana tourism department and nodal officer, Surajkund Mela Authority, who is also closely involved in the Badkal lake rejuvenation project, said, “The clearances required from the forest department were a significant hurdle, but in-principle approval has now been granted. We are currently parsing through revenue records to establish the ownership pattern of the land, and are expecting final clearance from the forest department within the next two or three weeks. Work on filling up the water body itself will only start by next August.”
Hindustan Times had reported, on November 21 last year, that the tourism department had sought diversion of 76 acres of forest land for the project. As per documents available on the Parivesh portal for environmental clearances, the forest department’s nod is in now in its final stage.
Moreover, while the proposed sewage treatment plant (STP) that will supply the lake with water had been approved by the state government in November last year, land acquisition issues in the area where the STP is slated to be constructed also threw a wrench in the proposal’s progress, confirmed a senior technical advisor with the Faridabad Smart City Mission Limited (FSCML) , seeking anonymity. “We have begun construction of boundary walls, but the plant itself is yet to come up,” the official said.
Emerging as a popular tourist spot in the late 1960s, the Badkal lake bed has been bone-dry for over a decade. In 2010, it was briefly filled up ahead of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, but a subsequent report by the Delhi Parks and Gardens Society (DPGS), in 2014, declared the lake to be completely dry. By some estimates, there hasn’t been any water there since 2006.
The lake’s 42-odd hectares are now overrun with scrubby mesquite trees. Rampant mining in the adjoining Aravalli hills has altered the region’s hydrogeology, ravaged the catchment areas and damaged the underlying groundwater aquifer. A 2010 research survey led by geologist Sudhanshu Shekhar, titled ‘Conservation of hydrogeological heritage : A case study of Badkhal lake’, stated, “Mining activities, including blasting over the years, have denuded the catchments areas, which led to soil erosion, creation and opening up of secondary porosity. Mining also generated huge amounts of debris which block the flow of rainwater into the lakes.”
According to the current proposal, which was submitted to the government by IIT-Roorkee in March last year, the lake bed will be freed of all invasive tree species and compacted with a slurry of bentonite clay, to impede groundwater recharge. Following this, an STP will supply the lake bed with about 9.5 MLD of treated water per day, for about 200 days, which would result in a water body with a depth of six metres. “We will start clearing the lakebed of trees and shrubs as soon as we get a go ahead from the forest department,” Joon said.
Joon also added that the Badkal lake rejuvenation project, if successful, will serve as a model for reviving tourism at other water bodies in the Aravallis of Gurugram and Faridabad. “Similar plans are underway to revive the Saras tourist complex at the nearby Damdama lake, but we have to get everything right with Badkal first,” he said.