Making sport of Conservation

Published: Wednesday 30 November 1994

Sukhna lake The Asian Junior Rowing Championships at Chandigarh, held from November 24 to 27, took a cruel toll of trees. The organisers found that the heavy inflow of silt and seepage of water from the lake posed problems for rowing. Three draglines were requisitioned from the Punjab government's irrigation and drainage department to de-silt the lake and to work on the embankments of the rowing channel.

As the draglines were driven along the channel, several trees had to be chopped or clipped to make way for the heavy machinery. Trees along the embankments also got the axe for the same reason. Interestingly, when Maneka Gandhi was the Union minister of state for environment and forests, instructions were issued to the Chandigarh administration to ensure no rowing activity was allowed at the Sukhna lake, so that its ecological balance was not disturbed. The lake was also accorded the status of a wetland, bringing it under the wetland development programme of the Indian government. But for the present, the Chandigarh administration appears more interested in sports than environmental conservation.

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