Mass death of Migratory birds at Sambhar Lake

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Sambhar Lake, India’s largest inland Salt Lake, is today a graveyard for 20,000+ Migratory birds. The lake has been a home to these birds in winter for years. In 1982-83 there were 500,000 flamingos at the lake, in year 2008 just 20,000 and now just a few hundred. The major reason behind this is the continuous exploitation of Sambhar Lake now almost for a decade. Unfortunately very less actions have been taken against it.

Article by Environment reporter Bahar Dutt on current conditions:

The lake receives it’s water majorly from four rivers Mendha, Rupangarh, Kharian and Khandela and some smaller  tributaries. But due to several dams and anicuts built on these rivers hardly any water reaches the Lake, killing it over the years. 

A report by Prof. Abdul A Rahman:

And the major threat to the lake comes from the Salt mining mafias. Constantly, about 10,000 tractors (hardly a number above local population) are seen running to and fro from the river carrying massive amounts of unrefined salt. These mafias majorly operate around the Nawa area of the lake. The traditional salt extraction method have now been replaced by 2,000 borewells dug all around the lake. Some of which go as deep as 500 ft below the surface. Sambhar Salt Ltd. a subsidiary of Hindustan Salt Ltd. is the legal incharge of salt production at lake. They state that they struggle to produce 2lakh tons of salt at Sambhar vs 10 times produced by the illegal mafias.

A report by Down to earth on Salt mining issues:

More articles on the situation:

The illegal salt extraction is making the ground water dry, which is again a threat to the Lake, it’s ecosystem and the local population. The continuous illegal salt extraction has increased salt levels and lowered he water levels. Dr. Arvind Mathur, a veterinary doctor specialising in wildlife medicine suggests the cause of death of birds to be high sodium levels in the birds leading to paralysis. The increased salt levels is also affecting their food resources.

A study also indicates the harmful effects on locals labourers  working at salt mines. With bare minimum wage doesn’t cover up for health hazards they face. They inhale salt particles in air leading to rise in plasma sodium, which in turn, may increase blood pressure and risk of hypertension. Also with the rate of deterioration and exploitation the lake will soon die leaving the locals unemployed.

Earlier petitions have been filled by Mr. Naresh Kadyan and Mr. Vinod Kapur stating the emergency. But hardly any actions were made against the illegal salt miners at Sambhar.

With this petition I want to draw the attention of our leaders towards the illegal salt mining activities at Sambhar Lake. Strict actions on these activities are expected with a regular check on them. Removal of the borewells around the lake at once. And no private licenses to be given.

Immediate stronger actions to be taken in terms of both research and protection of the Migratory birds. As the current measures are not enough to save them. No concrete reason is released stating the cause of deaths. So better and faster research is required.

The salt extraction is to be done only by sustainable means. The traditional way of salt extraction wasn’t a bad one either. It’ll also support the livelihood of locals.

A proper study to be done on requirements of the Dams and anicuts made on rivers feeding the lake and water regulation. They’re the lifeline to the lake. 

Revival of Sambhar Lake to it’s original state. Proper support for it’s ecosystem.