'Restoration of Nainital's Sukhatal Lake in Concretised Manner a Concern for Us'

The redevelopment of Sukhatal Lake into a tourist spot divides locals. They feel the ecology needs to be protected.

My Report
3 min read

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Purnendu Pritam

Nainital administration is planning to redevelop Sukhatal – a catchment area barely half-a-kilometre from Naini Lake which serves as its main recharge zone. Even though environmentalists and locals are in favour of the restoration of the Sukhatal Lake, they want it to be done in a natural way. As a resident of Nainital, it concerns me too.

As per an IIT Roorkee study, this lake – the recharge zone, absorbs water during monsoons and then this water recharges Naini lake during the dry season. Any concretisation in the name of rejuvenation would affect the Naini lake adversely which harm the environment, ecology, and the habitat of the himalayan region.

The redevelopment of Sukhatal Lake into a tourist spot divides locals. They feel the ecology needs to be protected.

Construction at the Sukhatal Lake in full swing

Photo Credit: Noman Siddiqui

Centre for Ecology Development and Research (CEDAR) warns of the adverse effects of restoration in an inorganic manner.

"If you look at the construction that's happening here, it is more or less, very hard in nature. What we are proposing here is soft landscaping and what you see here, if you look at the material, these are all construction debris. And when construction debris and water mixes, it creates an impervious layer and this impervious layer doesn’t allow water to seep in. This is a natural phenomenon. It’s a natural depression in the Himalayan region and it has a very high infiltration rate. If any tampering to the lakebed is done, it will be a monumental mistake. "
Dr Vishal Singh, Executive Director, CEDAR

Nainital, after the ease in COVID lockdown curbs, has witnessed an increase in the number of tourists from its regular tourism before COVID. Water supply, traffic management and uncontrollable crowds have added to the woes of the hill town. Unplanned restoration could add to these adversities further.

A meeting among concerned citizens, environmentalists and authorities was held recently where it was proposed by the locals to keep the bed of the lake natural and not concrete.


Administration on Sukhatal Rejuvenation

In the meeting, Arvind Singh Hyanki, Commissioner of Kumaon Division, said that the rejuvenation of the Sukhatal Lake with shops and other amenities can help make it into a tourist spot.

The redevelopment of Sukhatal Lake into a tourist spot divides locals. They feel the ecology needs to be protected.

Proposed redevelopment plan of Sukhatal Lake

Graphical image accessed by The Quint

"We want a good (tour) package to be made for tourists and income-generating activities can also be done. And we need to take the responsibility of maintaining the lake in the future. "
Arvind Singh Hyanki, Commissioner, Kumaon Division

As a local, I appreciate the idea of generating income for the residents of the hill city, but we also need to understand the cost we may have to pay in the future for harming the environment.

Uttarakhand has witnessed man-made disasters in the past. Restoration of the Sukhatal Lake should be a well-thought process. Rushing up on projects in the Himalayan lake town would certainly generate revenues from tourists but creating showpieces for tourists should not affect the ecology & be dangerous in the long run.

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