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Life’ll breathe easy at lake

- Desilting pits, water aeration planned for Jayanti Sarovar

Jamshedpur’s Jayanti Sarovar — the 10-acre lake that acts like a thermoregulator for the steel city — will witness a big makeover to prevent fish mortality.

Tata Steel subsidiary Jusco, which maintains the lake inside the picturesque Jubilee Park, revealed its desilting and water aeration plans to East Singhbhum deputy commissioner Amitabh Kaushal during an inspection on Monday evening.

A directive of Jharkhand High Court, which heard a suo motu PIL on the May 5 fish deaths three days later and sought a report from the district administration by May 15, is believed to have prompted the inspection.

On April 23, The Telegraph, in its report Not all green’s good, discovers showpiece lake, had indicated threat to fish because of the dense algae cover and shrinking water level. On May 2, Nor’wester rain caused polluted groundwater to flow into the lake through inlets and worsened the situation. On May 5, Jusco workers removed 200 dead fish from the water body.

Deputy commissioner Kaushal on Tuesday said Jusco managing director Ashish Mathur had assured them that corrective steps were on the cards. The elaborate makeover plan, he said, includes desilting of some portions of the 10-acre lake, which has witnessed shrinking of water level owing to accumulation of silt, gravel and garbage. The shallow areas, which once used to be 4-5ft deep, are now only 2ft deep. Flanks of the lake, barely a foot deep, expose fish to birds of prey such as egret, black drongo and kite.

The Jusco parks and gardens unit has been asked to clear dense growth of algae and aquatic plants on the eastern fringe of the lake. Weeds and algae sap water of dissolved oxygen at night, leaving little for the fish to breathe in. Fish can’t breathe if oxygen in water is lower than 4ppm (parts per million). They suffocate and die.

Plans are also afoot to increase the number of fountains from the existing four to six for better water aeration, which means increasing the saturation of oxygen in water. “Fountains aerate by pulling water from the surface and propelling it into the air through a rotating impeller. The impeller pumps water from the surface and expels it into the air. This process uses air-water contact to transfer oxygen,” said a Jusco official.

The civic utility firm has decided to construct desilting pits near all the inlets to prevent influx of toxic water and sewage into the lake. It is believed that industrial toxins, driven by Nor’wester rain, contaminated the lake through two inlets near the Old Court and Tata zoo ends.

Jusco, in association with Jamshedpur Angling Club will also spray Toximar, a medicine that neutralises pollutants in water, regularly at the lake.

“We have started the cleaning process and desilting work in selected patches, which will be completed before monsoon. The desilting pits will be constructed and new fountains will be installed soon,” confirmed Jusco managing director Mathur.

He, however, refused to spell out the money behind the makeover exercises. “We are not concerned about finances. We are determined to improve aquatic life in the lake, which is a landmark and is special to city residents,” Mathur added.