People of North India, specifically Delhi, craving for clean air, are not expected to get relief. Meanwhile, instead of getting the environmental laws strictly followed, the central government lifted the cess of Rs 400 per tonne on coal earlier this year. Whereas, India’s first report on climate change, recently released by the government, talks about the horrors of the future.
The situation is such that, the people of the plains who used to visit scenic places after getting bored of urban life are now in danger. Uttarakhand was one such place. Two decades ago, when Uttarakhand became a separate state after prolonged agitation, it was hoped that now there would be better conservation of the inherited natural resources. But it is a sad reality that the situation has worsened.
Glaciers are melting, many animals and flora are disappearing. Recently, the state flower of Uttarakhand, ‘Brahmakamal‘ also came in danger of its existence. This deepening crisis of climate change has also affected Bhimtal, Uttarakhand’s famous tourist destination. Bhimtal’s constant pressure of population, illegal mining and most of all, climate change has created a crisis on Bhimtal’s existence. That is why, in this story, I will try to talk about various dimensions of Bhimtal instead of talking about many places affected by climate change in Uttarakhand.
The existence of Bhimtal lake located in the Nainital district of the Kumaon division of Uttarakhand is under serious threat.
The aquatic biodiversity of this lake has been badly affected due to increasing human activities. Since the year 2000, when Uttarakhand was given the status of a separate state, a large number of hotels and resorts have opened in the name of tourism development.
At the age of 6-7 years, visiting here for summer vacation, finding a hotel for many kilometres was a challenging task. But now, the scene is completely the opposite.
Farmland is constantly getting depleted, and the mining mafia is causing rapid erosion of land. Due to this, a considerable amount of silt is going into the lake. Some island-sort-of structures have emerged due to decreasing water levels in many places. Apart from this, the dirty water of hotels-resorts is continuously going into it.
In the last 20 years, the order of rainfall in Bhimtal and its surrounding areas has become unbalanced. The environment of the Bhimtal lake and its surrounding area used to be relaxed 20 years ago and for those who enjoy nature, and Nainital
Bhimtal lake was the main centre of attraction. But now this attraction is lacking.
A decrease in the amount of oxygen in the water has also been observed in this area. Due to which the number of fishes like Taur and schizothorax has steadily decreased; as evident in the research here.
The water here is used for drinking from the surrounding countryside to Haldwani and Kathgodam. Apart from this, there was a specific order of rain 15 years ago, but this balance has been disturbed by climate change. Now, it rains heavily in monsoons; from 4 days to one week, and then disappears for 15 to 20 days. Sometimes it rains heavily, due to this, natural disasters like cloudburst also occur.
The Bhimtal dam is also an essential part of this debate. The Bhimtal dam built-in 1882 is now old. The dam is under pressure due to silt and in the lake, which could be a severe threat to the future. The leakage on many paths of the lake has raised the possibility of danger at the dam. Apart from this, cracks lying in many places and new directions of water have raised the concern of the experts and the local people.
Earlier this year, when the matter was discussed in the session of Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly, the Uttarakhand government flatly rejected it. During that time, Satpal Maharaj, the irrigation minister in the Uttarakhand government, commented that there is no threat to the people living in the area affected by the dam.
While the scientists of Kumaun University had explicitly spoken about this, many media reports quoting scientists are available. Amid these facts of the ever-increasing climate crisis, when the attitude of the government is not favourable, we need to continually raise questions on issues like Bhimtal as civil society in order to hope for a better future.