Pune: Katraj Lake Suffers Historic Low as Water Shortages Grip Region

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Pune, 16th April 2024: The intense heat this year has exacerbated the water crisis in the region, leading to serious water shortages and drying up of dams and lakes. Among the affected bodies of water is the Katraj Lake, located in the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park. It is the second lake in the chain of Shrimant Nanasaheb Peshwa Lake and is now more than half empty.

The presence of Katraj Lake plays a crucial role in preserving the biodiversity of the surrounding area. In 2019, the lake experienced heavy rainfall, causing it to overflow and flood the Ambil Stream. This led to the accumulation of significant amounts of silt and sediment in the lake.

To address the water quality and level concerns, the Pune Municipal Corporation’s (PMC) Drainage Department is installing a water purification project at the lake, which is in its final stages. Additionally, the water level in the lake has been lowered through siphoning to facilitate the removal of silt.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has approved funds for silt removal and further work on the lake. Once these funds are disbursed, the PMC plans to deepen the lake further and carry out comprehensive silt removal. Last year, the PMC had already conducted water leaf and silt removal work, demonstrating their ongoing commitment to maintaining the lake and its surrounding ecosystem.

The Katraj Lake, which spans 29 acres of the 130 acres of Katraj Zoo, is a critical water body that has historically played a significant role in supplying water to various parts of Pune. The lake, along with the main Katraj Lake situated above it, supplied water in a chain-like manner to Shaniwar Wada and other areas of old Pune through an underground water system. The water was channelled to different parts of the city, such as Kala Haud, Bahulicha Haud, Badami Haud, and Sadashiv Peth Haud. It is noted by historians that this water supply system was in operation until 1990.

Residents have expressed concern over the significant decrease in water levels in the lake, which they claim has never been this low before. They urge the PMC to take advantage of the current low water levels to remove the silt from the lake, which they believe will bring tangible benefits to the ecosystem and water quality.

Santosh Tandale, Superintending Engineer of the Drainage Department, stated that the water level in the lake is being reduced up to ten feet. Factors such as evaporation and the siphon process contribute to the reduction in water levels.