Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra has given a dressing down to officials for not doing enough to save the Dal Lake, which has seen a gradual decay over the years. He has asked these officials to clean up the water body soon.

Governor Vohra admitted that cleaning the Dal has emerged as a huge challenge for his administration. Following a series of meetings which culminated on Friday, he devised a plan to address issues plaguing the famous lake.

The Governor held meetings with Vice-Admiral S.K. Jha and Rajesh Tripathi, chairman and managing director (CMD) of the Dredging Corporation of India, both of whom presented their assessment. Vohra has decided to contact chief of the Navy to secure the Navy’s assistance for the comprehensive bathymetric survey of the Dal and the Nigeen Lakes. This would help the government to establish a benchmark database for the extent of dredging required.

The Raj Bhawan has decided to appoint the Dredging Corporation of India as the nodal consulting agency to formulate a to-date detailed project report which focuses on dredging-identified areas of the land masses in the interiors of the Dal Lake. The decision was taken after many environmentalists complained land masses have been created within the lake to develop colonies.

Experts have also cautioned the government about the shrinking size of the Dal Lake and they have cited how houses and shops were being erected in the Dal and Nigeen. “From original area of 22 sq km, this it has shrinked to 9 sq km. I think the Governor is serious about saving this water body from further erosion and pollution,” said Bashir Ahmad, a local NGO member who is working for cleaning of water bodies of the Kashmir Valley.

Successive governments have neglected the health of the world famous Dal Lake. “For the sake of vote-bank politics, new colonies were allowed to be developed inside the lake and we were helpless,” said Ajaz Hussain, a retired executive engineer who had supervised the Dal Project in the mid 1980s. “During the time of the PDP-BJP coalition government, new colonies were allowed to be developed and hundreds of new houses and shops were erected on both sides of the road going from Khanyar upto Hazratbal,” said a senior official of Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) while talking to this newspaper. He said that he had briefed the Governor many times about how the Dal Lake was dying a slow death with LAWDA officials only trying to de-weed it at Boulevard to give an impression that they are working on it.



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