A new government has taken charge of our state, a government which in it’s many rallies had constantly re-iterated that they seek votes in the name of development.
In the words of Modi Ji, our Prime Minister, at his rally in Srinagar, Pauri Garhwal, “उत्तराखंड में भारतीय जनता पार्टी की सरकार विकास के मुद्दे पर आपसे वोट मांग रही है” [In Uttarakhand, the Bhartiya Janta Party seeks your votes on the issue of development]
As a citizen of Uttarakhand, I am happy that for once we finally have a government which did not ask for votes based on our caste, creed or religion but on the promise of, “सबका साथ, सबका विकास” [Everyone’s support, Everyone’s development]. We’ve given you our support Modi Ji, we now await the growth.
At this point, I would like to mention that, personally, I am politically neutral. I am not pro someone or against someone, lest this post becomes an issue of political debate. Moreover, this article isn’t politically fuelled, as many would think, considering the above two paragraphs where I quote our Prime Minister.
The only thing I seek is development and I could not care less which political party “finally” does it for us. Coz “promises” during the election season is like the transient rains that occur during the Hot Summer months. They do bring us momentary relief from the scorching sun, but in an hour or so one wouldn’t even know that if it had rained or not.
I’d now like to redirect your gaze at “Nainital”, which is a small hill station in Uttarakhand. Let me share a picture of our town.
The mesmerising beauty that Nainital is
Doesn’t it look Beautiful? The Lake, the Boats, the Mountains and that Crimson Sky!
The economy of our town is predominantly based on Tourism, with lakhs of people flocking into town every year. In fact, majority of the rural Kumaon and Garhwal regions of Uttarakhand depend on Tourism as a means of livelihood. Tourism is our bread and butter.
Like every other constituency of Uttarakhand, we too voted for the incoming government but we did not seek the promises of “विकास” [development], which were re-iterated time and again. We were looking for something more banal, something more frugal. We were looking for SURVIVAL.
Welcome to, what we now call, “The Nainital Beach”
Welcome to The Nainital Beach, established April 2016
BUT, the Lake didn’t always look like that.. This is what it used to be like!
The water level that, not more than 2 years ago, reached these steps and at times was on the brink of overflowing was reduced to “this”, at the beginning of the Summer of 2016 (Pic taken on 14th April, 2016)
The water level was reduced to “this” by 14th April, 2016
This was a difficult and painful time for citizens of Nainital, when on our morning or evening walks round the Lake, we would look at the misery the Lake was in and ponder over,
“What did WE DO to deserve THIS?”
And although each and every individual knew the answer to it, no one was ready to admit that, in our attempts to build better futures for ourselves, the stress that we had put on our natural resources had led to this.
- The construction on the mountains surrounding the Lake.
- The sewage and household wastes that freely flow into the Lake.
- The silt and the soil erosion from the hill side during the rainy season due to chopping down of the trees.
April 2016, was just a small glimpse of what the Lake would look like without Water. May and June, the two hottest months, were still left. And as You may have guessed, Yes! Things worsened.
Things worsened, a month later, 16th May 2016
In May 2016, when the town administration decided to act on the matter it was too late. The water had already plummeted to new depths! Although the town administration claims to have removed around 10,000 trucks of silt from the Lake, as an onlooker, I’ve seen most of the silt accumulated by these hefty machines being deposited on the banks of the Lake and then GO BACK into the Lake again. “10,000 trucks of silt removed” is a claim which I do not think is warranted or could possibly be backed up, coz if that was the case we wouldn’t be “Back to Square One Today” in March 2017.
Yes! We are back to square one.. It’s 2016 all over again. Do we really want to be caught up in this endless cycle of Water or No Water?
Do we really want to get caught up in this cycle? (18th March, 2017)
“The Need of the Hour” is not to blame or point fingers at the administration or the government, but to come up with a proper researched plan that can address this issue. Probably, the use of the Dredging mechanism could help in the excavation of the silt. BUT, randomly placing JCB or CAT excavators to extract the silt which has accumulated mostly over the last three decades would not be the solution.
A well researched plan needs to be worked upon and implemented, Without FUNDS being misused.
It’s NOT JUST our government’s or administration’s duty, civilians just cannot pollute the Environment and think that others will clean it up for us. It is our civic duty too. As civilians, we need to make sure that wastes are disposed off in the correct manner. We shouldn’t dispose off the wastes openly or throw them into the open drains coz everything would eventually find it’s way into the Lake. As citizens of the town, we need to understand and carry out our civic duties too.
Be the Change that You wish to see in the World
If we do not act now, it wouldn’t be long that instead of the Lake we would just have a huge crater in the middle of the town. Or probably a gigantic swamp. Without the Lake, temperatures would soar, the climate would undergo drastic changes (already is), snowfall would be a distant dream, tourists would no longer visit and the economy of our town would disintegrate. Eventually, the essence of Nainital would fade away!
If not for the Environment, Save the Lake for your Own Livelihood.
If not for your Livelihood, Save the Lake for your Own Need.
If not for your Need, Save the Lake for your Own Greed.
Save the Lake for whichever reason finds you the most motivated.
Coz if we DON’T, we would only be left with huge mounds of silt all along the banks of the Lake, which would eventually engulf the left over water. Here are two samples, which I’ve captured, as I walk alongside the Lake to demonstrate the severity of the issue. Water is receding and we’ll be left with nothing if we do not ACT NOW!!!
I’d like to conclude by sharing a song that I wrote a few days back. Although, the song wasn’t originally meant for being embedded in an article about “The Dying Naini Lake” and is perhaps a bit off topic, I realized that it did depict (portray) Nainital in a really beautiful manner and highlighted the beauty of our town. Probably, when the Lake is gone, we would look back at this video and think, “What could have been, If we had cared”.
Author : Neelabh Pandey