Raw sewage, land encroachment and years of neglect have been threatening the survival of the Dal lake in Kashmir where the idyllic stillness of its waters and beautiful houseboats have been drawing for tourists for years.
However, with militant violence at its lowest ever level since the revolt started in 1989, authorities say they can finally focus on saving Dal Lake with a multi-million dollar cleanup that could see the mass removal of some 60,000 people living off its waters.
Environmental perils the lake faces:
Thousands of tones of sewage spew into the lake, resulting in excessively high levels of toxic metals and choking the lake and its aquatic life of oxygen. Tests of water samples showed arsenic levels were almost 1,000 times above permissible levels. People drink this very water and feed on fish from these waters.
The lake’s size has been halved in a few decades, to some 13 square km (five square miles), due to farming land encroachment.
Who is to blame?
A slack administration as well as families sustaining on the lake but not sustaining the lake. They are the one’s responsible for dumping rubbish, sewage and waste and creating landfills of mud and weed in the waters for farming land and floating gardens.
$80 million of federal funds are to be used to relocate 58 settlements around the lake to a 1,000 acre site a few miles inland. The first 300 families could be moved by the end of the year. However, many lake dwellers, some of whom have been there for decades, distrust the relocation proposal.
While some like Wangnoo press to get it preserved as UNESCO World Heritage site others have known no life other than the one on the lake. Instead of moving the people they should be trained to protect and save the lake.