Water in the famous Naini Lake – the lifeline of the town and a tourist attraction – has dropped to one foot below the zero level mark by the end of February.
Locals are worried about the 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 resort manifold.
Still more importantly the lake water 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, the year 2017 has brought forward a worrisome state of the water level of this lake.
While in yesteryears water in the lake was in the range of 5 to 7 feet above the minimal mark, this year the same has dropped to one foot below the zero level mark by the end of February, according to environmentalists.
The winter months upto March from December witness a good amount of rain and snowfall. This helps maintain a reasonable water level after the monsoon is over.This year despite a moderate winter precipitation the lake water level has dropped to its lowest ever during this period of the year.
Ritesh Shah, environment activist and 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 a sinking level of the Nainital Lake.
“However, 2017 seems much more alarming as the area experienced normal level of rains and some snowfall during the winters.Yet the levels of the lake water are constantly decreasing and are at an all time low,” he said.
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 summer are already pointing towards the future of the lake and its surroundings, according to environmentalists.
Ajay Rawat, an environmentalist says, to measure the water level of the Lake, the British while building the four exit gates for excess water, also set up a scale on these doors to mark the level of lake.
Known as the Daanth, these exit doors are marked with zero at the lowest point to which the lake dries up during the summers.
“While during the months of January and February the water level has always remained at least five feet above the mark, this year the level is threateningly below zero,” he said.
Presently water level is visibly receding on a daily basis.
The Naini Lake depends on natural underground water.Then why is is it that even the rains could not replenish the lake? This question poses a great challenge to the ecosystem and future of Nainital.
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(With inputs from PTI)