Barinder Saluja, Chandigarh,July 13 : Till recently among the country’s best rowing centres, Sukhna Lake is no longer fit for even basic water sports. Weeds and silt have turned it into virtually a pond.
The lake’s 2-km watercourse has hosted three international events and six national rowing championships, besides producing dozens of international and national level rowers but its fame is now in danger of drying up. The culprit: Chara, a Brazilian weed. Commonly known as musk grass, the dense and widespread weed covers about 70 per cent of the lake’s surface.
Chara sucks up water and hampers the movement of boats and oars besides being a cause for skin allergy. Noticed about two years ago, how the weed arrived is a mystery.
Water sports were last seen at Sukhna in December 2006 when the All India Inter-Universities Rowing Championships was conducted. Even training activities have remained rudderless.
“The 2-km course stretching from the regulator end to the island near the club-house is just about ruined. One can barely move 500 metres before running aground over silt or being entrapped in weeds,” said Kanav Dosajh, who won a bronze in the 12th Asian Junior Rowing Championship, South Korea in 2007.
Accumulated silt has also shrunk the 65-metre wide course’s width by over 10 metres. Rowers say they need a depth of at least 10 feet to match international standards. At places, the effective depth can now actually be measured in inches.
“Since rowing and sailing are virtually out, our training regimen has been reduced to just physical exercises like running and weight training,” said Gaurav Sharma, an inter-varsity gold medallist.
“For actual rowing practice before tournaments, we have to go to centres like Roorkee, Hyderabad, Bhopal and Pune, but it is neither practical nor cost-effective,” added Bittu another inter-varsity champion. Generally, such camps are of 10-day duration.
“A lot of effort has gone over the years to produce eminent rowers and keep the lake’s stature afloat in the international arena,” said Arvind Sehgal, a rowing coach at the lake. “If the situation persists, the future of water sports in the City Beautiful is doomed,” he added.
The UT Sports department when contacted about this situation said that they have made arrangements to tackle with so called “Brazilian Weed” by introducing a special breed of Fish which is fond of eating this very Weed. Total 4000 Nos. of this fish eggs will be planted in the waters of the Sukhna Lake to De-Weed it.