Sukhna going dry: It’s now or never, HC tells Chandigarh administration
The administration came under severe criticism of Centre with assistant solicitor general Chetan Mittal saying that the lake was in bad condition, due to apathy of officials of Chandigarh administration.punjab Updated: May 23, 2017 10:41 IST
Perturbed over reports of drying up of Sukhna Lake, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday asked the Chandigarh administration to act fast. The HC bench of justice AK Mittal and justice HS Sidhu also asked Punjab, Haryana and Centre to pitch in to save the lake.
“You have to do something, and that too on a war-footing. There is not much time left now,” the bench presided over by justice AK Mittal told UT as suggestions poured in from lawyers involved with the public interest litigation (PIL). The Central government blamed the Chandigarh administration for the mess.
“You have to be alive to the situation. The job (de-silting) was to be done by June 10. How will you complete it?” the HC bench asked UT’s counsel as it was pointed out that Rs 4 crore tender for de-silting is to be finalised after June 1 and by the time, work starts, rains would have arrived.
Assistant solicitor general Chetan Mittal pointed out that the JCB machines to be used for dredging out mud cost Rs 80 lakh each, while tender was being given for Rs 4 crore.
“It could have been done with two JCB machines each roped in from Punjab, Haryana and UT. Even within two weeks they could have made difference,” senior advocate, Rajiv Atma Ram said, who is the amicus curaie in the matter.
Later, the HC asked the UT to exploit the situation of no water in the lake and try to clear the silt as much as possible and sought a detailed plan by Thursday.
“Even Delhi is interested now and people coming from there are visiting the lake,” the bench observed without referring to unscheduled visit of BJP president, Amit Shah during his tour to Chandigarh last weekend.
- Monsoon must hit early or Sukhna goes dry by June 30: This summer could be the last that residents enjoy the Sukhna Lake. With rain predicted almost every day, but nothing on the ground, by June 30, a day after the monsoon is scheduled to hit the city, the Sukhna’s bed will run dry.
- Depth at mere 1.75 ft against required 10 ft: Against the needed depth of 10 feet, the Sukhna has now shrunk to a mere 1.75 feet. Experts have predicted that water is evaporating from the lake at the rate of 8mm a day (around one/40th of a foot a day, or a foot in 40 days) and if it does not rain, by June 30, it will go dry (depth at .7 feet, less than the depth of a child’s toy swimming pool.
- Since April 1, depth has halved: This means that from April 1 when its depth was 3.75 feet, till Thursday (May 18) at 1.75 feet, the Sukhna has lost more than half of its depth.
CENTRE BLAMES UT
The administration came under severe criticism of Centre with assistant solicitor general Chetan Mittal saying that the lake was in bad condition, due to apathy of officials of Chandigarh administration.
“They do not listen to us. They are not serious. A plan was given to them in 2013. They have done nothing. If you (UT) think (s), it (plan) was a bad one, reject it. But at least act on it,” Mittal said pointing to Centre’s suggestions.
The HC bench said that Centre should not blame the UT as all Punjab, Haryana and UT come under the Centre and the Centre itself should spearhead the campaign to save the lake. Later, the HC asked Punjab Haryana and Chandigarh to nominate a secretary level official, who would sit together and work on plan to save the lake. Two officers of Centre’s wild life ministry and water resources are to be associated with it and their names are to be given by Thursday.