After years of inordinate delay, the administration has started conservation of Brari Nambal lagoon in the heart of Jammu & Kashmir's summer capital.
Situated at the entrance of Shahr-e-Khaas, DowntownSrinagar, the conservation of the lagoon, which is on the verge of extinctiondue to pollution and encroachments, had emerged as a litmus test for theprevious elected regimes. However, they failed to take measures to revive thelagoon.
Restoration of BrariNambal is considered to be ecologicallyimportant as it helps to regulate hydrology of Dal by releasing its surpluswaters into river Jhelum via a conduit at FatehKadal area. In absence ofconservation measures, the lagoon has turned into a cesspool. Piles of garbage,obnoxious weeds besides extensive encroachments have severely affected itsfragile eco-system.
"BrariNambal in important part of Dal Lake andShahr-e-Khaas. We have started dredging in the lagoon to increase its carryingcapacity. Hopefully, it will take us around two months to complete it,"Vice-Chairman Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) TufailMatootold Greater Kashmir.
Officials said conservation of the lagoon including dredgingwill be undertaken at a cost of Rs 16.91 crores under the Atal Mission forRejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT). Under the Prime Minister'sDevelopment Package (PMDP), footpaths, kiosks and food courts will beconstructed at a cost of Rs 8.05 crore.
Officials said there are around 400 kanals of proprietaryland in the lagoon. "We will also start land acquisition process anddevelop the lagoon as one of the best tourist destinations of Srinagar,"Matoo said.
Following a sustained campaign by Greater Kashmirhighlighting the lagoon's deteriorating condition, the government in 2013 and2015 had ordered conservation measures including immediate cleaning, dredging,expansion and beautification. However, due to paucity of funds, government hadfailed to launch conservation measures.
According to historians, 14th century King Zainulabidin,popularly known as Budshah, was so impressed by the beauty of BrariNambal thathe built Hamams on its banks. The lagoon possessed crystal clear waters. Formany centuries people used to have steam and herbal bath in Hamams there whoseremnants have vanished under encroachments and heaps of garbage dumps.
The lagoon was an example of engineering excellence. Thewaters of Dal which originated from DachigamRakh flowed to the BrariNambal viaNowpora. Budshah closed the lagoon's three peripheries and dug up a new canalknown as Nallah Mar, stretching from Baba Demb to Aanchar— making a waterwaythrough a cluster of houses and shops alongside its banks.
Before filling up of Nallah Mar, the lagoon was a part ofmain outflow channel of Dal lake. It helped to regulate Dal waters and save itsinhabitants from floods. The lagoon was also a major route of inland watertransportation system in the summer capital.
Prof Shakil Ahmad Romshoo, head, Department of EarthSciences, Kashmir University said water circulation is important forconservation of Dal Lake and the lagoon. "There is need to restorearteries of the Dal Lake for maintaining its hydrology. Conservation measureslike dredging of BrariNambal and other outflow channels will help to restorenatural drainage of Dal Lake and improve its water quality," Romshooadded.
"We have seen how this lagoon was neglected by thesuccessive regimes. We hope that the government will ensure that the conservationmeasures are not left half way," said Ghulam Ahmad, a local resident.