|Algae and garbage float on Beldih lake, a stamping ground of anglers (above) in Jamshedpur, on Tuesday. (Bhola Prasad)
The Beldih Lake — once a picturesque landmark of steel city Jamshedpur and favourite haunt of anglers — is choking on algae and dead fish.
The decades-old water body, spread over three acres, is maintained by Jusco, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Steel. But residents and members of Jamshedpur Angling Club, established in 1947, claim that they have never seen a purge mission in the past 10 years.
A responsible citizen alerted The Telegraph about the sorry plight of the lake, prompting a visit on Tuesday afternoon. The water body, which keeps the elite Beldih Golf Course green and happening, was found to be a reeking grave.
“There is no need to ask us what is wrong. Stay here for sometime and you will know,” a keen angler told this correspondent. “The lake is choking on scum and garbage. I have been visiting the place for a decade and never remember the water body being cleaned,” he added.
A source, associated with the upkeep of this city landmark, conceded that the water tank of the Beldih Lake had not been dried or cleaned for the past 35 years.
“There is a standard norm for water bodies to be cleaned after every eight years. But this has not been the case with Beldih Lake. As a result, the depth of the tank has shrunk to one-fourth along its sides and in the middle,” he added.
To compound woes, pumping water from the lake to the golf course has also led the level to drop by 5ft.
“People throw plastic bags containing garbage into the water. These sink to the bottom, rot and contaminate the water,” said Mohammed Islam, a resident of Dhatkidih, who owns a garage nearby.
K.K. Sharma, representative of Ornithological Society of India (Bihar-Jharkhand), confirmed that fish were dying in the lake.
“Accumulation of solid waste in stagnant water bodies cause rapid changes in the level of water nutrients,” Sharma, who is also the head of zoology department at Jamshedpur Cooperative College, explained to The Telegraph.
Sharma said algae had short life span and after they die they use up oxygen present in the water to decompose. “The tolerance level of fish differs with species. But usually, fish die when the oxygen in water is less than 4PPM (parts per million),” he added.
Sharma feels insecticides used at Beldih Golf Course also contaminate lake water and lead to “eutrophication”.
“Fish death because of eutrophication — an ecosystem’s adverse response to addition of artificial substances — usually occurs at night when their demand for oxygen increases,” he explained.
Jusco spokesperson Rajesh Rajan expressed ignorance about the lake turning into a poisonous grave for aquatic life. But he promised to look into the matter.
How can Beldih lake be restored to its past glory?