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Explained: How Sukhatal is important for Nainital?

sukhatal beautification controversy

Taking suo moto cognizance of a PIL, the Uttarakhand High Court ordered the state government to immediately stop all construction works in the Sukhatal located in Nainital.

On the next hearing on 20th December, the court will hear arguments on the Sukhatal beautification project.

nainital famous lake
Naini Lake of Nainital, Uttarakhand—-

What is the Sukhatal dispute?

In fact, in December last year, the Uttarakhand High Court Chief Justice had taken suo motu cognizance of the letters written to him by citizens and activists on the issue of continuous encroachment in Sukhatal and had sought an answer from the government in this regard.

On the basis of a report prepared by IIT Roorkee, the government started the work of building a concrete wall around Sukhatal. Environmentalists said that this concrete bed would destroy the permeability of the lake and it would become an artificial lake from a natural lake.

Construction around Sukhatal
Construction around Sukhatal

The court’s amicus curiae advocate Kartikeya Hari Gupta told The Indian Express that he has told the court that ‘According to hydrological studies, the Sukhatal plays an important role in recharging Naini Lake and the state government is doing wrong by making a concrete bed on it. It is scientifically wrong to use any kind of impermeable material in this type of lake.

According to the study of IIT Roorkee, the government is doing construction in Sukhatal, which is wrong because IIT Roorkee does not have any expertise to do an environmental assessment, many questions arise on this report because they suggested building a concrete wall around it to stop debris but did not assess the encroachment and the damage caused to Naini Lake.

The government wants to increase tourism in Nainital by beautifying Sukhatal, on this the court said that Nainital does not need more tourists as this city is already overloaded.

What is Sukhatal and why there is opposition to its beautification?

naini lake and Sukhatal Map

In fact, Sukhatal is considered to be the feeder lake of Nainital’s famous Naini Lake. It recharges the Nani Lake up to 40-50%. Sukhatal is higher than Nani Lake, here the access water of the catchment is stored and the rest of the water reaches Nani Lake through drains. Due to this, the problem of drinking water of the people is also solved.

But in the last few years, its capacity has decreased due to illegal construction and the dumping of debris in this lake. After the year 2000, there were 10 such occasions when the water of Naini Lake reached its lowest level.

Naini Lake water level reached zero

Illegal encroachment will be removed from Sukhatal following the order of the High Court, which will help in reviving the lakes of Nainital.

However, instead of deepening the ponds and removing the debris, the Government of Uttarakhand is trying to concretize it, by this they want to divert attention from the main problem.

Nainital is known for its beautiful lakes. But in order to increase tourism, the government wants them to destroy the lakes. This means trying to cut the tree on which you are sitting.

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