Experts concerned over dipping water level of Rabindra Sarobar in Kolkata

Kolkata, May 22 (PTI) The water level of Rabindra Sarobar in south Kolkata’s Dhakuria area has gone down drastically in the past several months raising concern among enviornmentalists and regular visitors.
    Pointing out that dredging should be undertaken immediately at Rabindra Sarobar, labelled as a national lake, environmentalist and spokesperson of anti-pollution 'Save Rabindra Sarobar' campaign (launched to stop religious festivals in the water body five years back), S M Ghosh told PTI Sunday that the water level has declined to six feet (1.82 metre) at some spots in the middle of the lake .
    "Even 60 years back people from Gobindapur slum, adjacent to the lake, used to come here to wash utensils, and children had a good time splashing water. The structure of the old ghat which had submerged has resurfaced. The water level of the lake has depleted by more than half in past years which has resulted in the drop in groundwater level," Ghosh said.
    The Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority (KMDA), custodian of the water body, undertakes dredging of the lake.
    A KMDA official said visitors and staff have reported that 'char' (surface land) has come up in two parts of the lake near its boundary, and water level has come down to some extent in the middle of the lake.
    “This is unprecedented in the lake's history in recent years. We are aware of the development and an emergency meeting has been called to take stock of the situation."
    "Lack of adequate rain in past one year might have triggered the crisis but we have to think of alternatives to restore the lake to its earlier state,” the official said.
    Asked about the remedial measures, he said the KMDA is mulling over a proposal to temporarily plug outlet channels which carry the flow of water from the water body to outside.
    The lake will soon be mapped by experts, the official said.
    Another KMDA official said the water body has a depth of about 20 feet in the middle.
    Geo Scientist Sujib Kar said "Previously Rabindra Sarobar was linked with river Ganga. But after a devastating storm in 1737, the lake was detached from the river and the flow from the Adi-Ganga was choked.”
    The lake is still linked with Adi-Ganga through a sub-surface water-bearing strata, extending from 16 mt. to 46 mt, as a result of which the discharge of water in the form of sub-surface flow towards Adi-Ganga canal is causing a drop in the water level of the lake, he explained.
    Rabindra Sarobar is a 90-acre water body surrounded by around 100 acre of surface area rich in flora and fauna.
    “Protection of the water body is urgent and if we are unable to protect the lake, then vast areas between Golpark and Tollygunje in southern parts of the city might be affected,” Kar said.
    Rampant withdrawal of ground water in various parts of Kolkata and restricted recharge of ground water due to dwindling number of water bodies is causing strain on Rabindra Sarobar which acts as the feeder of ground water of a vast area and this is triggering seasonal fluctuations of water level in the lake, Kar said.
    Claiming that no mapping of the water body had taken place in the last five decades, Ghosh said this should have been carried out every five years.

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)