Accountability Missing In Dal Cleaning Works


SRINAGAR — The war of words between Srinagar’s Mayor and Deputy Mayor over the cleaning work on the  Dal Lake has brought into focus the lack of accountability in spending of funds for cleaning the lake.

On 23 December Deputy Mayor Sheikh Mohammad Imran tweeted that he had begun a 21-day cleaning drive of the lake along with members of the public, the municipal corporation, the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority and the army.

Responding to a news report on the drive to clean Dal Lake Mayor SMC Junaid Mattu said, “SMC has not entered into any collaborative operation with the Army for any cleaning, de-weeding operations in Dal.”

Amid the row, it seems that “there has been huge wastage of money.” “Even government is now considering framing of a fresh detailed project report in consultation with experts for the conservation of Dal Lake. The framing of new DPR is under consideration as there has been rarely any improvement in the lake despite spending hundreds of crores over the years,” an official of Housing and Urban Development department said.

The official said that the Pollution Control Board has also written to the government that a fresh DPR shall be framed for preservation of Dal Lake.

“There are three major projects for which new DPR may be framed in consultation with experts. The government is considering to frame a comprehensive DPR so that its implementation achieves desired results,” the official said.

For the last 16 years, Rs 759 crores have been spent on conservation of Dal Lake. From Rs 759 crore, Rs 400.96 crores has  been allocated by the Central government for conservation of the Dal Lake, while Rs 359.93 crores have been spent so far.

Similarly, the sources said, the Rs 300 crore package for the conservation of the lake, allocated under PM’s Developmental Package (PMDP) in 2015, has met the same fate.

Of these Rs 300 crore, Rs 50 crore were meant for cleaning of the lake and the remaining Rs 250 crore for rehabilitation of people living inside Dal to other places.

Recently, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh further announced Rs 350 crore for the preservation of Dal Lake.

Bashir Ahmad, 45, a resident of Dal Lake, blames the government over deteriorating condition of the lake. “If some people do anything wrong that does not mean that law enforcing agencies will watch as mute spectators. The reality is government officials and the politicians are main culprits behind polluting the lake. Big hotels, guest houses, and residential accommodations have been raised in and round the lake over the years. Who allowed these constructions?” he asked.

He said that authorities only clean a portion of Dal Lake around the SKICC. “When one goes into the interiors of the lake, you will find how the famous lake is turning into a swamp,” he added.

The High Court has also said that crores of rupees have been spent on Dal and no “fruitful results” have come out.

“Therefore, immediate measures are necessary before the situation is rendered hopeless. It is therefore, necessary to have an expert committee with most importantly the vision and the experience of having undertaken issues which involve wide spectrum, multi-dimensional assessment, evaluation and resolution,” the court observed.

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