Dal Lake is situated in the heart of Srinagar city, amid high mountains. It is the second-largest lake in Jammu and Kashmir. It is shallow with a depth of around 6m. Currently it has an area of 16 sq km. Earlier it spanned an area of 22 sq km.
Dal Lake is a major attraction for tourism and recreation. Scenic views of the lake can be witnessed from the shore line and from Mughal gardens such as Shalimar Bagh and Nishat Bagh. The shore line of the lake, about 15.5 km in length, is encompassed by a boulevard lined with Mughal-era gardens, parks, houseboats and hotels.
Dal Lake is also known as “Lake of Flowers”. It hosts a floating market where vendors sell their produce directly from their boats. In some areas, swimming is popular, as is canoeing and other forms of boating. Dal Lake also has commercial uses, such as fishing and weed harvesting for compost making.
Dal lake has been encroached mercilessly and has already shrunk and polluted to an alarming level. Pollutants that enter in Dal Lake are sewage and sullage, agriculture runoff, detergents and soaps, etc. Hence, it faces a serious pollution crisis.
Various measures should be taken for conservation of Dal Lake. These include afforestation of catchment area, installation of Sewage Treatment Plants, removal of weeds on continuous basis. Educating villagers regarding the importance of construction of sanitation latrines to prevent disposal of sewage into the lake is as important. All these measures will reduce pollution and help preserve this beautiful lake of Kashmir.
The writer is a student at Faculty of Forestry, SKUAST-K.