Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Gompa Dara Lake in West Sikkim disappearsLake disappearance in Uttarey leaves villagers baffled

GANGTOK, August 05: The disappearance of a Lake at Uttarey in West Sikkim within a span of 15 minutes yesterday has left most of the villagers baffled.
Located about a kilometer from the Uttarey Bazaar, the waters of Gompa Dara Lake suddenly disappeared along with the huge bursting noise at about 12 noon yesterday. That has also left a lot of people worried.
According to the residents, who went to the lakeside immediately after the incident, the oblong shape lake had a huge crack in the middle of the bed.
Villagers claim that all the waters of the Lake drained into that crack. “A boat in the lake also flowed into the crack,” one of the villagers told SIKKIM EXPRESS.
Not being able to see where the water was draining, the anxious villagers believed that some natural calamities like flood or landslides may occur in two villages of Mukarung and Bandukey, which is located just below the lake.
Experts have opined that the incident seemed to have been a part of global warming and its resultant factors. Some say it could be a geological phenomenon.
A senior official of the State Mines and Geology Department told SIKKIM EXPRESS that the Gompa Dara Lake, also called Uttarey Jheel is actually a natural lake. The Department had done a survey on the Lake about seven years ago. The Lake, which was later recreated into an artificial lake for tourism purposes, may not cause severe damage if it has an exit point.
“The water of the Lake may flow into a river between Uttarey and Dentam,” he said. He further hinted that the possible silting of the lake may be the reason of its sudden disappearance adding that the true cause could be identified only after an inspection.
Uttarey Jheel was recreated for tourism activities like boating.
Today, a team headed by AK Singh, Additional District Collectorate, West, Prabhakar Rai, SDM, Jigme Dorji Bhutia, Disaster Project Officer, BDO Dentam, Panchayats and the local gentries visited the lake.
While talking with SIKKIM EXPRESS over the phone this afternoon, the DPO said the incident may have occurred due to loose soil and incessant rains, which led to the development of crack in the lake. However, till the filing of this report, the team was still unable to locate the outflow of the water due to continuous rain.
Mr. Bhutia also informed that a temporary restoration would be carried out for which the DC has sanctioned a fund under natural calamity fund to seal the crack and also to fence the entire lake area.
The DC has also directed the Gram Panchayats not to let any water accumulate nearby and also forbid people from going near the dried up lake.
“We will submit the report and will put a requisition to the State Mines and Geology Department to inspect the lake,” the DPO said.
The area MLA, Deepak Gurung also visited the site today.
According to studies, rapidly appearing or disappearing for some lakes is part of a natural process. For instance, the lake in Chile did not exist 30 years ago, though global warming is likely affecting the process now.
Studies reveal that Global warming and melting of glaciers seems to be the knee-jerk response lately whenever a dramatic environmental change is observed.
Global warming has become a big concern for lakes, as many bodies of water are experiencing receding water levels due to a combination of low rainfall and high temperatures.
“In the Magallanes province, where the lake is located, the Tempano and Bernardo glaciers are shrinking, and both of those glaciers contributed water to the lake. Experts like Gino Casassa and Andres Rivera, both glaciologists, point to global warming as the cause of the glaciers' melting, says a BBC report.
Besides, scientists have considered other possibilities. One theory scientists considered was that an earthquake in the area opened a fissure in the earth, which sucked down the lake.
In a similar incident of the sudden disappearance of a glacial lake in southern Chile, scientists believe that the region is shaken by frequent earth tremors. “A strong quake which hit the neighbouring region of Aysen in April 21 opened up the fissure in the bottom of the lake,” they said.

pic: himalayandarpan