Failure of Dal cleaning project is perhaps the biggest scandal of its nature in the State. This can easily be termed as major setback to pollution control in the State. Dal project is the scandal of scandals in the sense that nobody is seriously interested in finding out where the enormous monies have gone that were released by the Central Government in the name of the project. The project was launched with great fanfare and drum beating as is the usual practice but what happened to it at the end of the day remains the unanswered question.
It is not to be presumed that the civil society did not feel concerned about the increasing pollution of the waters of the Dal and the parts of the lake turning into cesspool. Most of the people lamented the loss of once a beautiful and imposing lake of Srinagar. A PIL was filed and the case has remained before the court since long time. The court, during the course of hearing has issued various instructions to the concerned authorities in the State focused on cleaning the Dal and protecting it from further pollution and encroachment by the land grabbers. In recent hearing the court has expressed its displeasure and remarked that so much of paper work has been done on the case and so many directives, instructions, suggestions and reports have been documented that the copious documentation has become a detailed book. But these instructions have remained confined to the files only. Court observed that since 2003 about Rs 1200 crore have already been released by Government of India and asked where the money had gone as no improvement has taken place. The court has said that the State has failed to protect the lake from degradation. The question is why has it become difficult for the State to bring the project to successful completion? At no stage the Vision Document has been adhered to and at no stage instructions have been observed in letter and in spirit. The worst is that there is absence of accountability and the buck is passed on from one agency to another. Court observed that despite the orders that no construction will be made on encroached land of the lake, there are still reports that some encroachments have taken place and the authorities have not taken cognizance of this defiance.
At one time it was reported that about seventeen thousand families would be dislodged from their homes once the full implementation of the Vision Document takes place. The Vice Chairman of LAWDA, who had been summoned by the court and was present on the day of hearing, disclosed that 2000 plots of land had been arranged at Rakh-Arth in Bemina area which is not far away from the main Srinagar city. However, he did not say when the new colony for the displaced families would be made available. There are reports that most of the Dal displaced families have expressed reservations about the claim that the Government will actually rehabilitate the affected families or not.