Srinagar, Oct 9: Impressed by efforts of the Jammu and Kashmir Government to check growth of weeds in Dal Lake, Chandigarh administration has started a process to adopt the state-of-the-art mechanism for saving Sukhna Lake in the Union Territory which has been marred by heavy weed infestation.
The rain-fed Sukhna Lake is batting with heavy weed infestation reducing its area from 228 hectares to 148 hectares in past nearly six decades. The unbridled growth of weeds has drastically affected the lake's eco-system and raised its bed. Sukhna was formed by construction of a dam on the Sukhna Choe in 1958, a seasonal stream flowing down the Shivalik. However, in absence of any conservation measures, the lake's silted part has been converted into what is now called the Sukhna Lake Reserve Forest.
Officials said after the Chandigarh administration failed to check growth of weeds in Sukhna Lake, the former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai who frequently visited Kashmir in past few years, suggested to seek help from the Jammu and Kashmir Lakes and Waterways Development Authority which has been comparatively successful to check weeds in Dal Lake.
Acting on the Court orders, the Chandigarh administration constituted a committee headed by Conservator of Forests and Wildlife Warden, Santosh Kumar, for conservation of Sukhna Lake.
Recently, a two member team led by Santosh Kumar made an on-the-spot assessment of the de-weeding works in the Dal Lake.
"Like Sukhna, Dal Lake has also been facing weed infestation. However, due to sustained de-weeding measures, the LAWDA has to a large extent managed to control the unbridled growth of weeds," Santosh Kumar, who is also Director Environment Chandigarh, told Greater Kashmir.
Earlier this year, the LAWDA procured two state-of-the-art harvesters from US from the US-based Aquarius Systems— the oldest manufacturer of surface water management equipments in the world. The machines known as Aquatic Plant Harvesters are barge-mounted machines designed to cut and collect aquatic vegetation including weeds from the water bodies. On the Court orders, the LAWDA last year procured two Water Master Classic III machines and three Truxors from Finland and Switzerland.
"We have studied all the technicalities including cost and efficiency of the machines and other methods adopted by LAWDA for checking the weeds. We will be submitting a comprehensive report to the Chandigarh administration about the feasibility of adoption of LAWDA's model for conservation of Sukhna," Kumar said.
In May this year, the Government of Rajasthan adopted Dal Lake as a model for conservation of its lakes which are confronted with multiple problems including pollution and siltation.
On the recommendation by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, the Rajasthan Urban Infrastructure Finance and Development Corporation Limited (RUIFDCO) had deputed a six-member team to Srinagar to "learn about the conservation measures of Dal Lake."
The feedback by the team has been be incorporated in restoration of five lakes in Rajasthan under the National Lake Conservation Program, besides the preparation of the Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for conservation of 12 other water bodies in the desert-state.
The vice-chairperson of LAWDA, Irfan Yasin, says it is a matter of pride for Jammu and Kashmir that other states are adopting its measures for conservation of their water bodies.
"It should serve as an eye-opener for those who criticize our efforts for Dal conservation. Despite challenges, we are taking every measure to restore Dal. We are ready to share our expertise with any State for conservation of water bodies," Yasin told Greater Kashmir.