Sambhar Lake needs faster restoration, says expert study

Source: This post is based on the article “Sambhar Lake needs faster restoration, says expert study” published in The Hindu on 27th August 2021.

What is the News?

According to an expert study, Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan is constantly shrinking with degradation of soil and water quality.

About Sambhar Lake:
  • Sambhar Lake is India’s largest inland saline water body, located near Jaipur in Rajasthan.
  • The lake is surrounded on all sides by the Aravali hills. The lake is spread across Jaipur and Nagaur districts and also a part of Ajmer district in Rajasthan.
  • The lake receives water from six rivers: Mantha, Rupangarh, Khari, Khandela, Medtha and Samod.
  • Ramsar Site: The lake was also designated as a Ramsar site in 1990.
  • Salt Production: The lake produces 196,000 tonnes of clean salt every year, which is around 9% of India’s salt production.
  • Migratory Birds: The lake attracts thousands of migratory birds every year.
    • In 2019, the death of more than 20,000 birds belonging to about 10 species that migrate annually to the lake had made international headlines. Later, it was found that the birds had died due to avian botulism.
Study on Sambhar Lake:
  1. Loss of Sambhar Lake Area: Almost 30% of Sambhar Lake’s area had been lost to mining and other activities, including the illegal salt pan encroachments
  2. Loss of Livelihoods of Local People: The loss of the area has also threatened the livelihoods of local people, who have always lived in harmony with the lake and its ecology.
  3. Reduction in Wetland: There has been a reduction of wetland from 30.7% to 3.4% at a constant rate with its conversion into saline soil, which increased by 9.3%.

What needs to be done?

  1. Urgent action is needed to restore the lake’s ecosystem for protecting the birds and biodiversity as well as the salt production.
  2. The study has recommended that Sambhar Lake Development Authority should be formed by taking experts from multiple agencies. 
  3. Further, a coordination committee should also be developed among the administration of three districts – Jaipur, Ajmer and Nagaur. 
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