Shrinking of Sambhar Lake: Rajasthan | 28 Aug 2021

Why in News

According to a recent study, Sambhar Salt Lake in Rajasthan is constantly shrinking with the degradation of soil and water quality and a decline in the population of migratory birds.

Key Points

  • Location:
    • 80 km south-west of Jaipur in east-central Rajasthan, it is the country’s largest inland saline water body.
    • Represents the depression of the Aravalli Range.
  • Famous For:
    • Production of brine/salt, houses one of the largest salt manufacturing units in the country.
    • Thousands of migratory birds every year.
  • Ramsar Site:
    • A wetland of ‘international importance’ under the Ramsar Convention, declared in 1990.
  • Rivers:
    • Receives water from six rivers, namely Samaod, Khari, Mantha, Khandela, Medtha, and Roopangarh.
  • Vegetation in Catchment Area:
    • Mostly xerophytic type (Xerophyte is a plant adapted for growth under dry conditions).
  • Fauna:
    • Flamingoes, pelicans and the waterfowls are commonly sighted.
  • Other Nearby Places:
    • Shakambari Devi temple, Sambhar Wildlife Sanctuary.
  • Major Concerns:
    • Loss of Area:
      • Almost 30% of the Sambhar Lake’s area had been lost to mining and other activities, including the illegal salt pan encroachments.
    • Livelihoods of Local People:
      • The loss in the area has also threatened the livelihoods of local people who have always lived in harmony with the lake and its ecology.
      • The Aravalli hills have decreased by 0.1% (as compared to in 1971). The hill has been a natural barrier limiting the salt from spreading into other fertile areas.
        • If this natural wall continues to fall it will force the people to migrate.
    • Regarding Migratory Birds:
      • The wetland has decreased whereas vegetation cover has increased, leading to the shortage of red algae which forms the main source of food for the migratory birds.
      • The death of more than 20,000 birds belonging to about 10 species which migrate annually to the lake due to avian botulism in 2019.
  • Steps to Address the Issue:
    • New Tourist Points:
      • The State Government of Rajasthan has recently decided to identify new tourist points at Sambhar Salt Lake.
      • New destinations around the lake, including a salt museum, caravan park, bicycle track and gardens, will be finalised.
    • Salt Train:
      • A “salt train”, which transported salt from the pans to a nearby refinery, will also be restarted.
    • Saving the Area:
      • The illegal salt production in the lake will be stopped through action against unauthorised borewells and pipelines laid in the region, while encroachments on the land will be removed with the help of police.
    • For Migratory Birds:

Way Forward

Sambhar Lake Development Authority should be formed by taking experts from multiple agencies. Also, coordination should be developed among the administration of three districts - Jaipur, Ajmer and Nagaur.

Source: TH