Jal Mahal – Mansagar Lake
Mansagar Lake, located north of Jaipur (capital city of Royal state of Rajasthan) was constructed by damming Darbhawati River around 1610 A.D. by Raja Man Singh I, the then ruler of Amer, for irrigation and recreation purpose. A palace (Jal Mahal) was built in the middle of the lake, and a temple on its northwestern end. The lake is flanked by Nahargarh hills on western, northern and eastern sides.
The lake has a water surface area of about 139 hectares (300 acres) and has a catchment area of 23.5 sq. km. Approx. 40 % of the catchment falls inside dense urban area and the remaining area is covered by denuded hills. The average depth of the lake varies from 1.5 to 4.5 m.
Problems Faced By Man Sagar Lake in Past :
After independence of India, the lake was no more used for recreation and the palace had been abandoned. In 1962, the sewage from the walled city of Jaipur was diverted into the lake. It caused rapid siltation, water storage capacity decreased considerably and the palace (jal mahal) got submerged to a depth of about 3 m during the rainy season. Human was still not stopped to damaging nature for its needs. The hills surrounding the lake have also been subjected to extensive deforestation rendering them almost bare. In August 1981, unprecedented rain caused heavy floods that brought enormous amounts of silt and sand from the south eastern side filling up large area of the lake.
Problems in Present :
The foremost problem of the lake is the inflow of waste water from the Nagatalai and Brahampuri Nallahs. Several household industries in the catchment also contribute their pollutant load. The north zone sewage treatment plant treats domestic waste water only partially.
Erosion from the hills on the north brings considerable silt into the lake. There had also been a severe infestation of water hyacinth (also called as the terror of Bengal) which had been completely removed manually.
The lake water is still used for irrigation in downstream areas. However, being close to the Amber Fort, a famous tourist place, and the only water body near Jaipur, the lake has a great potential for recreational tourism.
Efforts Made :
The lake conservation plan for the Mansagar Lake under the NLCP (National Lake Conservation Plan), stressed upon the diversion and treatment of waste water, desiltation, bio-remediation and catchment treatment for improving water quality and ensuring a certain minimum level of water in the lake. Extensive desiltation of lake was undertaken to remove about 4.10 lakh meter cube silt from the lake bed. A Settling Tank was constructed on the northern side near Amber Road to trap the sediments from the hills. The existing Sewage Treatment Plant was redesigned and renovated to enhance the treatment capacity. The waste water draining from the western sides of the lake were realigned and the wastewater from Nagtalai Nallah and Brahmpuri Nallah has been channelised to bypass the lake directly. Water quality is regularly monitored against the baseline data gathered by the University of Rajasthan. Afforestation of the hills in the catchment has been undertaken by the State Forest Department.
Jal Mahal Jaipur as Magnet for Tourists
Lake Front has been improved with the development of a Promenade for the visitors, and extensive plantation of reeds and flowering trees along the shoreline. Some of the dredged sediments were used to create a few islands which were planted and provided nesting and resting sites for both resident and migratory birds. These have promoted biodiversity of birds, encouraged birdwatching and enhanced the aesthetic and educational value of the lake.
Traditional Rajasthani style wooden boats are available which takes tourists to the Jal Mahal.
A public-private-partnership has been considered desirable to sustain the lake maintenance on a continuous basis. The private partner has been entrusted with the task of renovating the Jal Mahal monument in the lake and develop the lake precincts for tourism and recreation facilities by developing a sports and sailing club, traditional food restaurants, handicraft shopping complex, amusement park and children’s park, and appropriate parking facilities for the visitors. The revenue generated from the activities managed by the private partner will be used for the maintenance of the lake, thereby ensuring sustainability.
The Lake besides lots of problem faced, is still a center for tourist attraction and best water source for Jaipur residents. After all it is very nicely said in hindi “Jal hi Jeevan hai” (means “water is life”).