SRINAGAR: Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) has raised the water level in Dal lake allegedly to hoodwink the people on cleanliness drive and clearance of weeds and algae. The increase in water level comes in the wake of increase in tourist footfall around the lake.
People who reside in the Dal backwaters allege that the increase in water level has put the residents of the area at risk of flooding. They also allege that the authority was not pursuing the preservation of the lake seriously and was instead resorting to image makeover tactics.
“What have they (LAWDA) done so far? By raising the water level, they have jeopardized our life. We fear continues increase in water level may submerge our homes,” said Mohammad Ashraf, who lives in the lake.
The residents say that whenever they protest, the officials tell them that raising the water level was necessary. “The answers they give clearly indicate that the concerned department and the government want to destroy Dal. Had they been doing their work honestly, they would have polled their efforts to clean it,” Ashraf added.
The JKLAWDA was created by the government of J&K as an autonomous body under LAWDA Act to look after, manage and conserve water bodies and water ways of the state.
Muzaffar Kand, a houseboat owner, said that algae and unwanted weed had occupied most of the water body, and if the department doesn’t put some serious efforts to clean Dal, it will turn into another Wular Lake. “What authority does is increase the water level during the peak of tourist season to hide its failure. They also increase the water level when there is VIP moment.”
Kand added that if measures were not taken to restore the Lake, fisherman and other business communities who depend on it will be affected.
Executive Engineer Lake Division First, Ramman Uppal said that the authority raised the water level to maintain a “nine to nine point five feet” water level.
But the authority seems to have little concern for the possibility of flooding homes in the lake. Many houseboat owners complained that their houses cold become inaccessible in rain. “Rains will discharge more water into the lake and we will be flooded,” a houseboat owner said.