Lonar lake: HC seeks report on colour change

The Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court has sought reports on the environmental impact assessment of Lonar lake from National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) and the Geological Survey of India.

A Division Bench of Justices Sunil Shukre and Anil Kilor was hearing a petition filed by one Kirti Nipankar, raising concerns over the lake water which has turned pink in colour.

The Bench said a court-appointed committee, including the judges themselves, would visit the site.

The State Forest Department informed the court it has already collected samples from the lake which have been sent to NEERI, in Nagpur, and the Agarkar Research Institute in Pune.

Advocate Anand Parchure, appearing for the petitioner, told the court that an expert team which is probing the colour change could also examine findings submitted by NASA expert Dr. Shawn Wright.

As per Dr. Wright’s findings, there is a glass formation over the surface of the bed rock of the Lonar crater, which is a basalt rock. This is a new feature not found anywhere else on the Earth and only on the beds of craters existing on moon.

The Bench directed NEERI and Agarkar Research Institute to submit their reports to the court within four weeks. It said, “The expert team from NEERI and the Geological Survey of India shall examine the findings regarding glass formation on surface of the crater lake by collecting requisite samples and analysing them, and submit their reports within a period of four weeks.”

The forest department also informed the Bench that since the area is an eco-sensitive zone, the construction of Lonar-Kinhi road would be a problem, as there is a large quantity of a unique material called ejecta blanket, which contains is a substance found on the moon.

The court accepted this argument and directed the Buldhana district collector to take immediate steps to protect the material from possible theft and pilferage. It also prohibited construction of the Lonar-Kinhi Road until further orders, and posted the matter for hearing on June 29.

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