SUKHNA LAKE’S life would only be 75 years from now if immediate measures like desilting are not taken, scientists attached to the central government on Saturday warned members of the high-powered committee that met on Saturday to discuss the issue of the drying lake on the directions of Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Scientists from the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) Roorkee also produced findings of the study of the lake and analysis that their team carried out since 2013 at the meeting. The meeting, comprising officials from Punjab, Haryana, UT and scientists from the Centre, met at the UT Guest house.
Talking to Chandigarh Newsline, Suhas Khobragade, Senior Scientist with NIH and Principal Investigator, emphasised that desilting was highly important as the high rate of silt reduces storage capacity of the lake, thereby reducing its life. “As per our study which we presented to the members, the annual rate of silt which is coming to the lake is 7 hectare metre and desilting has to be carried out regularly. If this rate increases, its life would even be below 75 years,” said Khobragade, who conducted the study with scientist Dr Sudhir Kumar and his team.
In the detailed report, it was discussed that the lake does not face the problem of water availability when the rainfall during monsoon is normal which is 1121 mm for Chandigarh. However, if the rainfall is below 1121 mm, dry patches start appearing and because of deficit rainfall, an alternative arrangement of providing additional water would have to be devised. It was said that during the month of May, there is a loss of 10 mm of water daily from the lake. Also, it was put forth that the lake’s water level has been falling substantially through seepage and new techniques to check that should be adopted.
“Even if the lake is able to retain water, there is loss of water through evaporation and substantially through seepage. And, by one month, until monsoon arrives, the water level would go down by nearly one more feet which would bring the level to 1,151 feet. However, if monsoon, too, is delayed by nearly 10 to 15 days, the lake’s bed may start getting exposed,” added another member who attended the meeting.
The committee felt that the only option was to bring in additional water to the lake during winter. Members of the UT administration then said that they have been mooting to divert 2 MGD water from the Bhakra main line canal from November to February for a permanent solution to increase the lake’s water. “As discussed yesterday, we took up the suggestion of diverting Bhakra water in winters and these details would be placed before the High Court on Monday,” said a senior officer. Further, it was discussed that weeds need to be removed and its growth can be checked by analysing the soil there.
Lake dries up every 4-5 yrs
According to the study conducted by the administration, the lake dries up every four to five years. The annual water level is recorded only after monsoon. So far, the lowest post-monsoon water level recorded for the lake is 1,154.55 ft in 1987. According to recorded water levels of the last three decades, water has dipped below the red flag level of 1,157-1,158 feet several times since 1981. Whenever the post-monsoon level is below 1,157-1,158 feet, the lake usually dries up the next summer.
At the meeting, it was discussed that if water is to be diverted from Bhakra to give additional water to the lake in winter, Punjab and Haryana, too, will have to give its share for Sukhna Lake.