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Posted at: Mar 3, 2017, 1:03 AM; last updated: Mar 3, 2017, 1:03 AM (IST)

Drying Naini Lake poses threat to Nainital town

Shrinking water resource

  • The water level in the Naini lake has dropped to one foot below the zero level mark by the end of February.
  • In yesteryear, water in the lake had been in the range of 5 feet to 7 feet above the minimal mark.
  • The lake is the only source of water supply to the town, whether for drinking or other purposes.

Nainital, March 2

The water level in the famous Naini Lake, the lifeline of Nainital town and a tourist attraction, has dropped to one foot below the zero level mark by the end of February.

Locals are worried about its future and also about the very existence of the town keeping in view the alarmingly speed at which the water body is drying up.

The lake is the prime tourist attraction and enhances the beauty of this sleepy hill town manifold.

Still more importantly the lake is the only source of water supply to the town, be it for drinking or other purposes. Hence a good water level of the lake ensures a healthy supply through its resources.

However, in 2017, the lake is in a worrisome condition.

While in yesteryears water in the lake was in the range of 5 feet to 7 feet above the minimal mark, this year it has dropped to one foot below the zero level mark by February end, according to environmentalists.

The winter months up to March from December witness a good amount of rain and snowfall. This helps in maintaining a reasonable water level after the monsoon. This year, despite a moderate winter precipitation, the lake water level has dropped to its lowest ever.

Ritesh Shah, Associate Professor, Human Resource Department Centre, Kumaon University, says, “In the previous year, the El nino effect caused a climatic change leading to dry weather and eventually the Naini Lake level sank.

“However, 2017 seems much more alarming as the area has experienced normal rains and some snowfall during the winter. Yet the water level in the lake is constantly decreasing and is at an all time low,” he says.

A frightening picture has come up with the emergence of deltas in and around the area of the lake. These deltas, which were earlier visible only in the dry months of the summer, are already pointing towards the future of the lake and its surroundings, environmentalists say.

Ajay Rawat, an environmentalist, says, to measure the water level in the lake, the British while building the four exit gates for excess water, also set up a scale on these doors to mark the lake level.

Known as Daanth, these exit doors are marked with zero at the lowest point to which the lake dries up during the summer.

“While during January and February the water level has always remained at least five feet above the mark, the level is threateningly below zero this year,” he says.

The Naini Lake depends on natural underground water. Then why is it that even rains could not replenish the lake? This question poses a great challenge to the ecosystem and the future of Nainital. PTI

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