History of Bhimtal Lake
It has been analyzed by geologists that the earth's crust shifted, resulting in the formation of a number of faults. This further resulted in the blockade of the overland flows and creation of the Bhimtal Lake.
Geography of Bhimtal Lake
Globally, Bhimtal Lake can be pinpointed at coordinates 29 degrees 20 minutes 35 seconds north and 79 degrees 33 minutes 33 seconds east. The lake and its dam are located at an elevation of about 1,375 meters (4,511 ft) above sea level. This lake has a catchment area of near about 17.12 square kilometres (6.61 sq mi) and a surface area of about 47.8 hectares (118 acres). It has a length of about 1701 meters, width of about 451 meters and a depth of about 18 meters. It has a gross storage capacity of about 4.63 million cubic meters (164 X 10.6 cu ft) with a live storage capacity of about 3.54 X 10.6 m3 (125 X 10.6 cu ft). The surface inflow into the reservoir is only 1.756 X 10.6 m3 (62.0 X 10.6 cu ft) and the balance storage is contributed by subsurface sources. Characteristically, this "C" shaped lake is big and deep. Its water is generally clear, but receives a brown coloration during a few months. This is because of the infused animalcule. The brown coloration is associated with a local myth that once a victim is claimed by the lake the coloration vanishes. The reservoir of the lake has been classified as manomictic with stratification extending over a period from March to November, with one inner circulation. The stored water is released through an outlet leading to the Gola River. It functions to supplement the flows of the Bhabar canals. The water surface area of the lake is affected by the release of water from the reservoir. More specifically, the water surface area consequently gets lowered.
The banks of the lake are characteristically steep with shingle at lower elevations and bushes and grass at higher elevations. The forested area in the western side of the lake is adorned with cottages. A temple as old as 17th century has been built by Raja Baj Bahadur Chand of Kumaon Kingdom on the banks of the dam of the lake.
A peripheral road on the banks of the lake provides clear views of fish life in the lake and the opposite side has terraced fields. On the southern shore of the lake, a small shopping centre is located. The northern shore of the lake is provided with a small sanitarium. More specifically, this small sanitarium is located at a height of about 1,525 meters (5,003 ft) and is known to be healthy and free from malaria. The northern end of the lake is provided with a prison camp. It was established in 1902 to house prisoners of the Boer War.
Climate of Bhimtal Lake
The Bhimtal Lake basin is characterized by varying tropical to sub-tropical weather conditions. This basin receives very high precipitation. This precipitation is known to mostly occur during the monsoon period.
Flora of Bhimtal Lake
The catchment area of the Bhimtal Lake, more specifically the hills is enveloped by dense forest. Chir pine, ban oak and mixed deciduous forests comprise the forest vegetation of the lake area.
Fauna of Bhimtal Lake
Bhimtal Lake is known to be a home to fish species. To utilize the fish available in the lake a fish farm has been set up in the Bhimtal. Mahseer and Tor putitora are the fish species caught in large amount every year from the lake. Other fishes known to exist in this lake are snow trout, catla, rohu, silver carp and grass carp, common carp like cyprinus carpio and major carps like labeo rohita, cirrhinus mrigala and catla catla. Fishing in the lake becomes a possibility only after receiving the permission of the Deputy Commissioner.
The surrounding of Bhimtal Lake is known to be a home to wildlife. Barking deer, Kalij pheasants, Koklass pheasants, white-capped laughingthrush, migratory ducks and geese comprise the wildlife of the Bhimtal Lake.
Utilization of Bhimtal Lake
The Bhimtal Lake has various economic and social values. With a variety of fish species in the lake, aquaculture became a possibility. Bhimtal Lake can be called a tourism product of Bhimtal town. The picturesque island in the centre of the lake has recreation facilities and also an aquarium. They are known to draw a number of tourists and reachable by rowing boats. The Bhimtal Lake also acts as a source of drinking water.
Development of Bhimtal Lake
The Bhimtal Lake was provided with a dam in the year 1883. It was the time when the Kumaon region was under the British Raj following the Anglo-Nepal War (1814–1816). This dam is located in the Seismic Zone IV is defined as a masonry structure. It has a length of about 150 m (500 ft) and a height of about 14.8 m (48.5 ft). The base of the dam at the center has a width of about 11 m (36 ft) which reduces to a top width of 3.0 m (10 ft). As per estimations, this dam has a capacity to pass a flood discharge of about 1,600 cu ft/s via a chute spillway with12 gates.
Ecological Crisis Faced by Bhimtal Lake
Ecological crisis faced by the Bhimtal Lake is in terms of retrogressive ecological change of its water quality. This change is a result of certain uncontrolled activities like sewage disposal, sediment inflow, and waste disposal by tourists. As a result, harmful levels of dissolved oxygen level have been estimated in the lake. The lake is known to be in a mesotrophic state due to the disposal of sewage directly into the lake from the residential complex built around the periphery of the lake. The lake is also in a pre-eutriphication stage owing to high (350 mg per liter) nitrate level in the lake. Shale and debris were also added to the contents of this lake as a result of the establishment of residential complexes post India’s freedom on the banks of the tributary stream of the lake. Unfortunately, unwanted shale and debris are known to still deteriorate the quality of Bhimtal Lake. It is important to note that the bed of the lake is a home to deposits of injurious matter, which has consequently resulted in high fish mortality rate in the lake along with poor quality of drinking water.
Restoration of Bhimtal Lake
To prevent a water resource like Bhimtal Lake to be further deteriorated in quality, a number of steps have been planned. The periphery of the lake has been planned to be provided with a sewer line around, in order to trap all the sewage from the residential areas and prevent it from entering the lake. Regular dredging of the lake became imperative due to the inflow of sediments from the catchment caused by intense building activity on the banks of the lake. A treatment plant is also part of the waste water treatment process in order to treat the waste water of the lake.
Kathgodam is the nearest rail-head to Bhimtal Lake. It is located at a distance of about 20 kilometers (12 mi) from the lake. This lake is located at a distance of about 22.5 kilometers (14.0 mi) from the district town of Nainital.
Water Resources in India
Lakes of India
Dams in India
Estuaries of India