SRINAGAR: J&K’s Lakes and Waterways Development Authority has said that relocation of inhabitants and houseboats is necessary for the cleaning and restoration of the lake.
Nearly 38,000 people reside within the lake and the houseboats can accommodate a further 10,000, according to a report prepared by the IIT Roorkee institute.
Dr Abdul Hafiz, Vice Chairman of LAWDA, told Kashmir Reader that once the dwellers and houseboats are relocated, the accumulated sediments can be removed and the Dal restored to its earlier state.
The revival of the Dal was formally taken up by the government in the 1970s. A project report for conservation and management of Dal Lake prepared by IIT Roorkee identified shrinkage of the lake, water being polluted from poisonous chemicals, reduction in flow of fresh water, and clogging of water channels within the lake. The report had said that the shrinkage of the lake was due to space occupied by dwellings and floating gardens. The water was being polluted by sewerage flowing out of these dwellings and from houseboats, as well as from the city. The volume of water was shrinking due to accumulation of sediments in the lake bad.
Hafiz said that except the relocation of dwellers and houseboats and the cleaning up of accumulated sediment, all other “targets” have either been achieved or are nearly achieved.
“Once these are achieved, Dal will be fully restored. If the pace of work does not stop, within three years the job will be done,” Hafiz said.
He said that 75 springs were cleaned up last year and wetlands and ponds are being upgraded to prevent the inflow of phosphorus. “De-weeding is an ongoing process which we continue to do,” he said.
Hafiz said that a weed-like growth of water lily had spread on a 5-km patch, but it has now been reduced to a 1-km patch. “The process of removal of the rest continues,” he said.
The solid waste generated in human settlements within the lake, as per the IIT Roorkee report, was one of the factors for the deterioration of the lake. The population within the lake contributing to the solid waste could go up to about 48,000 (with accommodation of 10,000 persons in houseboats) during the tourist season, the report had estimated.
Hafiz said that the houseboats will soon be relocated to the Dole Demb area of the Dal, which will have mechanism for sewage treatment. He said that removal of dwellings from the lake will open up space and the process of removal of accumulated sediment can then be taken up in a phased manner.