Chandigarh, November 26
The vegetative and engineering methods adopted by the Chandigarh administration’s forest department to bring Sukhna lake back to life appear to have paid rich dividends.

According to UT forest-cum-finance secretary, these measures had succeeded in meeting the challenges posed by the rampaging silt in the lake. He added they had also helped conserve soil and moisture in the 26 sq km hilly catchment area known as the Sukhna wild sanctuary, besides throwing up a good forest cover that has begun to invite and attract fauna and wildlife.

Until recently, the danger of the lake drying up looked for real. It had been rapidly swallowing sediments, constricting its storage capacity from 8,710 acre-feet in 1958 to about 2,600 acre-feet at present.

“In order to put a stop to the silt menace and save the lake, the forest department has constructed 190 silt retention dams, supplemented by over 200 check dams, spurs, revetments and brushwood structures, to conserve soil and retain the silt in the water bodies created behind the silt retention dams”, said Kumar.

Thanks to the steps taken by the department over the years, UT conservator of forests Ishwar Singh said the rate of siltation of the lake had reduced drastically from 156 metric tons per hectare per year to five metric tons per hectare per year.

Up to 1988 66 per cent of the original water holding capacity of the lake had been lost due to siltation. “In 2003-04, the depth of the lake decreased by one inch to 1.5 inches as compared to more than three inches in the preceding years,” said Singh.

“Water bodies created in the area have helped in regeneration of forests and proliferation of wildlife. Consequent to the soil and moisture conservation and forest activities, the area has become an abode of numerous varieties of wildlife. So much so, the big cat (leopard) has become a visiting guest to the sanctuary”, Singh added.

Besides those in the catchment area of the Sukhna lake, the forest department has constructed three water bodies in Patiala Ki Rao forest, four in the botanical garden, two in Sukhna ‘choe’ reserve forest, two in the lake reserve forest behind the lake and one in the IT park forest to provide drinking water to animals and birds in their habitats and to help retain the underground water level, Singh stated.

Source: Tribune News Service