Dal Lake Spared: Government shelves cantilever ‘disaster’
No Road Widening On Lakeside
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, Apr 9: In a significant development, the State Government has shelved the controversial proposal of constructing a concrete cantilever in the Dal Lake along tourist hub Boulevard as part of its four-laning road project.
Greater Kashmir published a detailed report on April 5 about the Government’s proposal to construct the 2000-meter long cantilever in the eco-fragile Dal from Dalgate to Nehru Park.
Highly placed sources said the concerned departments, including the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), have refused to give no-objection certificates to the Roads and Buildings (R&B) Department which proposed the ‘disastrous’ construction.
Sources said the Government had also sought details about the proposal from the R&B Department. “After examining all aspects of the proposal, the Government decided to shelve it and stick to the original plan of undertaking road widening on the right side of Boulevard which houses mostly parking slots and some hotels,” they said.
The Chief Engineer R&B Mushtaq Ahmad Lone confirmed that now widening of the Boulevard will not be undertaken on lakeside. “We will ensure that no harm is done to Dal Lake due to road widening on the Boulevard.
Whenever we plan road widening we explore various options and construction of the cantilever was one of the proposals and we had sought comments on it from the concerned departments,” Lone told Greater Kashmir.
“Widening of existing Boulevard to four-lane status is proposed to be taken up from Dalgate (Badyari) junction to Kralsangri junction. The proposals framed and submitted in this regard envisage four-laning of the road by way of adding two lanes to the existing road on the right (hill side) while going from Dalgate towards Kralsangri,” the CE said.
He said the acquisition of land on Boulevard for the road widening will be started soon. “We are awaiting funds for the project from the Centre and work on the road widening will be launched when we receive them,” he added.
The proposal to undertake road widening from the Boulevard to Kralsangri was approved by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on August 2 last year during a high-level meeting. The CM had also approved Rs 60 crores for the project and directed the concerned department to start the project on war-footing. However, sources said the concerned department had modified the plan to save the prized properties of some highly influential hoteliers who have connections in the State Government and the Centre.
The controversial proposal had evoked stiff resistance from environmentalists and main opposition party PDP. While the environmentalists termed the cantilever proposal as an environmental catastrophe in the making for Dal, PDP had accused the R&B Department of coming up with a “virtual bombshell that could be treated as a criminal act in any modern society.” The proposal was also strongly opposed on popular social networking site Facebook.
“I think our engineers need to stand up and reject the idea of cantilever construction at first stage, otherwise we tomorrow will repent what we have done to Dal Lake,” wrote Advocate and environmentalist Nadeem Qadri on his Facebook wall.
Haji Abdul Majid Butt, a geoscientist, wrote that any civil engineering work is bound to damage clean waters. “And muck so stored on Dal base shall close the tiny spores where from water oozes in numerous springs. Instead of reviving Dal for tourism they shall kill it permanently. Hydrology shall suffer in a big way,” he wrote.
“Going for widening toward the lake side whether by way of cantilevers of whatever will be a catastrophe. Boulevard should be widened from the right side. I think there is a very powerful business lobby working against that to save their land and properties from acquisition. Civil society should resist such moves,” wrote Maqsood Shahdad, a retired engineer.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 9 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 9 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 10 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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