Failure of authorities to take measures for conservation of Chuntkul, the main outflow channel of Dal Lake, has pushed it on the verge of extinction.
Chuntkul acts as a catalyst in maintaining the water budget of Dal Lake's ecosystem. The waters of the lake flows through the channel into river Jhelum via Ram Munshi Bagh and Gaw Kadal outlets.
In absence of deweeding or cleaning operation, the channel has been engulfed by weeds. "Due to official apathy, Chuntkul looks like a garden with weeds engulfing its major portions," said Abdul Hamid, a commuter pointing towards green vegetative cover on a large expanse of the channel near Gaw Kadal bridge.
Locals said LAWDA has never undertaken major deweeding operation in Chuntkul. "Authorities have been mostly concentrating on Dal lake and neglecting the conservation of its outflow channels," they said.
Despite passing of six years since the viaduct over Chuntkul was constructed, authorities have failed to clear leftover construction material near its foundation. "This hampers smooth flow of water in Chuntkul and gives it an ugly look," Tariq Patloo of 'Mission Dal Lake', a voluntary environmental group.
Chuntkul also houses famous tourist spot Chinar Bagh popularly known as Boene Bagh. Though the government removed encroachments in the Chuntkul from Dalgate to Fakr-e-Kashmir bridge, however shanties till Gaw Kadal bridge are yet to be removed.
Former chairman of Houseboat Owners Association, Muhammad Azim Tuman said till few decades ago, Chinar Bagh was a major attraction from foreign tourists due to its serene environment and towering Chinars.
"The Chinar Bagh was made by Maharaja and developed as a tourist spot by British. Ironically, due to official apathy, Chuntkul and Chinar Bagh gradually lost glory," Tuman said.
Environmentalists maintain that restoration of Chuntkul is imperative for conservation of Dal Lake. "If Chuntkul is choked, it will be detrimental for Dal lake. The concerned authorities should take immediate measures for restoration of the water channel," they said.
Executive engineer LAWDA Raman Uppal said deweeding of Chuntkul will be started soon. "We have floated tenders for deweeding the channel and the allotment process will be completed soon," Uppal added.