Dredging Corporation of India chairman and managing director Rajesh Tripathi has painted a very grim picture of Dal Lake during his visit, along with vice-admiral SK Jha, to Srinagar on July 30 and 31 on the request of the state government.
Jha and Tripathi presented their assessments to a meeting chaired by Governor NN Vohra on Thursday.
A Raj Bhavan spokesman said that from Tripathi's assessment it was learnt that Dal has shrunk from its original area of 22 sq km to about 10 sq km; its water quality has deteriorated due to intense pollution caused by untreated sewage and solid wastes dumped into it; encroachments of water channels and clogging has diminished the circulation and inflows into the lake, leading to extensive weed growth of water hyacinth which has emerged as a health hazard; due to siltation, encroachment, etc., the depth of the lake has reduced at many places and its total capacity has gone down to 40% and the continuing night soil discharge from the 800 to 900 house boats is causing extreme pollution.
After a detailed discussion on various challenges facing the lake, the meeting decided to request the chief of the Indian Navy for help in a comprehensive Bathymetric Survey of Dal-Nageen Lake to establish a benchmark data base for deciding the extent of dredging etc. to be carried out in the various parts of the Dal Lake.
The meeting also decided to hold immediate discussions for appointment of Dredging Corporation of India as the nodal consulting agency to formulate a to-date DPR which focuses, inter alia, on dredging identified areas of the land masses in the interiors of the Dal Lake.
Initiating immediate action for examining the possibility of installing holding tanks and bio-digestors as a safeguard against discharge of house boats sewage into the lake was also discussed at the meeting, the spokesman said. Financial commissioner Housing and Urban Development Department KB Agarwal was directed to take immediate action in this regard.
Vice-chairman Lakes and Waterways Development Authority has been asked to commence immediate finalisation of a project proposal for installing additional aerators in Dal for raising the dissolved oxygen levels in stagnant pockets.
The VC has also been asked to share with Tripathi all information regarding state government's recent decision to procure/hire Lake cleaning machines, for such correction as may be necessary.
Vice-admiral Jha, who has several decades of experience in hydrography, offered several valuable suggestions and the steps to be taken for the preservation of lakes and water bodies in J&K.
Governor Vohra has directed Agarwal to take immediate steps to implement the decisions taken at the meeting and asked chief secretary BVR Subrahmanyam to closely monitor further progress.
The Governor thanked Tripathi and Jha and the Chief of Indian Navy for their help and hoped their valuable expertise will enable the required preservation measures being taken for achieving a positive outcome within a tight time frame. The Governor would be personally reviewing progress on the basis of the chief secretary's reports in regard to this very important project, the spokesman said.