Pollution of the waters of Dal by making it a dumping ground for the garbage and refuse has resulted in profuse growth of weed in the otherwise pure waters of the Dal. The prestigious water body in the heart of the city of Srinagar and also commanding a panoramic view from the heights of the Shankaracharya and Hari Parbat hillocks besides those of the Harmukh and Zabarwan mountains, once considered the glory of Kashmir, became repugnant to the visitors when it turned into a vast body of ugly weeds and stinking waters one would abhor. Very late, authorities woke up to the deterioration caused to the environs of the city and the negative impact on Kashmir tourism.
Then there was a time when the realization and the sense of loss both aesthetic and financial compelled authorities to look for remedial course and thus came into being the Lakes and Water Bodies Development Authority (LAWDA) with the agenda of cleaning and de-weeding the Dal and restoring it to its pristine purity. ADB provided funding besides what usually is offered by the Union government. Huge machines were brought, manpower engaged, structure raised, officers and officials with high salaries and incentives as provided by the ADB rules were provided. The net result of many years of work and investment was the big scam and the court case which took years to go on probing and investigating and not coming to any final solution. The Dal stood where it was though some punitive measures were taken of suspending some officers or functionaries of lower rung. The expectation that Dal would be de-weeded and restored to its purity remained a dream. The truth is that after coming know that LAWDA had let down the Government and the people of Kashmir by succumbing to material greed, the Government soft pedalled on the issue perhaps owing to political pressures by the vested interest.
On October 2 last, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti paid official visit to Dal Lake. On seeing the condition of the lake, its weed infested waters and the polluted environs she became concerned about this depressing scene. She is very much interested in developing tourist industry of the State and particularly of Kashmir but the sight of the degraded lake pained her and she issued a slew of instructions to the concerned aiming at de-weeding the waters, cleaning it and improving tourist recreational incentives to the famous lake. This was a welcome step and the authorities got a wink that they are going to be held accountable for any lapse. In continuation of her previous visit in which she had said that she would be personally monitoring the progress of cleaning the Dal, she recently paid another visit from Dalgate to Nishat and made several enquiries from the officers accompanying her. She said that she would be personally monitoring the progress and would hold concerned functionaries responsible for any lapse. During this visit she was given detailed information of the exercise underway to clean the waters and the progress that had been made like dividing the Dal in sectors for de-weeding. One of the attractive improvements that the department is planning is that of making a five kilometre long water-lily field to stimulate the growth of beautiful water lily (pamposh in Kashmiri) hitherto growing in only a small sector. This field can become productive only if the weed is removed and no garbage and filth is deposited in the waters. Once when the five kilometre long stretch of Dal bank flourishes with lilies, it will really become a beautiful and attractive destination for the tourists and the local people.
Chief Minister’s initiative is highly appreciable as it will become a model for revival of all other water bodies in Kashmir to their pristine purity. We are confident that intermittent field visits of the Chief Minister will prove great catalyst to the rebirth of beautiful and impressive Dal Lake of Srinagar.