Andhra Pradesh

Drought casts long shadow over Pulicat

The Pulicat lake bed has got highly silted up in some places, causing unevenness.— PHOTO: K. RAVIKUMAR

The Pulicat lake bed has got highly silted up in some places, causing unevenness.— PHOTO: K. RAVIKUMAR  

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Winged visitors practically take flight. If there is favourable water level, the birds even come on to the road, sometimes after catching fish and worms.

Unlike in the past, the northern parts of the otherwise plentiful Pulicat lake have turned into a desert this season even as the beauty of countless migratory and local birds forming a carpet on the water searching for food is glaringly missing.

For bird enthusiasts, the past few weeks have been totally unsatisfactory, what with birds not being visible from the stretch of road that runs through Pulicat for nearly 5 km, connecting the Sullurupeta lake town and the Sriharikota Range (SHAR) space centre.

There is hardly any water near the SHAR road this year. Birds usually throng these places in larger numbers considering the low level of water between 1 ft and 1.5 ft spreading over hundreds of square kilometers. If there is favourable water level, the birds even come on to the road, sometimes after catching fish and worms.

“The same area in Pulicat was filled with nearly 3 feet water as against a maximum expected level of 1.5 ft. This was during the December floods. It was thought to be a problem of plenty at that time. But, things changed suddenly,” said B. Chandrasekhar, Divisional Forest Officer, Sullurupeta.

Speaking to The Hindu , Mr. Chandrasekhar said the flash floods in local rivulets eventually resulted in an unforeseen phenomenon in the brackish lake. Though the inflows into the lake were heavy from the surrounding rivulets during the floods, water quickly receded into the sea in just around 20 days.

There was the problem of the lake bed getting highly silted up in some places causing unevenness, because of which there would have been changes in the depths of water spread.

Meanwhile, bird life is concentrated heavily in the northern parts of Pulicat that lie in the Nellore district side. The reason for this is obviously even low water level of 1.5 ft for the birds to leisurely wade through to catch their food.

As the lake spreads southwards, Venadu and Irukam islands emerge surrounded by deep waters of 5 to 6 ft. But, in the far southern parts of Pulicat that lie in Tamil Nadu, the depths of water reach up to 10 ft. Mr. Chandrasekhar said that the low tide and untimely rains might have also caused changes in water level in the Pulicat. The silt from rivulets like the Swarnamukhi might have been carried from hinterland into the lake in a big way. On concerns raised by environmentalists about the need for widening sea mouths into Pulicat, Mr. Chandrasekhar said for a true understanding of the problem, bathymetric survey was required. “It will reveal the real causes of changes in underwater depths of the lake and their status as well,” he added.

This year, the wildlife division officials spotted 7,500 flamingos in Pulicat, and they have been mostly confined to interior parts of the lake or else scattered in interior water bodies. Similar is the case with the nearly 1,300 pelicans that are on a visit to the lake this season.

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 3:33:21 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/drought-casts-long-shadow-over-pulicat/article8190466.ece

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