While Dal is dying, govt moving at snail’s pace to protect it

While Dal is dying, govt moving at snail’s pace to protect it
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Billed as important component to protect lake, only half of Rakh-e-Arth developed
SRINAGAR: Rehabilitation of Dal Lake dwellers at Rakh-e-Arth is billed as one of the important components to protect the water body, a flagship of Kashmir tourism.
In 2007, 7,526 kanals of vast wetland in city outskirts known as Rakh-e-Arth were earmarked for construction of the housing colonies for the rehabilitation of the Dal dwellers. Environmental clearance from State and National Wild Life Board were obtained soon. However, the successive governments have been able to develop only 2140 out of 10600 plots–—each measuring seven marlas of land— to be allotted to Dal Dwellers.
Based on socio-economic survey of 1986, which is being relied upon by Lakes and Waterways development Authority (LAWDA), 2532 households, comprising more than a one family, spread over 58 hamlets within the lake are to be removed and families dwelling therein rehabilitated at Rakh-e-Arth.  According to information revealed by the government in state assembly on Wednesday, only 298 families of Dal dwellers have been shifted to the Rakh-e-Arth so far.
Giving the break up of plan, the government said that among the 7526 Kanals, 4000 Kanals have been kept for plots, 1082 Kanals for roads, 175 Kanals for commercial offices, 50 kanals for Institutional facilities, 438 kanals for nodal facilities like shopping, primary schools,  installation of electric transformers,  local dumping sites, milk booth etc, 150 kanals are meant for ‘major education/ health facilities’, 189 kanals for green playfields and incidental spaces, 50 kanals for religious-sites, 52 kanals for ‘treatment plant’, 340 kanals for graveyards (under HTIine) while 1000 kanals are for ‘wetland and green belt’.
Responding to a question by NC MLA, Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, deputy chief minister Dr Nirmal Singh said that earth filing has been completed in 1914 kanals only so far.
Singh, who is also minister in-charge of H&UDD, said over 17 kanals land have acquired for approach road, 1.75 kms for construction of approach road,  6.075 kms for ‘sub main road, 2.5kms for construction of bye lanes. He said one shop line has been also completed while water and electric supply is “being provided to the Dal Dwellers through PHE and PDD department respectively.”
“Authority (LAWDA) has to lay a total length of 36 kms of sewer line so far 9.712 kms have been laid,” he said.  Last year, Vice chairman of the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) told Kashmir Reader that the slow progress in developing Rakh-e-Arth has remained mainly due to the availability of meager funds.
Besides funds, availability of material to be filled-in also remains a big issue for the authorities.
“It is not that LAWDA is going slow, there are many constraints which contribute to it (delay),” the VC had said.
Elucidating, the VC said there could be no work for seven months due to floods of 2014.
“Material comes from quarries or from places were dredging takes place and from both the sources, it comes only once there is no rainfall or there is no wetness. In 2015, we saw lot of rain and as such material was not available,” he had said.
Asked whether LAWDA may find it difficult to deal with rehabilitation given its reliance on 1986 survey, the VC had said: “we are alive to it.”
“The population has increased in these structures (households) present there (within the lake) and as per our scheme of things, this part is already taken care of.   Where there is more than one family, it is duly compensated as per its size,” the VC had said, adding, “2538 structures do not mean that there are only 2538 families. There are more families in these structures and they are duly compensated.”
The VC had said that beside the socio-economic survey, households from Saida Kadal Srinagar were also added to list of families to be rehabilitated and it was done on the directions by the high court.

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