Govt apathy hinders restoration of water bodies
Authorities sit on conservation of Gilsar, Anchar, Khushalsar
WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY
Signifying non-seriousness of the Government towards conservation of water bodies, restoration plans of three vital lakes in the summer capital have been gathering dust for the past several years.
On the occasion of World Environment Day on June 5, environmentalists have decried inaction of authorities to restore Gilsar, Khushalsar and Anchar and recommended immediate conservation of these water bodies.
Gilsar, Khushalsar and Anchar are interconnected lakes and help to regulate outflow waters of Dal lake. However, in absence of any conservation measures these water bodies are on the verge of extinction with major chunk of their areas filled up mainly for agricultural activities and constructions.
These lakes till few decades ago possessed crystal clear waters hosting rich aquatic life including many species of fish. Besides small swaps in these water bodies attracted different species of migratory birds. However, extensive pollution has propelled the growth of obnoxious weeds and vegetation in these lakes, turning several spots into marsh.
Studies have revealed that chemical parameters of these lakes have far exceeded the permissible levels. Due to massive encroachments over the past decades, Anchar lake has borne the brunt as it has been reduced from 19.54 sq.kms to 6.8 sq kms of which 3.6 sq.kms is marsh.
“Majority of spots in these three lakes have become dumping sites of all allochanthus and non- allochanthus materials which has resulted in chocking of the body and hampered the flow of waters,” said noted environmentalist Dr MRD Kundangar who has conducted studies of these water bodies.
He said expansion of human settlements in catchment of Gilsar, Khushalsar and Anchar lakes has disturbed ecology and bio-diversity. “Heavy loads of nutrients in the form of domestic effluents, residual fertilizers, encroachments unabated siltation besides opening of the terrestrial ecosystem has resulted in degradation of these water bodies,” he said.
Dr Kundangar accused the state government of sitting over restoration of these urban lakes. “I recently took up the issue with Union Tourism secretary Pervez Devan. He revealed that Rs six crore released for restoration of Anchar lake restoration in the previous year could not be utilized by the state government. Devan said he is ready to grant Rs 12 crore for restoration of Anchar and Gilsar if a proposal if is sent to him through the Tourism department, but is the state government is not interested,” he asked.
“On the occasion of World Environment Day, let us pledge to contribute our bit to restore these water bodies,” he added.
Prof. Shakil A Romshoo, Head Department of Earth Sciences, Kashmir University said deterioration of Gilsar, Khushalsar and Anchar can be detrimental to Dal lake. He said rapid urbanization of the catchment coupled with reckless deforestation and uncontrolled use of fertilizers and pesticides in the catchment are responsible for the excessive nutrient load and decrease of water depth of these water bodies. “This has resulted in colonization of the open waters by weeds and other aquatic vegetation,” Prof. Romshoo said.
Till date no department has been entrusted with conservation of Gilsar, Khushalsar and Anchar. The Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) entrusted with conservation of Dal and Nigeen lakes had last year submitted Management Action Plan for restoration of Gilsar, Khushalsar and Anchar lakes to the Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India.
The action plan under the National Lake Conservation Programme envisaged arresting raw sewage by establishing a sewage network, improvement in hydrology, regulation of flows, dredging and beautification of peripheries of these three lakes.
“The action plan has not been approved yet. We will take up the issue with concerned quarters,” said Satish Nehru, secretary Housing and Urban Development department.