Dying and Drying Lake of Nainital | A Case Study
By Nitin Chandola
Naini Lake has been witnessing the effect of global warming from past ten years in the 21st century. A drastic commutation of tourist in Nainital region has led the lake to a state of misery. The fall in water level of the lake to 4 meters in Mallital become the matter of concern in 2017’s summer. The water which used to touch Naina Devi temple’s lower foundations till 2012 has now left its own territory and is shrinking to its utmost depth. Naini Lake is the only freshwater lake in entire Kumaon formed by tectonic behaviors on the Earth surface. Surrounded by the scenic inner Himalayan ranges, Moreover Naini Lake is the only hope for the natives as the source of drinking water.
The extensive survey of lake’s present condition is considerably degraded. Increased use of plastic in the nearby region of the lake has caused choking of lake’s aquatic life. Lack of proper solid disposal management in both Mallital and Tallital has led to a formation of open dump yards in outskirts of the town. These dump yards often faces the methodology of burning for disposing of the wastage. Swacha Bharat Abhiyan has still no impression on this town as far as the establishment of segregated underground dustbins is concerned. Some concerns are also related to lack of civic sense of the tourists who visit the town for their recreational purposes.
Lack of strictness by the government in maintaining the cleanliness of the city is also the main cause of the degrading water level of the Naini Lake. Use of Styrofoam utensils and disposable glass in Nainital has caused a severe impact on the lifestyle of Nainital. From small to big hotels in the region are using the Styrofoam and polythene bags which are nondegradable and hence are burnt in the outskirts of the city. With increasing traffic and orthodox methodology of waste disposal, the local average temperature of Nainital has increased up to five degrees.
Another perspective to this decrease in water level in Naini Lake is the sewage waste disposal system. During our team’s visit, a sewage filtration system was established by Payjal Nigam in cooperation with IIT Delhi. With aeration system equipped by KMVN for preventing the eutrophication of lakes. The requirement of aeration system rose when the algae formation in water of Naini Lake was observed by several scientists. The conclusion of many research conducted by scientists was against the sewage dumping. After such an extensive scholarly research, discharge of sewage in Naini Lake is still on-site progress. Our team found five openings in all over the lake which is abusing the aura of this beautiful town. Since 2014, after the initiation of Swacha Bharat Abhiyan in India, not a single underground dustbin is established in this region.
Lastly, when the major efforts were executed to save Naini Lake, it was in 2012 that’s when aeration of the lake was started. The increase in local average temperature and greenhouse effect on water surface has led to the disastrous evaporation of lake’s water. Marches for social awareness were held to save Naini Lake’s water level. People are still in hope of seasonal monsoon to recharge the water level of the lake. Floating plastic bags and solid non-degradable waste in Nainital’s lake is the dark reality of this region. A well-educated tourist also shows uncivil behavior in this kind of tourist spots. Not considering Nainital seriously in Swacha Bharat Abhiyan can pay the humans of their deeds. There is a possibility that the town will suffer from severe water crises in upcoming decades.
With un-regularized tourist input in such a constrained area is also a problem of concern, the congestion caused by a large number of private transport in Mall road is also the reason of the high-carbon footprint in the region. To earn a considerable revenue, Uttarakhand may be purely dependent on tourism but, to neglect the futuristic approach while planning the tourist season every year, can cost us a loss of such flora and fauna of the region. Global warming is no hidden factor of degradation of natural resources and excessive carbon footprints led to cancerous symptoms in the region. Hence, monitoring and regulating of traffic in the main town can decrease not only the carbon footprint but also local average temperature too.
Unless the municipal committees of Nainital take effective action over disposal of solid and liquid waste, there is a major possibility that the lake will shrink to its utmost depth gradually. According to papers released by the Pantnagar University of Agriculture, Segregated waste management and the strict ban on the use of polymeric bags can lead to a healthy environment in the town. Besides this recommendation, the quarrying of lake’s soil in Thandi Road of Tallital region was in progress in the month of July to let the water of Naini lake increase its volume and regain its area. This step is not only a sign of low quotient of knowledge in our government but also an alert about the mining mafias in the region.
Though localities stood in early 2017, for cleanliness of the town and the lake, there is a requirement of a mass movement to aware the tourists and vendors from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, and Haryana. The excessive use of non-degradable polymers can lead to choking of Swachha Bharat Abhiyan but also the daily need of the Nainital’s residents.