ASSERTING that life of Sukhna Lake has reduced due to heavy natural siltation in the initial decades after its construction in 1958,an expert body of National Institute of Hydrology,Roorkee,has submitted that Sukhna Lake can be kept alive for longer period than its natural age of extinction. This,the expert body has submitted,can be done through regular monitoring and conservation efforts. The experts have recommended that this job can be effectively handled by a body or a committee which is specifically assigned this job.
A voluminous report was submitted by the expert body through advocate Onkar Singh Batalvi in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday.
Making it clear that those attached with Sukhna Lake need to refrain from over-reacting or scaring,the expert body has submitted that it needs to be realised that Sukhna Lake is basically a rain-fed lake and the streams feeding it are not perennial.
Since rains are the only source of water for the lake,the water availability in the lake would always be determined by the variability in rainfall characteristics, reads the report running into over 300 pages.
It appears that the hue and cry being made about these problems,particularly about the water scarcity problem,is much in proportion to the degree of severity of the problems, it reads.
Submitting that the most severe problem of Sukhna Lake is siltation,the degraded Shivalik Hills,at the foothills of which the lake is located,are prone to heavy erosion.
The expert body has stated that the erosion rate and subsequent siltation rate of the lake is still high. Regular desilting of the lake will also remove nutrients regularly from the lake,thereby helping to control eutrophication/aquatic weeds. However,dredging should be carried out scientifically,both in terms of the quantity of silt to be removed from the lake as well as the areas of the lake where dredging should be carried out, the report reads.
Insisting that the real trouble is with the deficient rainfall year,the Roorkee experts say even with the check dams,if the rainfall is normal,the lake can get adequate water.
The experts say that it is not desirable to reduce the capacities of the check dams to almost zero or negligible as this may lead to either no or very limited water available for the wildlife in the catchment.
Commenting on check dams,it has been submitted that although zero capacity of the check dams is not desirable,it is still felt that the amount of water which is being stored in the check dams is much more than the actual needs of the wildlife. Moreover,most of the water which is not being utilised by the wildlife is otherwise getting lost through the process of evaporation because most of the check dams are very shallow and are subjected to heavy evaporation losses. This is certainly not desirable.
In an important recommendation,the body has stated although the expert body has recommended lowering the capacity of the check dams,in view of the important role being still played by the check dams in arresting the siltation of the lake,it is recommended that they should not be destroyed,damaged or distributed for the sake of reducing capacities. They would always be needed. Their capacities can be naturally lowered if their desilting is stopped for few years.