increasing silt load and spreading nets of prawn culturists are slowly throttling Chilka, Asia's biggest salt water lake spread over 1,100-sq-km. It is estimated that rivers and rivulets such as Nuna, Kusumi and Salia carry about 13 million tonnes of silt into the lake alongwith fresh water every year.
The consequent fall in the lake's salinity level has led to the disappearance of many species of fish and other marine creatures. At present, only 69 species of fish can be spotted in the lake as against 126 species found in the lake by the Zoological Survey of India in 1920.
The increasing silt load has also threatened the lake's core island of Nalabana that is home to thousands of migratory birds during the winter. Nalabana has been declared as a bird sanctuary by the government.