Punjab News Dehradun institute to study Sukhna catchment


Prime VIP
Dehradun, June 24

With the aim of checking the silt inflow into the Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh, the Dehradun-based Forest Research Institute (FRI) is all set to identify indicator plant species in the lake’s catchment area, for an on-the-ground assessment of the health of the eco-system in the catchment, which comprises 10,292 acres falling in Chandigarh and Punjab and also barren hills of Haryana.

The efforts of the FRI have come at a time when The Tribune, in its lead story on June 3, “Sukhna is dying, save it”, highlighted the plight of the Sukhna. It’s struggling to survive the continuous deposition of silt apart from fast-spreading pernicious weed. The Tribune has since then started a campaign to save the Sukhna.

Following The Tribune news reports, the premier forestry research institution of South Asia, FRI’s services have been sought by the Chandigarh authorities to assess the health status of Sukhna’s catchment area, which has faced a long neglect.

Institute’s Director SS Negi, who returned from Chandigarh a week ago, confirmed today FRI’s new initiative at the Sukhna at the behest of the Chandigarh forest authorities. “We have been approached by the Department of Forests, Chandigarh, that has asked us to conduct a survey of the Sukhna catchment area to help identify indicator plant species, which will reveal the health of the catchment’s eco system and help arrest flow of silt into the lake,” Dr Negi said, adding that the indicator species are important from biodiversity point of view.

A team of the FRI from Botany Division has already started preparations for the survey of indicator species that is to begin shortly. The survey will be carried out on the basis of various criterion and would also reveal the species of eco system importance in the Sukhna catchment. After identification, these indicator species would be regularly monitored and thus keep a tab on the health of the catchment. Dr Negi describes the Sukhna catchment as a rich biodiversity. Apart from varied plant species, faunal species like butterflies, insects and spiders are also in abundance there.

This is not the first time that the FRI has been involved in a Sukhna project. A few years back, the institute had come up with its first-ever scientific management plans for the Sukhna Wild Life Sanctuary. The ambitious plan for sanctuary had proposed putting it into three zones identified as wilderness, eco tourism and the restoration zones. The plan entails activities, including habitat improvement, weed eradication, grassland development, soil and water conservation, fire protection, wildlife health disease monitoring and wildlife conservation.

It may take more than a year to Botany Division scientists to complete the task of identification of the indicator species. Interestingly, the FRI has also been instrumental in setting up of a Forestry Extension Centre at Botanical Garden in Chandigarh. The centre aims at sensitising researchers, academicians, forest officials and villagers vis-à-vis forestry. The institute also contemplates treating sick Chandigarh trees affected with red ants.