SILCHAR: Sonbeel – the second largest wetland in Asia -- located under Ratabari constituency of Karimganj, is facing acute water crisis in this mansoon. It is drying and sinking, reducing the water to an unprecedented level. Such a phenomenon has not occurred in recent memory, observed the local people. Looking at this worrying scenario of the lake spread over 3458.12 hectares on land, fishermen who depend on it for their livelihood are quite flummoxed, unable to understand what next is writ on their fate.
People in general are worried at the minimal supply of fish in local markets. Sonbeel is known for varieties of fishes which are not only fresh and tasty but also nutritious. Around 35,000 families have their sustenance from the fresh water tectonic lake. There are fishermen who catch fish and sell them in markets. A good number of them are boatmen who take the local and outside visitors around the scenic and beautiful lake for a view of the nature around for entertainment. Some others are agriculturists. This way or the other they live with nature.
The gradual sinking of water quite naturally has raised the question about the very existence of the lake. Various species of fishes of the lake are endangered due to rise in toxic level and their shrinking habitats. According to Dr Debashis Kar, Professor of Life Science, Assam University, Sonbeel is home to 69 species of fishes, belonging to 49 genera, 24 families and 11 others. 84.2% of them are of fresh water group and rest of the peripheral class.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has already announced to make Sonbeel a tourist resort and include it in the map of sight- seeing visiting places like Malegarh as reported earlier. During winter, migratory birds flock in hundreds attracted by the aquatic creatures of the lake. Moreover, the beauty of lake is further enhanced by trees which are locally known as 'Izoil.' From all consideration, this rich biodiversity of Barak Valley's survival depends on Rain God.