Saving Dal Lake

Dal, the reputed lake in Srinagar, and once considered the beauty of the city has become the hapless victim of human vandalising and greed. This lake is steeped in legend connected with the drying up of the huge ocean of water called Satisar in Hindu mythology. Hari Parbat standing close to the Dal has its own history connected with the Hindu and Muslim shrines and the ramparts built under the orders of the Mughal ruler Akbar after he conquered Kashmir. Besides this entire historical fund, the Dal is a prime location for the tourists and lovers of water sports. Amazingly, people living along the banks of old Dal has created small patches of land by filling the water and on these patches vegetables were grown in abundance. Since the lake had the potential to provide economic opening, smart people encroached on the banks pushing the water inside the lake and then residential structures came up in due course of time. This spelt disaster for the Dal the consequences of which we are facing now.
Large scale encroachment of Dal, dumping of human excreta coming from large number of house boats on the Dal and consequential growth of huge weed all contributed to gradual dilapidation and pollution of the Dal. The lake began to shrink, its water became extensively contaminated and weed covered large water surface of the lake. It lost its charm as a picnic spot. Awaking to the serious threat to the very existence of the Dal and its repercussions on the environment of the city of Srinagar, the State Government long back constituted Lakes and Water Development Authority (LAWDA) with the specific objective of vacating illegal encroachment, removing weed, keeping the water clean, ordering proper and scientific disposal of sewage from house boats and all other works that contributed to the beauty and restoration of pristine purity of the Dal. Enormous funds were allocated by the Central Government for cleaning and preservation of the lake. Unfortunately, it was revealed after some time that there was large scale corruption in LAWDA and a good chunk of allocated funds went to the pockets of the functionaries. A court case was filed and the State High Court took certain measures to stem the rot.
More recently the State High Court has been  hearing a public interest litigation demanding that the court ensure that the vacated encroachments are not reversed and vested interests do not repeat the sordid story of illegally encroaching on the land of the Dal. In the course of hearing of the case the Divisional Bench of the High Court invoked the conscience of the citizens to the need of contributing actively towards the preservation of the lake as a valuable gift of nature. It said that LAWDA should send a signal for public at large that any kind of encroachment in and around the lake will not be tolerated emphasizing that safeguarding of Dal lake from encroachments is collective responsibility of all. The court instructed that the officers/officials of the LAWDA under the leadership of present VC shall create an atmosphere so as to flash a strong signal that the authorities, officials of LAWDA will not hesitate in razing all illegal encroachments in any form.  The point is the LAWDA shall have to dispel impression among the masses that they are not party to the encroachments.

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