It is a crying shame that the University of Mysore which has access to the science of harmful impact of desilting is bent upon carrying out the process at Kukkerahalli Lake despite protests by the environmentalists.
It is difficult to find any expert who would support desilting given the limited technical ability to desilt without harming the lake. Authorities have not shown any study to show how desilting will help the lake.
Those who believe in the positive effect of desilting may be influenced by the need to delist dams or river bed to store more water. But a lake bed is entirely different. In the former, there is continuous flow of water. But it is not the case with Kukkerahalli Lake. One cannot remember when there was overflow there. It is true there are some lakes where desilting (in 2013, Beed district of Maharashtra succeeded in improving water supply when dried up lakes were desilted) has been beneficial. As shown here, Kukkerahalli does not meet any of the criterions for desilting suggested by the experts.
Pushkar Lake in Rajasthan is often quoted by experts to convince those who believe in desilting. It went dry in 2009. Several hydrologists had recommended against the desilting. But the government did not heed to their advice the same way authorities are ignoring the advice of the experts in Mysuru. Rs. 65 crore spent to save Pushkar Lake went down the drains!
Percolation of water body
Desilting leads to percolation of water body if it is not done properly. Also, when there has not been any overflow of the lake, what is the need for desilting? What is needed is clearing water channels feeding water into Kukkerahalli Lake. MGP and other NGOs have been fighting for such a project for years. Unfortunately instead of implementing the urgently needed project, authorities are carrying out a project which is sure to dry up the lake.
Latest argument of the authorities is that they will desilt only the dried part of the lake bed. What is the burning need to desilt it? When water flows into the lake during the rainy season and dry bed is under water, desilting will only increase the chances of percolation and hasten the chances of lake going dry. This has been seen time and again in most cases of similar desilting. If there is enough expertise only to remove silt accumulated without scrapping the layer of the lake bed which stops any percolation, and also there is absolute need, then one can justify desilting. In the case of Kukkerahalli Lake, it is not the case. Just because funds have been sanctioned and may be taken away, should not be a rationale for spending money.
In a democracy, projects like this (implemented by government authorities or elected leaders) may be stopped when masses show their opposition in large numbers. Mysureans have taken interest and joined NGOs like MGP in large numbers to save People’s Park ( otherwise library would have been built a long time back) and Chamundi Hill (MGP’s PIL is making its way through the High Court). The same enthusiasm needs to be demonstrated by Mysureans if we want to save Kukkerahalli Lake especially when science to oppose desilting is unquestionable.
By Bhamy V Shenoy