Tribune News Service
Dharamsala, November 24
The Dal Lake of Dharamsala city has dried up. Residents of the Naddi area along with a large number of Tibetans gathered at the lake to save fish, which are on the verge of extinction.
Vikas Sharma, a resident of Naddi area, said, “It is strange that the lake has dried up just after the monsoons. The lake was filled to the brim by September end but it dried up suddenly. Local residents noticed fish perishing in the dried-up lake and decided to rescue them. The fish caught from the lake will be released in other water bodies and rivulets of the area”.
Naresh Kumar, another resident, said that the lake used to have water throughout the year. “However, a few years ago, Public Works Department (PWD) officials dug up the bed of the lake with JCB machines to deepen it and remove silt. Since then the lake has lost its capacity to retain water. It is sacred to local people and PWD officials should not have disturbed its bed,” he added.
The mid-altitude lake located at a distance of about 11 km from Dharamsala in Tota Rani village, near Naddi, though is very small as compared to its namesake lake in Srinagar (Kashmir), it is a natural water body that is vital for the eco system of surrounding hills.
This natural water body at a height of 1,775 metres from the sea level is surrounded by Deodar trees and is a tourist attraction. The locals consider it as sacred and there is a small Shiva temple located at its banks.
However, continuous silting from adjoining mountains has reduced the depth of the lake. About half of the lake area is filled with silt and converted into a grassland.
As per the revenue records, the area of the lake is about 1.22 hectares or 12,200 sq mts. However, due to silting, its area has reduced to half. The depth of the lake that was about 10 feet has also reduced. The local administration had in 2011 launched a massive operation with the help of locals, who contributed in the form of labour and machines, to resurrect the lake. Silt taken out was used to create a parking lot near the temple area. Since then the lake dries up rapidly.
Sources say that geologists are of the opinion that aqueducts created at the base of the lake due to unscientific digging is leading to draining of water. The Kangra district administration had called geological experts to study the reasons as to why the lake was losing water but till date no solution to the problem had been found.
A local festival is also organised at the lake in September. The local Gaddi community considers the lake as sacred and wants the government to protect it. Deputy Commissioner Nipun Jindal said that geological experts had been requested to propose solutions to the problem of the Dal Lake drying up.
Lost capacity to retain water after it was dug up
The lake used to have water throughout the year. However, a few years ago, PWD officials dug up the bed of the lake with JCB machines to deepen it and remove silt. Since then, the lake has lost its capacity to retain water. Naresh Kumar, area resident
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