Efforts on to Save Dal and Nigeen Lakes
Ehsan Fazili (Tribune)
Srinagar: An alarming increase in human population within the lake body from over 6000 to 70,000 people during the past 25 years has been a significant source of pollution in the Dal and Nigeen lakes, endangering their ecology and tourist attraction.
To save the lakes from ecological deterioration and to maintain high tourism potential, the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) has undertaken a Centrally-sponsored Rs 298.76 crore project since 2005, which is to be completed by the end of 2013.
“There has been a lot of human interference over the years, which includes coming up of hotels along the Boulevard road,” said Irfan Yaseen, Vice-Chairman of the LAWDA.
The population in and around the lake has increased to 3.5 lakh, which adds to the enrichment of nutrients, resulting in excessive growth of weeds. “The weeds are regularly being removed, relieving the lake of nutrients trapped in weeds,” adds the LAWDA chief.
During the past seven years, about 1,500 kanals have been converted into water and added to the lake, Irfan Yaseen disclosed. As part of the conservation and management project, the LAWDA has also rehabilitated 1,500 families in nine colonies set up away from the lake area, he revealed.
The menace of illegal constructions in and around the lake is unabated even as various measures have been taken to check it. “We have intensified the demolition drive against illegal constructions in and around the Dal Lake during the last six months,” Yaseen said.
Around 101 illegal structures have been removed while 21 trucks and tippers transporting illegal construction material have been seized so far. “The people have been asked to restrain from carrying out any sort of construction, encroachment and transportation of construction material in the area under the LAWDA,” Yaseen said. Yaseen pointed out that there has been no decline in the lake area and satellite imagery had put its area at 25.76 sqkm against 25.86 sqkm as recorded in 1895.
Similarly, the lake’s water surface stands at 20.21 sqkm against 18.21 sqkm in 1895, while the land mass and fixed cultivation stands at 5.55 sqkm against 7.65 sqkm in 1895.
The LAWDA has been working on reducing the pressure on the lake by establishing a settling basin having a capacity of 80,000 tonnes of silt.
The Dal Lake is unique because it is probably the only lake in which people live in hamlets and houseboats inside the lake and cultivation is carried out on floating gardens.