J&K Governor seeks Navy’s assistance to save Dal Lake

Assessments show that the size of the water body has come down by half

Alarmed over the fast-shrinking Dal Lake, Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra approached Navy chief Sunil Lanba on Thursday seeking help to save the water body, a major tourist attraction of the State.

A Raj Bhawan spokesperson said the Governor spoke to Admiral Lanba, “seeking his help in identifying experts who could undertake a benchmark survey of the Dal Lake and the Wular Lake.”

Rajesh Tripathi, chairman and managing director of the Dredging Corporation of India (DCI), and retired vice-admiral S.K. Jha, a former chief hydrographer, in their latest [but separate] assessments conducted on July 30/31 had reported that the size of the Dal Lake had come down from 22 sq.km. to about 10 sq.km.

The report cautioned that the water quality of the lake had deteriorated due to intense pollution caused by untreated sewage and solid waste released into the water body.

Diminishing inflow

“Encroachments of water channels and clogging have diminished the circulation and inflows into the lake, leading to the extensive growth of hyacinth,” the report said. It added that the depth of the lake had come down at many places and its total capacity had gone down to 40%. “The continuing night soil discharge from the 800 to 900 houseboats is causing extreme pollution,” it cautioned.

Mr. Vohra, who has held meetings with the Navy chief, said the efforts of the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority to de-weed the lake must continue.

The Raj Bhawan spokesperson said Mr. Vohra had asked the Navy chief for a comprehensive bathymetric survey (measuring depth and mapping underwater features) of the Dal-Nageen water body to establish a benchmark database for deciding on the extent of dredging that needs to be carried out.

The Governor has appointed the Dredging Corporation as the nodal consulting agency to formulate a plan for dredging parts of the land masses in the interiors of the lake. The possibility of installing holding tanks and bio-digesters to make sure that houseboats do not discharge sewage will also be examined.

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