Really a clean D(e)al?

by Mareaya Fayaz 

The Lake Conservation and Management Authority has talked about dredging at the Dal
Lake in two shifts to clean it up for the G-20 visitors and tourists. But the truth is, unless a
scientific waste management program is taken up around Dal Lake seriously, it won’t really be clean.

IN the face of the G-20 meet in Srinagar, the Dal Lake is being spruced up with the intention of presenting it as a major tourist attraction. Recently, the Lake Conservation and Management Authority (LCMA) has said that dredging machines are going to be working in two shifts to keep the Dal Lake clean for G-20 visitors and tourists. Comprehending and breaking down what is happening is that in order to avoid the criticism around the polluted Dal Lake which is not a pleasant sight to watch, the authority is putting in more efforts to clean it especially at the areas around the Boulevard Road and the area around
SKICC to show that Dal is indeed clean and free from pollution.

* The conservation program
Under its ‘Lake Conservation Program’, the J&K Lake Conservation and Management Authority began dredging the Dal Lake’s northern shoreline back in December of 2022. Phase I of the project began with the Department of LCMA dredging the lakeshore in the Laam area for approximately two kilometres along the road, using a departmental
dredger and a crawl cat dredger to attain an approximate average depth of 1.5 metres. The
region was the first dredged in order to crush and stop the abnormal development of weed and azolla formation. The first phase's coverage stretch is from the NPL Bund to Kral Sangri. The lake in this region currently has an average depth of less than two feet, which is the only factor contributing to the production of azolla, or red bloom, as a result of water stagnation. The LCMA began dredging with a plan to restore 13 navigation channels in Dal Lake. The LCMA authority is solely responsible for keeping the lakes clean. For this, they use mechanical and labour force.

Selective cleaning?
This program may have been started enthusiastically by the authorities concerned but
they still haven’t been able to clean up Dal for real. The whole focus of the authorities remains along the Fore Shore road, totally ignoring the condition Dal along Babadem or along the areas where Sewage Treatment Plants are established. Ajaz Rasool, Hydraulic Engineering Expert and Environmentalist, says “The ingress of raw sewage from the western shoreline congested city habitat peripherals still continues and 40 % of raw sewage
and waste water continues to outfall in the Dal Lake including the quantity that flows from more than 50 island habitats within the Lake and from houseboats mooring in Dal Lake. This provides nutrients for prolific weed growth and necessitates selective de-weeding as a nutrient export mechanism till all ingress of sewage is checked. This time, it’s is being done on the Boulevard- Nishat shoreline to also give a sense of clean, clear water expanse for the G-20 meet at Srinagar; but as always, we have created a beautiful Dal Lake as
mentioned above and an ugly Dal Lake from Dal Gate to Ashia Bagh via Rainawari interiors. This is unfortunate. Our aim should be to keep the entire lake as a clean aquatic body rather than selectively for occasions that creep up in time. Raja Muzaffar Bhat, another activist that KC spoke to, says: “I have been shouting and writing again and again on the issues of environmental pollution in Jammu and Kashmir. I have filed multiple RTIs
for protection of our environment but it’s “falling on deaf ears”. Unless you take scientific waste management around Dal Lake seriously, it won’t work. Dal Lake is not just Nehru Park or Fore Shore road, it’s a huge area which is spread through mohallas like Sofipora, Kanikachi, Choudhary Bagh and Jogi Lankar and which, I tell you, is a complete mess because people around those areas throw all the liquid and solid waste in
Dal Lake. There are three STPs (Sewage Treatment Plants) across Dal Lake, but they have
not been operating properly. Every year the machines in the STP have to undergo a checking process which I don’t believe, is being undertaken.
The sewage from Hazratbal STP is taken in a tanker and gets dumped near Shalimar Fore Shore road. Again, the STP at Bran Nishat is not working properly. Then again, let’s take the houseboats. All the faecal matter from the houseboats is dumped into the Dal Lake. All the mohallas around Dal Lake, all the waste from households, gets dumped in the Dal Lake. So the authorities need to undertake scientific management programs for treatment of liquid waste, treatment of solid waste and the plastic waste – which should be collected
from each household in a segregated manner, should be processed and treated properly
according to the Municipal Solid Waste Rules 2016. Unless you do that, the lake will not be
clean. It doesn’t matter if you do dredging two or three times; it’s not going to change the fact that Dal Lake is not clean”.

He also states that the LCMA should not be the only authority responsible for conservation of lakes but in fact the Srinagar Municipal Authority should also be held responsible for collecting the solid waste from habitations around the Dal Lake especially from the house boats. On the face of it, the authorities might show the tourists and G-20 visitors that our lake is clean but it is not exactly the whole truth. Unless the lake is really clean, unless there is proper management and treatment of waste in and around Dal Lake and the lake is treated like it should be, it will just present a pretty face at places but not be really


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