Aquatic plants and floating algae cover Jayanti Sarovar in Jamshedpur on Tuesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Neglected river Subernarekha and so-called pampered reservoir Jayanti Sarovar are now both looking similar in Jamshedpur.
Like Subernarekha, the city’s sprawling 20-acre aquatic landmark Jubilee Lake or Jayanti Sarovar is also donning an unhealthy cloak of green. But if water hyacinth is the river’s bane, algae and weeds are harming the lake.
Floating algae and weeds across some 40 per cent of the lake’s surface prove that Tata Steel subsidiary Jusco is neglecting the showpiece water body in the heart of Jubilee Park. Famed for its beauty and its angling — the lake has fish species like Indian carp (mrigal) catla (katla), rohu (rui), tilapia cichlid (telapiya), catfish and others — this dense overgrowth can sound the death knell for both.
Jusco cleaned the lake as recently as in March this year but obviously not well enough.
Algae and weeds have short lifespan but they use up dissolved oxygen in water, killing fish and other aquatic life. Fish struggle to breathe if oxygen in water gets less than 4PPM (parts per million).
According to East Singhbhum district fisheries official Arun Kumar, dense growth of weeds and water plants across over 25 per cent of the surface of a water body can seriously threaten aquatic life. “Restricted amounts of aquatic plants growing in ponds and lakes are beneficial for fish and aquatic life as they provide food, dissolved oxygen and spawning and nesting habitats for fish and waterfowl. But, dense growth depletes oxygen at night and kills fish,” said Kumar.
Weeds also restrict water flow, making it an ideal breeding ground for mosquitoes. Unless unchecked, the problem will only worsen.
K.K. Sharma, head of zoology department at Jamshedpur Cooperative College and representative of the Ornithological Society of India (Bihar-Jharkhand) said the picturesque lake needed drastic remedial measures. “So far, no fish death has been reported. But if things are allowed to go on the way they are, large numbers of fish will die,” said Sharma.
An alarmed Jamshedpur Angling Club, which coordinates angling activity at reservoirs in the city, has told the Tata Steel subsidiary about the threat to aquatic life due to rapidly growing plants at the lake.
“Beldih Lake (another favoured angling spot) was desilted last year. But most anglers use Jayanti Sarovar. As things stand now, fish deaths seem imminent in summer unless Jusco begins cleaning regularly and on a priority basis,” said veteran angler Nasim Khan.
Also, the combined onslaught of summer, silt and vegetation is draining the lake. Water at the shallow part of the lake, which used to be 4 feet deep, has now risen to some 2 feet. Its flanks are barely 1 foot deep.
When contacted, Jusco spokesperson Rajesh Rajan said: “We carried out cleaning activity earlier this year in March. After spot inspection, we will again undertake similar drives.”
Jamshedpur is waiting and watching.
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