Man-made trouble in Bhimtal lake

Tourism and other human interventions in the Bhimtal area in Uttarakhand has led to drastic changes that have altered the way of life and land use in the region. Can this trend be reversed?
Bhimtal Lake (Source: Wkipedia) Bhimtal Lake (Source: Wkipedia)

The Himalayan region is facing an unprecedented onslaught of modernization. Large-scale construction, deforestation and pollution are taking a toll on it's pristine eciology. This includes the beautiful Bhimtal lake in Nainital district, Uttarakhand. A case study has been carried out to study this effect of human activities in the region of Bhimtal and 11 satellite villages, in an area of 21.57 sq km. The main water source for the study region is Bhimtal lake, which not only forms the major drainage reservoir, but is also the source of water for domestic and irrigation purposes.

In the township of Bhimtal, tourism & industrial areas have grown. This boon of tourism has led to drastic changes, both in the economy and the ecology of the lake region. More people are now engaged in travel, trade and hospitality activities, which have increased the demand for water. Even though cultivable land is fertile, arable land is being gobbled up by new buildings, hotels and houses. The land that is available is further subjected to the rish of erosion, limiting further cultivation.

The influx of tourists has added to the land scarcity, and improper waste disposal has aggravated lake pollution and sedimentation. Deforestation and slope cutting for construction has made the land more vulnerable to landslides. The aerial extent of Bhimtal lake has shrunk by more than 22% between 1940 and 1984 and its water quality has worsened. 

Areas surrounding the Bhimtal lake, initially covered by bamboo groves, has been replaced by Chir pines, and tropical trees are diminishing as well. As both the quality and quantity of forest land degrades, the deforested and fallow land is being engulfed by lantana, an irritant weed.

Bhimtal lake is the life sustaining substance for the town around it, and its water is a necessary fodder as well as a financial source. To conserve and ensure sustainability of the eco-system in the region various steps need to be ensured. 

  • Improve agricultural production through better innovations and techniques
  • Increase the area under plantation and afforestaion
  • Exploit efficient methods of fishery for better livelihood of locals
  • Encourage renewable resources for home appliances
  • Promote floriculture and reforestation 

This post presents a submission received for the Sustainable Mountain Development Summit-III held at Kohima, Nagaland, from September 25-27, 2013. Download the original submission below.

 

 

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