Frozen Dal Lake Makes Life Harder for Inhabitants

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KO Photo: Abid Bhat

Srinagar: The frozen Dal Lake has made life harder for inhabitants of the famed water body in Srinagar.

The Dal Lake has frozen several times in the past during chilly winters. However, this year, it has restricted tourists to roam in the Dal Lake. Life of those dependent on water transport has become equally very difficult.

“A lot of tourists have come here to see snowfall. Due to the frozen lake, we are not able to row boats. Many tourists feel disappointed after not taking a Shikara ride due to the frozen lake,” Mohammad Yusuf, a Shikara owner said.

However, people believe that things would get better in the coming days when frozen water starts melting due to increase in temperature.

More than 40,000 people live on Dal Lake including Shikara owners, houseboat owners, vegetable growers, businessmen dealing with handicrafts, and fisherfolk. Tourism, agriculture, and fishing form the backbone of the economy on the lake.

There are more than 4500 registered Shikaras owners. However, at present less than 800 are associated with it as others have switched to other jobs due to decline of tourist arrivals post August 2019.

“We are entirely dependent on tourism. Our sector was badly hit post abrogation of Article 370, then COVID pandemic and now we have been affected due to frozen lake,” he added.

Kashmir has been under intense cold since the second week of January. Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir has recorded a low of minus 8.8 degrees celsius, which was the coldest temperature in 30 years.

Last week, Javid Ahmad, 40, an inhabitant of the lake had to purchase home necessities from the market, which is a kilometer away from his home. Normally, it would take him 15 minutes to reach there on the boat.

“It took me more than two hours to break the ice and then to reach the market. This winter has been the hardest ever for us in the last three decades due to freezing of the lake. Not only our livelihood has been hit, we are even not able to buy things,” Ahmad said, who deals with Kashmiri handicrafts.

Similarly, vegetable growers would sell their produce at the floating vegetable market on the Dal Lake early in the morning. However, these days they are finding it difficult to reach to vegetable gardens and then sell in the market.

Vegetables including tomatoes, carrot, turnips and Nadru (Lotus root) traded in this floating market are supplied to Srinagar and many towns across the Kashmir valley.

Ghulam Mohammad, a 55-year-old fisherman, would catch three kilogram of fish each day. However, he said for the last 10 days since the lake was frozen, he caught less than 12 kilogram of fish. “When we are not able to roam around the lake how can we catch the fish? To catch fish, we have to break ice for hours,” he said.

There are also photographs of the frozen Dal Lake with selfie taking tourists and locals are trending on social media.

Meanwhile, authorities have issued an advisory asking people not to roam around on the frozen waters of the lake. The Srinagar district administration in an advisory asked people not to walk or play on the frozen parts of the Dal Lake. “We have clearly asked the people not to venture out on the frozen parts of Dal Lake as there is melting of the frozen parts happening. This can be dangerous. We have deployed quick reaction teams at the lake,” said Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary. (KINS)

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