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Dal Lake: Slowly dying

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
March 15, 2006 20:31 IST
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For decades now, the famous Dal Lake in Kashmir has been 'slowly dying an unsung death'.

Its waters have become murky and unfit for drinking and bathing due the discharge of effluents from houseboats, hotels, business establishments, residential houses and even government offices located all around it.

For those who still remember scenes from the Bollywood blockbusters of 1960s and 70s that were filmed on the once glistening waters of this lake or inside the houseboats moored to the lake's banks, it is a sad experience to revisit the lake that now literally 'stinks' because of the accumulated poisons inside.

Most of the wonderful flora and fauna living in the fragile ecology of the lake are also dying and people who eat the fish caught in the lake's waters have been complaining of allergies and indigestion.

After the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, a statutory body created by an act of the state legislature to protect the many lakes and rivers in the state from environmental degradation, failed to reverse the pitiable condition of the Dal Lake, the state high court has intervened to save this glorious heritage of Kashmir.

Over 300 constructions, that include hotels, restaurants, the multi-crore Royal Spring Golf Course, another international conference complex, several government offices and residential houses have been put on demolition notice by the LAWDA following directions from the high court.

The state high court recently showed keen interest in preservation of the Dal Lake whose waters have been polluted to dangerous levels that have made them unfit for drinking and even bathing.

"We have so far demolished 850 constructions and felled 80,000 trees inside and around the lake to clear the lake's natural areas. We are also realigning the 1,200 registered houseboats inside the lake and we would be providing them with septic tanks that will take care of the pollutants," Tanveer Jahan, vice chairman of the LAWDA said in Srinagar.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar