Fani’s fury creates four new mouths in Odisha’s Chilika Lake

Officials said Chilika Lake’s salinity had gone up.K.R.DEEPAK  

The extremely severe cyclone Fani has created four new mouths in Chilika Lake, Asia’s largest brackish water lake, connecting to the Bay of Bengal, officials said.

Chilika Development Authority (CDA) officials have started studying the impact of saline ingression into the lake.

“Chilika lagoon had only two active mouths — the point where it meets the sea before Fani hit the Odisha coast on May 3. Four new mouths have opened due to wave energy with high tidal prism,” said Susanta Nanda, Chief Executive, CDA.

Salinity surge

While three new mouths have come up between the two functional mouths near Sanpatna and Arakhakuda, a smaller mouth has been noticed on the northern side.

“In the meantime, a lot of sea water is entering Chilika Lake. We are now monitoring its salinity level at different stations. If sea water ingression goes up, fish migration will increase and the biodiversity will get richer. But its long term impact is something we will have to keep a watch on,” said Mr. Nanda.

When asked if the rise in salinity would alter Chilika’s ecosystem, he said: “Three of the four sectors are more or less marine ecosystems. The rise in salinity will lead to increase in productivity. Chilika Lake is a mixture of saline and fresh water. We will keep observing and consulting with experts.” The three new mouths may ultimately merge with the two functional mouths, Mr. Nanda added.