Dam burst threatens Udaipur as city stretches capacity of its lakes for tourists

National |  IANS  | Published : Sun, Mar 20, 2022, 02:16 PM

Jaipur, March 20 (IANS) Udaipur, despite being ranked third in the list of smart cities, faces the threat of Badi Pal dam outburst as the water level in the lakes here is being maintained at a very high level than it should be even in the summers only for attracting tourists and doing good business.

"It is the vested interests of hoteliers who are working hand in glove with officials and politicians to ensure Udaipur becomes a round-the-year tourist destination," alleged Vishvaraj Singh, a member of an ex-royal family of Mewar region in a one-on-one conversation with IANS.

"All outlets from renowned Pichola lake have been blocked and the wall has been constructed between Doodh Talai and Pichola lake which is leading to an increased pressure on the dam throughout the year thus bringing up a situation of dam outburst," he added.

It's not wrong to say that tourism is ruining the lake city, says Vishvaraj.

"Earlier, water levels in the Pichola lake were as allowed as per the rainfall volume. Water level would reduce during the dry months, ensuring a period of maintenance and no continuous pressure was built on the Badi Pal Dam. Also, there were no activities or construction on this dam and it was maintained as a grove of trees for reasons of safety and to ensure the longevity of the dam."

The ancient water conservation system which was built with years of thinking and research is being left to die its own death, courtesy the lobbying between hoteliers, officials, and politicians, said Vishvaraj.

Speaking on the ancient water flow system, he said, "Earlier, Kamal Talai in Gulab Bagh was not tiled, which allowed excess water to seep into the ground and the bavdis in Gulab Bagh were maintained smartly. The excess water flowed onwards to Ayad, Udai Sagar etc and the irrigation Department / PWD would inspect & repair the pipes leading from Badi Pal annually. The responsibility to maintain the structural safety of the Dam was with the government," he said.

"Now, water outlet from Doodh Talai has been closed by the administration. One outlet on the north side of Pichola lake was closed by Gulab Bagh personnel and the other by a private party. A wall has been erected between Doodh Talai & Pichola in years when there was less rainfall with the intention that water would not drain away from Doodh Talai. Man-made lakes have fallen victim to overzealous tourism as hoteliers pressure governments to make changes in old structures aiming at making Udaipur a year round tourist destination," he added.

Taking a strong initiative in this reference, Maharana Mahendra Singh Mewar, Former MP Lok Sabha 9 - Chittorgarh in fact wrote a letter to Speaker Om Birla in August 2021 alleging that MP from Udaipur, Arjunlal Meena had misled the House with regard to the safety & repairs of Badi Pal, the dam of lake Pichola in Udaipur.

In this letter, he said that numerous letters have been sent to various authorities and successive governments warning them that it would be dangerous to alter the centuries old water system and that the dam of Pichola had to be repaired.

The vertical face of the dam has not been inspected thoroughly for decades by the administration. There have been no repairs conducted to the dam for at least the last 50 years. Repeated requests for repairs and attention drawn to activities on the Dam that seriously compromise the safety of the Dam have been sent to the authorities / governments but no action has been taken. These activities are also against provisions of law, he said in a letter.

He also termed the high water level in summers in lakes as a short sighted step and quoted it as a dangerous decision of the authorities to keep the water level unnaturally high in Lake Pichola.

Meanwhile Vishvaraj said, "The felling of trees & constructions on Badi Pal are in flagrant violation of the Supreme Court directions and other regulations prohibiting such acts near the lake and more importantly are a danger to the safety of the Dam & the City. Added to this is the vibration of vehicular movement.

The tide of tourists will wash away the identities of lakes here in Udaipur, he sighed and said, "The high ranks in Smart City are of no use if the age-old water conservation system is being destroyed for self sustaining goals."

"We need to learn from the Western world how they are storing their ancient legacy, their palaces, history and what not. We have destroyed ancient walls, which once were the beauty of walled cities and now we are ruining the water system too. It's a sham on the system," he commented.

Meanwhile, district collector Tarachand Meena was contacted in this reference but there was no answer.

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