A Rs 38-crore proposal for construction of a road through interior Srinagar aimed at conserving the famous Dal Lake has been submitted to the Jammu and Kashmir government.
"We have submitted a detailed project report at an estimated cost of Rs 38 crore for construction of the Western Foreshore Road to the state government," Abdul Hafeez Masoodi, Vice Chairman of Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, said.
The proposed road — a length of 3.5 km from Kohnakhan in Dalgate area to Saida Kadal bridge — "can be the single biggest step towards saving the Dal Lake", Masoodi said.
He said the road will serve multiple purposes including demarcating the western boundary of the Dal Lake, a star attraction for tourists visiting Kashmir.
"The road will fix the western boundary of the lake, put an end to encroachments and also provide an alternative road for travel through the city. Combined with the Boulevard road (on the eastern side), we will have a ring road around the lake which shall make it more attractive for the tourists," Masoodi said.
He said although the road project was approved earlier, progress could not be made due to various factors including problems in land acquisition.
He said the authority has roped in National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) for carrying out an environmental impact assessment of the project and four-laning of the Boulevard road.
Asked about the steps taken by the authority to stop the encroachments and illegal constructions with the area of Dal Lake, Masoodi said it has been actively dealing with this threat to the lake.
"We have demolished 75 structures and removed encroachments in the past six months. So far, we have carried out 56 demolition drives and it is an ongoing process," he said.
As part of the efforts to conserve and protect the Dal Lake, the Centre and state governments have launched several schemes and projects over the past decade. It includes shifting nearly 10,000 families which live inside or around the Lake to a colony being established at Rakh-e-Aarath in the outskirts of the city.
"So far, we have shifted 2,200 families. Allocation of funds is very important for speeding up the moving of the families from Dal Lake to other designated places," Masoodi said.
He did not agree that the health of lake and its water quality have deteriorated too much. "Open water expanse, the areas around the Boulevard and Northern Foreshore Road, are clean but it is bad near the inhabited areas and wherever the water is stagnant," he said.
According to Masoodi, the physical and chemical analysis of the lake water was done every month as made mandatory by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, which is monitoring the conservation efforts.