Srinagar: The government efforts to rejuvenate the Brari Nambal lagoon are making no headway for lack of funds, and for the fact that rejuvenation is dependent on land acquisition.
“Out of 700 kanals of land state has only 200 kanals under its belt and the remaining land is becoming an issue. The work (rejuvenation) will only get complete if land acquisition issue gets resolved,” Vice Chairman Jammu Kashmir Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), Hafeez Masoodi told Kashmri Reader.
Brari Nambal or Babdemb, considered a lagoon of the Dal Lake, has turned into a cesspool over decades, and despite lot of talk by successive governments, little work is done on the ground to restore its glory.
While a lot of guest houses have come around the area, given its vicinity to city centre and Dal Lake, the stink from the lagoon is turning a dampener for potential tourist trade.
“Both government and people have to think about Brari Nambal. There is no doubt its get polluted with each passing day. It has shrunk so much. Government has to take serious steps to ensure that lake is preserved. Or time will come it will become history,” Mohammad Nazir, a resident of the area said.
In January last year, Deputy Chief Minister, Nirmal Singh approved Rs 16.91 crores for the conservation of the lagoon under the State Annual Action Plan 2016-2017 for Srinagar city under Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation.
However, Masoodi said that the department has received only Rs 3 crore so far and are waiting for the remaining funds from the state to start the full-fledged work.
As per Masoodi there are six to seven components in Brari Nambal rejuvenation but the main thing responsible for slow progress is the land acquisition issue.
“We are in the process of acquiring land and raising funds for the land acquisition, once the land is acquired we will have the lagoon restoration,” Masoodi added.
He said that all the components of lagoon rejuvenation were dependent on the land acquisition.
“Land acquisition is our main concern. Keeping in mind our requirements, we have asked for Rs 80 crore,” he said.
Local residents say that many ministers have visited the area over the past years, and promised “many things” which have never been translated on ground.
“There are at least 130 guest houses around Brari Nambal and tourist flow would have been great as Lal chowk is in the vicinity but it’s unfortunate that the guest houses have lost the race because of untidy lagoon,” Bashir Wani, a hotel owner in Babademb locality said.
In summers no tourist is ready to hire room in this area because of the stink from the lagoon, he said.
Kashmiri Pandits visiting Manglashawar temple in the centre of lagoon also complain of the stink.
“Earlier they would visit this temple in Shikaras and on way would drink water of the lagoon but now due to official apathy, the lagoon has turned into a marsh,” Wani added.
Executive Engineer Lake Division First, Ramman Uppal told Kahmir Reader that they have start dredging in the lagoon and are working on retaining walls.
“We are facing funds problem and land acquisition,” Uppal said.
“We started work on this lagoon in 2017. We hope once these two problem are solved, we too start full-fledged work, as we have only 200 kanal of land, other 500 are public property.”
Officials said that people owning the land in the lagoon were ready to give their land against a fair compensation.