Bhubaneswar: Cyclone Fani, which wreaked havoc in Odisha on May 3, has created four new mouths in Lake Chilika, one of the largest brackish water lakes in India.
The lake earlier had two mouths. The two more that have opened up could make the lake water more saline, thus affecting marine life. “There were two active mouths before Fani, but now we found four new mouths. There are chances some of the new mouths may merge with the old mouths,” said Susanta Nanda, the chief executive of the Chilika Development Authority (CDA).
“We are studying what sort of impact it will have on Chilika. The immediate impact could be that there would be migration of fish,” she explained. “There were some weeds which were not decaying due to less salinity, but now there are chances those weeds will start decaying as the salinity of the water will increase.”
However, the monsoons can interfere. “Monsoon will soon arrive and the fresh water from 52 rivers will moderate the salinity as well.” The lake is known to be a mix of fresh and salty water. “We are going to monitor the lake and see whether the new mouths remain as they are or are closed.”
When asked whether the CDA will endeavour to close the new mouths, Nanda said it wouldn’t because “we get one or two new mouths after every cyclone. Moreover, the transfer of sediments closes the mouth by itself. It is a natural phenomenon.”
According to the CDA, Fani hasn’t damaged the lake’s ecology – “but the plantations have been damaged. However, the mangroves at Chilika are fine, which is good sign.”
Sibaprasad Parida, an expert who contributed to the dolphin and bird census in Chilika, believes that the new mouths could change the lake’s fish population for the better. “The fish population will increase, which may increase the fish production from Chilika. The crab population will also increase.”
“However, there may be a decline in fresh water fish. The marine life will improve, as fish migration can now take place from both sides.”
Monalisa Patsani is a freelance journalist.