Lying in the heart of summer-capital Srinagar, Dal Lake is considered as one of the finest and beautiful lakes worldover. The Lake also known as ‘Crown of Kashmir’ has over the years however fallen to official apathy leaving it grappling to maintain its zenith. The shine and beauty of the water body seems to have faded out because of overlapping policies and non-responsive administration for a considerable period now. The lake which we know dwells more than 50 thousand people besides being a source of their livelihood, however the successive governments in erstwhile J&K state, even as promises made by central government have made no significance on the continuous dilapidating status of the water body.
Dal Lake has two parts of which 30% are under people with full documentation and 70% under Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) – a semi government agency looking after water resources. When I personally traversed, I saw the lake under people is clean, beautiful and a source of income through ‘Nadroo’ cultivation and fishing, and at the same time 70% of the water body under government authorities gives a dismal look. In the government controlled portion, there is unwanted mushroom growth of weeds, which is taking the sheen out of the water body.
There are no waterways or channels wherefrom Shikara can criss-cross the lake, because LAWDA as it seems has never used its machines in Dal lake interiors. LAWDA has garbage collectors, but they don’t even visit interior localities while SMC officials just visit on roads weekly just to show off as if doing their duty.
The question lies, who will save this Dal Lake, and answer to it is only the local Dal dweller, given the government coordinates with them, for they have traditional techniques and equipment for weed extraction. They are dependent on it, that is why they are caring for it with full enthusiasm.
If authorities including SMC and LAWDA officials visit the venue regularly besides police keeping a regular vigil vis-à-vis the ill activities taking place in and outside the water body, a lot of things can improve.
It is ironic to say that LAWDA never put a dustbin along the banks of the lake, however thanks to some locals and volunteers who have been untiringly working to collect the garbage from the locality.
The problem doesn’t stop here, it is engrained in the fact that LAWDA doesn’t have any proper laws or planning for Dal Lake conservation. Since 1986, LAWDA and Srinagar administration could not rehabilitate Dal dwellers anywhere.
LAWDA still in the 21st century continues to draft plans on the survey of 1986, however failed to make any fresh survey to see the current ground situation. Several new constructions have come up over the time along the lake, which itself is a flagrant violation to the High Court rules. This somehow exposes the connivance of the authorities with these unscrupulous elements who are on prowl to encroach upon the prized property.
With no rehabilitation policy in sight, things are continuously going out of control. From one side authorities are restoring Khusal sar and Nallah Amir khan and another side avoiding Dal lake, however this callousness will lead to an ultimate disaster to the tourism sector, because the Dal has been a major tourist attracting site.
We as a society need to think and rethink what is supposed to do to bring back the glory and zenith of the lake. Let better sense prevail!