Weeds and dry bed patches bear witness to the falling water level in landmark Sukhna lake in Chandigarh, as the man-made water body seems to be at the mercy of a harsh summer. As no rainfall has taken place in catchment areas, the level of water in the artificial lake has dropped to a worrisome figure of 1,152 feet (from the sea level) as against the required level of 1,163 feet, officials said. As far as depth of the lake is concerned, it has also shown worrying signs. Lake's depth has fallen to just 2-3 feet at some places, forcing the UT authorities to restrict boating, the main attraction for tourists, at some portions of the water body, they said. The lake's depth is 12-13 feet. Tourists who come to see the world famous Sukhna Lake are in for disappointment when they found patches of dry bed at several places and weeds on the surface of the water body. "We came here to see Sukhna Lake which is known as the best tourist spot in Chandigarh. But after coming here, we found that water level has dropped considerably. There are patches of dry bed and weeds on the surface level," rued Sukhdarshan Singh, a tourist from Ludhiana. Tourists come in hordes to enjoy paddle boating and 'Shikaras' which are the major attraction points at the Sukhna Lake.
Boating activity generates major chunk of revenue for the Chandigarh Industrial Tourism Development Corporation. "The silt coming from the catchment areas is a major problem for the man-made water body," said Panjab University Assistant Professor (Zoology) Y K Rawal. "Because of silt problem, the depth of the lake has gone down considerably," he said, while emphasising on the extraction of silt deposition at regular intervals to save the artificial lake from getting dried. Accumulation of silt and weeds are also posing threat to the fishes, he said adding that dissolved oxygen was getting reduced in the water. Lack of sufficient amount of rains has also raised concern about the Sukhna lake which attracts a large number of tourists from several parts of the country every day. "Sukhna Lake is a man-made water body which is entirely dependent upon rain for water. The evaporation of water in the summer season is also one of the reasons for drying up of the lake," Rawal said. Notably, filling the lake by drawing water through tube wells has also not worked much. The National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, which had conducted a study on Sukhna lake had found seepage of water as main problem. "We had found in our study that even if we get more water, the lake could not retain it. There is seepage in the lake which needed to be controlled," said S D Khobragade, scientist at National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee. Khobragade had conducted two-year long study for a period starting from 2011. Sukhna Lake, which is national wetland, is a man-made reservoir at the foothills of Shivalik hills. The serene water-body was created in 1958. The lake is also the habitat of a number of fishes and migratory birds.
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