Bhimtal and Other Uttarakhand Lakes Are Drying Up

‘Bhimtal, Other Lakes Are Drying Up, Often Treated As Wastebin’

Bhimtal and Other Uttarakhand Lakes Are Drying Up

Puran Chandra Brijwasi, an environmentalist based in Uttarakhand, is distressed by the degenerating condition of water bodies, especially Bhimtal, in the hill state. His views

Indifference is turning our beloved Bhimtal Lake into a dry land. With the arrival of June, this season, the lake’s water levels have dropped so significantly that the once-glorious water body now resembles a large, barren field. The sight of garbage, plastic, and dirt scattered around is heartbreaking.

I am deeply distressed by the state of Bhimtal Lake. For years, I have been watching this natural treasure turn into a neglected, polluted field. The lake that once brimmed with clear water is now littered with garbage, plastic, and dirt. The water level has drastically dropped, and what used to be the lake’s edge is now a vast, barren field, especially visible at the Mallital end.

It breaks my heart to see this degradation. The last time the lake was cleaned was back in 1998, and since then, it has been a waiting game, hoping for intervention. The matter of cleaning Bhimtal Lake has been pending for almost three decades. Local residents and tourism businesses are deeply concerned about the lack of cleaning, the visible delta, the field, and the decreasing water levels in the lake. Due to low rainfall, since January this year, the lake’s Mallital end has slowly started turning into a delta field, which by June has transformed into a large field. The lake’s water quality is deteriorating rapidly due to the constant inflow of silt, dirt, and sewage. We need immediate action to prevent further pollution.

I have been tirelessly reaching out to the Nainital district administration, pleading for a comprehensive cleanup of Bhimtal Lake. The silt and mud accumulating every year are shrinking the lake and reducing its capacity to store water. This, combined with drying water sources, is a recipe for disaster.

A view of Bhimtal zone that is drying up

According to departmental surveys, the lake’s depth has decreased from 22 meters in 1985 to less than 17 meters now. A 2006 report even declared the water unfit for drinking. This is not just an environmental issue but a significant public health concern as well. Contaminated water poses risks to both residents and tourists, potentially leading to various waterborne diseases.

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Despite sending numerous memorandums to the Chief Development Officer, District Magistrate, Commissioner of Kumaon, Chief Secretary, departmental secretaries, MLAs, MPs, the Tourism Minister, the Chief Minister, and the Prime Minister, the lake still awaits cleaning. My appeals for intervention have yet to translate into concrete action, and the lake’s condition continues to worsen.

The drains, ‘Drain A and Drain B,’ from Khutani to the lake’s mouth, are filled with silt, sewage, and garbage. If not cleaned this summer, these drains will emit a foul odor and pose a severe threat to the lake’s ecosystem. I urge the district administration and the government to approve a budget for a thorough cleanup, including the removal of silt, material, and garbage. We must also revive the lake’s water sources and clean the drains to prevent future contamination.

Bhimtal Lake is not just a body of water; it’s a lifeline for our community and a significant tourist attraction. Its beauty and health are crucial for our environment and economy. A thriving lake can boost local tourism, bringing economic benefits to the region and promoting a healthier ecosystem. The flora and fauna dependent on this lake are also suffering, and the degradation of their habitat could lead to irreversible damage to local biodiversity.

I implore the authorities to take swift action to save Bhimtal Lake from this crisis and restore its natural splendor. This is not just about preserving a lake but about safeguarding a vital resource for future generations. Let us act now, with determination and urgency, to bring Bhimtal Lake back to its former glory, ensuring it remains a jewel of our community for years to come.

As told to Deepti Sharma

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