Govt fails in litmus test to conserve Brari Nambal
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Govt fails in litmus test to conserve Brari Nambal

Raising question marks over the Government’s much-hyped plan to restore glory of Brari Nambal lagoon in Shaher-e-Khaas, the conservation project for the lagoon is yet to take off.

Raising question marks over the Government's much-hyped plan to restore glory of Brari Nambal lagoon in Shaher-e-Khaas, the conservation project for the lagoon is yet to take off. 

Restoration of Brari Nambal is considered to be ecologically important as it helps to regulate hydrology of Dal by releasing its surplus waters into river Jhelum via a conduit at Fateh Kadal area.

The lagoon is on the verge of extinction due to failure of government to take measures for its conservation. Piles of garbage, obnoxious weeds coupled with extensive encroachments from Baba Demb and Fateh Kadal side have severely affected fragile eco-system of the lagoon.  

With previous regimes failing to conserve Brari Nambal, restoring glory of the lagoon has emerged as a litmus test for the Government. 

To assess the Brari Nambal's deteriorating condition, the Minister for Roads and Buildings, Gardens, Parks and Floriculture, Muhammad Altaf Bukhari visited the lagoon on June 14. He had directed the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) to prepare a comprehensive project within a month for restoration of the lagoon.

"We are committed to restore the glory of the lagoon. Before starting the conservation works, I have requested Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Sahib to visit the lagoon. The CM is out of station and on return he will make spot assessment of the lagoon," Bukhari had told Greater Kashmir on July 27.  Since then, the Chief Minister twice toured the Old City, however he did not visit the lagoon. 

After sustained campaign by Greater Kashmir highlighting deplorable condition of the lagoon, the Government earlier this year had formulated a comprehensive project to undertake restoration of the lagoon. 

Estimated at Rs 70.52 crore, the project includes land acquisition, dredging, cleaning and shoreline development of the lagoon. "Government is yet to accord sanction to the project," said a senior official of LAWDA.    

Officials said there are 176 kanals of proprietary land in the lagoon. The land composition comprises 50 kanals of land mass including agricultural land and 126 kanals of watery land. 

A separate restoration plan of Brari Nambal formulated by the Jammu and Kashmir Bank this year is also pending with the Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC). The expenditure for the project was to be made by the J&K Bank under its corporate social responsibility initiative. The amount was to be incurred over a period of 2-3 years depending upon the scope of work. 

Besides conservation of the lagoon, the J&K Bank proposed to construct Rose Garden, English Garden, Bogon Velia Garden, Topeyari Garden, French Garden and Lilly Garden in it. It also proposed a children's play area, water body with fountains, amphitheatre, walking and jogging tracks, boating and adventure zone court. 

"We have invited Expression of Interest for consultancy of the project. We have received offers from several firms and our experts are evaluating them," said Commissioner SMC Showkat Zargar.  

Officials said LAWDA had several years ago submitted a separate project of Rs 65 crore for acquiring land and Rs 90 crore for cleaning Brari Nambal to Government. "But it was shelved due to paucity of funds," they said.

The Government in 2013 had ordered short term conservation measures including immediate cleaning, dredging, expansion and beautification. However, due to paucity of funds, the LAWDA and allied departments failed to launch conservation measures.

"It is clear that Government is non-serious to restore the Brari Nambal. Belying tall claims, Government has failed to even approve conservation projects for the lagoon. Inordinate delay by the Government in conservation of this vital lagoon is illogical and will be detrimental to the water body," said noted environmentalist Ajaz Rasool.

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