Despite spending crores govt fails to restore Dal’s lost glory

In less than two decades, the authorities have spent a whopping amount of money on the conservation of the Dal Lake, but the government as well as experts admit that there has been “little or no change” in the lake’s worsening situation.

Experts have blamed the outdated conservation plans and the unscientific ways for the failure.

Recently, the government, in its report, had informed the High Court that Rs 759 crore had been spent on the conservation of the lake since 2002. The court observed that the “lackadaisical approach on part of the law enforcing agencies has emboldened the land mafia, trespassers and encroachers to undertake earth filling on the periphery of the lake, resulting in the further decrease in its area.”
“Crores of rupees have been spent so far, but nothing has happened on the ground,” the court observed, saying that immediate measures were necessary before the situation was rendered hopeless.

The lake receives about 97,000 kg of sewage every day, according to a study.

Shakeel Ramshoo, Head of Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Kashmir, said the conservation efforts of the authorities were “outdated”, which was why the efforts had shown little result.

“There is a lack of vision document on part of the authorities on what the lake should look like. The conservation plans till now have been based on outdated data of 1990s and 2000 which have shown no positive results,” he said.

“The aquatic weeds have increased in the past few years. No scientific knowledge-based plan being followed. We all know what the problems in the lake are, there is a lot of pollution and inflow of sewage,” he said.

Srinagar mayor Junaid Azim Mattu, while acknowledging that there were no results in the restoration of the lake, said there is a need for coordination between different departments.

“So much money has been spent on the conservation of the lake but I see zero result. All departments that are working for the conservation of the lake need to work in coordination and form a task force,” Mattu said.

The water quality assessments of the lake that were done in December last year reveal that the lake’s survival will be threatened if the present rate of pollution continues unabatedly.

“As many as 200 houseboats dump about 9,000 metric tonnes of waste into the lake each year and 15 major drains flow into the lake bringing along 18.2 tonnes of phosphorous and 25 tonnes of inorganic nitrogen nutrients. Besides, about 80,000 tonnes of silt gets deposited in the lake every year. The water is unfit for drinking and aquatic life is also under threat owing to the depletion of dissolved oxygen,” the research says.

The research says that the three main factors that have consistently endangered the lake are excessive disposal of pollutants in the form of sewage, silt deposits from erosion and physical changes to the lake’s geography.

The lake, which once covered an area of 75 sq km has, according to reports, shrunk to 12 sq km in the last two decades.

Efforts outdated, say experts
Recently, the government, in its report, had informed the High Court that Rs 759 crore had been spent on the conservation of the lake since 2002. The court observed that nothing had happened on the ground. Experts reason that conservation efforts of the authorities were “outdated”.