Situated in the Saida Kadal area, Khawaja Yarbal is a part of Nigeen Lake's backwaters. Once drinkable, the water body of Khawaja Yarbal is now contaminated and carpeted with algae.
Situated in the Saida Kadal area, Khawaja Yarbal is a part of Nigeen Lake's backwaters. Once drinkable, the water body of Khawaja Yarbal is now contaminated and carpeted with algae. Tufail Ganie for Greater Kashmir

Photo Essay: Once Pristine, Kashmir Water Bodies Are Dying

Before the 1970s, Brari Nambal had two outlets, one on the west side and the other on the north from Nallah Mar.
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Once known for its crystal clear waters, Brari Nambal in Khanyar Srinagar has become a garbage dumping site, said 45-year-old Shabir Ahmad, a local resident.
Once known for its crystal clear waters, Brari Nambal in Khanyar Srinagar has become a garbage dumping site, said 45-year-old Shabir Ahmad, a local resident. Tufail Ganie for Greater Kashmir

Brari Nambal, an ecologically important lagoon, regulates the hydrology of Dal Lake, acting as a corridor between the river Jhelum and the waters of the Dal Lake.

Before the 1970s, Brari Nambal had two outlets, one on the west side and the other on the north from Nallah Mar.

During the 1970s, Nallah Mar was earth-filled and converted into a road—severely affecting the water body’s hydrology through loss of flushing capacity.

Following a sustained campaign by Greater Kashmir highlighting the lagoon's deplorable condition, the government in 2015 formulated a comprehensive project to undertake Brari Nambal's restoration, which was termed as 'litmus test' for the administration.

However, since 2015 successive administrations have failed the test.

"It's like putting make-up on a dead-body," said Shabir Ahmed while pointing towards the hutments and footpath constructed along the Babedemb-Khanyar road on the fringes of Brari Nambal.

"It's like putting make-up on a dead-body."

Shabir Ahmed

Shabir said that even though the government has constructed a jogging path and huts along the bank, the smell emanating from the water body discourages the purpose.
Shabir said that even though the government has constructed a jogging path and huts along the bank, the smell emanating from the water body discourages the purpose. Tufail Ganie for Greater Kashmir
The clean water of Tscunt Kul, a backflow channel of world famous Dal Lake, was used for drinking and many purposes. However, from the last three decades, it's been turned into a cesspool, said 57-year-old Shakeel Ahmad.
The clean water of Tscunt Kul, a backflow channel of world famous Dal Lake, was used for drinking and many purposes. However, from the last three decades, it's been turned into a cesspool, said 57-year-old Shakeel Ahmad. Tufail Ganie for Greater Kashmir

Impressed by Chuntkul’s beauty, the India Council of Cultural Relations had organised a camp for students of 25 countries in 1960s. Owing to the natural beauty of Chuntkul and Chinar Bagh, the then Prime Minister of the erstwhile State, Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad used to encourage tourism and cultural promotional activities by participating in them.

However, after the filling of Nallah Mar canal, which snaked through the Old City, Chuntkul emerged as main outflow channel of Dal lake. In view of environmental and tourism potential, the then authorities used to undertake regular cleaning and dredging of Chuntkul.

During early 1980s, Chuntkul was gradually encroached with hutments and other concrete structures. In 2007, a demolition drive was carried out by the administration but even after 15-years, amid a climatic catastrophe, the main backchannel of Dal Lake remains unattended, unclean, and in a desperate need of treatment.

Notwithstanding the High Court order decreeing demolition of illegal structures and rehabilitation for the hutment dwellers, banks of Chuntkul remain encroached at several places in the Barbar Shah-Gaw Kadal belt.

The failure of successive regimes to clean the water body and install dustbins in the adjacent areas has further motivated many locals to dump their waste into the Tscunt Kul flowing from Bishamber Nagar and meeting river Jhelum under the Gaw Kadal bridge, Ahmed said.
The failure of successive regimes to clean the water body and install dustbins in the adjacent areas has further motivated many locals to dump their waste into the Tscunt Kul flowing from Bishamber Nagar and meeting river Jhelum under the Gaw Kadal bridge, Ahmed said.Tufail Ganie for Greater Kashmir

Tons of garbage have accumulated across Chuntkul and beneath Dalgate via-duct.

Pumping stations behind Kashmir Golf Club and Barbarshah open their mouths into the Chuntkul, further affecting the water body, turning it murky and smelly," said a resident, who identified himself as Ahmad.

"This state of the Dal Lake's main back-channel is choking the famous water body extensively which encompasses over 800 houseboats and gives life to numerous aquatic species." It's time for the administration to take the bull by the horns now," Ahmad said.

Environmentalists maintain that restoration of Chuntkul is imperative for overall health of Dal Lake. They say its conservation must be done on war-footing using sustained and scientific techniques.

Sondar Koal, a stream flowing under the Kani Kadal bridge in the old city meets river Jhelum near Tenkipora.
Sondar Koal, a stream flowing under the Kani Kadal bridge in the old city meets river Jhelum near Tenkipora.Tufail Ganie for Greater Kashmir
Once drinkable, the emanating smell from the waterbody becomes a source of several infections during the summers, said sexagenarian
Ghulam Nabi.

"Although locals litter it, but once the administration takes concrete steps to clean it, that exercise will be prevented," he said.
Once drinkable, the emanating smell from the waterbody becomes a source of several infections during the summers, said sexagenarian Ghulam Nabi. "Although locals litter it, but once the administration takes concrete steps to clean it, that exercise will be prevented," he said. Tufail Ganie for Greater Kashmir

Tufail Ganie is a trainee journalist at Greater Kashmir and is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism from the University of Kashmir, Hazratbal.

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