Badee Jheel,a picturesque water body that draws large number of people and also provides drinking water to nearly half the city,is fast drying up. From a once sprawling spread of 31 sq km,the Upper Lake has shrunk to less than nine sq km. This year the region received little over half its average rainfall,exposing stark patches in the lake that seems to be expanding every day.
The state Government on Sunday began a public campaign Apna Sarovar Apni Dharohar Bada Taal Sarakshan Abhiyan to increase the lakes capacity. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan,whose official bungalow overlooks the 11th century lake,led the Shramdaan along with wife Sadhna Singh. He promised additional water supply from the Narmada by September. The campaign will go on till June 30 with voluntary organisations taking part in it. On Sunday,students,bankers and industrialists were among those who turned up at the campaign.
The Government had issued an appeal asking people,including bird watchers who frequent the lake,to contribute towards the campaign. With the monsoon nearly six months away,the administration has already started rationing water supply to the lake.
Lake Princess,a large cruise boat that ferried hundreds around the lake,has been shifted to a reservoir because of the extremely low water level. Over the years,encroachment on the lakes catchment areas has worsened the problem.
Social activist Abdul Jabbar said crores of rupees meant for the lakes conservation have been siphoned off. He alleged that the Bhopal Municipal Corporation had made exaggerated claims in the past like carting away silt in hundreds of trucks when the actual number was much less.