Srinagar: With Lieutenant Governor (LG) Girish Chandra Murmu led administration making all efforts to restore the glory of Dal Lake, and taking up its beautification process under the Smart City plan, it will be interesting to see whether the government will take action against corrupt officials.
Over the years the government has spent over Rs 900 crore on restoration of the Dal Lake without any visible change in improvement of the famed water body.
The Dal Lake is famous across the world and most of the tourists visit Srinagar to see the famed lake. The government had started several projects designed to lease fresh life to the Dal Lake. These projects cost over Rs 900 crores to the government since 2002.
A major project ‘National Lake Conservation Programme’ was started in 2005 costing Rs 300 crore. The second conservation and management programme ‘Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Programme’ (PMRP) of 2010 costing Rs 350 crore.
The third project was for the rehabilitation of the families dislocated from Dal and Nigeen Lake. However, there is no visible change on the ground.
As per a report of Pollution Control Board, the water quality deteriorates because of untreated sewage into Dal Lake.
The PCB has submitted a report to government which showed presence of high levels of lead, arsenic, copper, and cadmium affecting the aquatic life of the lake.
A study conducted by Dr Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, who teaches at Kashmir University says, “32% of the lake falls under severe degradation, 48% under medium degradation while as 20% of the lake waters are relatively clean.”
“It faces multiple pressures from the unplanned urbanization, high population growth, nutrient load from intensive agriculture and tourism,” it reads.
Earlier, the High Court had also said that crores of rupees have been spent on Dal and no “fruitful results” have come out.
“Therefore, immediate measures are necessary before the situation is rendered hopeless. It is therefore, necessary to have an expert committee with most importantly the vision and the experience of having undertaken issues which involve wide spectrum, multi-dimensional assessment, evaluation and resolution,” the Court observed.
An official of Pollution Control Board told KNS that they have been continuously monitoring the water quality of the lake. “PCB has also submitted recommendations to the government about reasons to pollute the lake,” he said.
Mushtaq Ahmad, a resident of Dal Lake still remembers the time about three decades ago when lake water used to be pure enough to be consumed by people for drinking.
“At that time no filtration or treatment was being done by the government to maintain it or to keep it clean. The lake has witnessed a sea of changes in reverse direction due to urbanization and encroachment,” he laments.
He told KNS that authorities clean a portion of Dal Lake around the SKICC. “When one goes into the interiors of the lake, you will find how the famous lake is turning into a swamp,” he added.
Meanwhile the Dal Lake and its surrounding areas in Srinagar will soon be declared an eco-sensitive zone.
The famous lake has shrunk to less than half its original size with its capacity down to 40 per cent due to pollution and encroachment, government has observed.
“ In this regard the Committee of Experts (CoE) on Dal and Nageen lakes shall submit the final proposal to the Housing and Urban Development Department (HUDD) by 20th of February,” a senior official said.
It is to mention here that Divisional commissioner Kashmir Baseer Khan Friday said that the administration is taking up Dal beautification process under the Smart City plan.
Baseer Ahmad Khan told this during a meeting convened to review various issues pertaining to the Dal Lake.
He said that smart cards will be distributed among the Dal dwellers and directed the Srinagar Deputy Commissioner to submit a complete report in this regard to the Divisional Commissioner’s office immediately.
The Divisional Commissioner also directed the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) to deploy men and machinery on the western site of Dal Lake and clear the portion of weeds by February 25.