Every country, every city follows rituals to keep certain traditions alive. In Africa, a single chicken is roasted every weekend to feed a family of 11 and the Spanish squelch tomatoes as a celebration. In Kashmir, people flock to the Dal Lake every Sunday, perhaps to enjoy the view and unwind, or maybe to roar ahead of all the stress. Spending time at the Dal is a way of life. However, as more boards urging people to Save Dal are put up, all flocks grow increasingly skeptical. The path is endlessly lined with heaps of weed, the Dargah smells like a nightmare and the water seems to be ebbing away into nothingness. Vice President of the Lakes and Waterworks Development Authority, Irfan Yasin, clears a few myths surrounding the Dal.
People at large have this idea that not much is being done by the government, says Yasin But the amount of work that has been completed in the past 10 to 20 years is enormous and has been acclaimed on a national level. We want to tell people that their perceptions are not correct by showing facts from authoritative scientific bodies.
As asserted by Yasin, The New England Research Institutes (NERI) have conducted four different evaluative studies on as many as 46 samples from 10 different streams flowing into the Dal. Results have shown that nearly 72 percent of the samples boast of good quality water and 5 percent of the samples consist of bad water. Further, while NERI has found that 80 percent of the lake comprises good water, they have also identified areas such as Rainawari where the authorities must work to replenish resources. Reports have also underlined that all resource depletion and eutrophic damages are restricted to 20 percent of the lake.
Unfortunately, a common sight on the shore is of the relentless skeptic eating away at the corn cob with a cola in the other hand, and a few seconds later both the cob and the crushed plastic chucked into the water. Between the hotels funneling their waste in and the boatmen complaining about the lack of fish, LAWDA is working positively in both directions. Recently, a project was set up by IIT Rourkee which helped restore 56 streams to health. The authorities are also working on fish budgeting to bring some equilibrium between the depleting 25 percent of Kashmiri fish and the highly territorial Mirror Carp which has encompassed 85 percent of all fish.
Despite the fact that cleaners are pulling out a truckload and a half of solid waste every day, Yasin remains determinedly hopeful. I want to reassure the people that this lake is going to survive for the next 150 years without intervention and another 300 years with intervention. Sometimes people compare the lake with a swimming pool, expecting it to be crystal clear when the weed is actually good for the lake. The authority is also in direct contact with the encroachers, although often people dont like us to have that power.
In the effort to raise awareness amongst both civilians and tourists, LAWDA has now collaborated with event management group Funtoosh to organize what is to be known as the Blue Campaign. Funtoosh aims to mobilize school and college communities and help tourists understand and tackle the Dal Dilemma.
The Story was published in the Kashmir Observer’s ‘YOUNG KASHMIR’ – Kashmir’s first Supplement for young adults and teens
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