Dredging of major channel connecting Dal and Nigeen lakes in full swing

Waterways serve as lake's arteries, committed to restore these: LAWDA
Pic: Mubashir Khan/GK
Pic: Mubashir Khan/GK

In its endeavour to improve circulation of waters in Dal Lake, authorities have started dredging of a major interior channel of the water body.

The 2.25 km channel from Nowpora to Saida Kadal isconsidered to be vital as it connects Dal with Nigeen lake. Till a few decadesago, the waterway was a favourite haunt of tourists especially foreigners. Itused to be decked with handicraft and walnut furniture shops. However, inabsence of conservation measures over the past several decades, the channel wascompletely choked.

"The choked channel had made our life miserable. Due topungent smell emanating from it, we could not even breathe properly. But thereis considerable improvement now as dredging in is full swing," said JavidHussain Shirazi, a resident of Hassanabad Rainawari.

The Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) hasbeen carrying out dredging of the Nowpora-Saida Kadal channel using bothmachinery and traditional methods. "We have dredged out over 15,000 cubicmeters of silt in the channel so far," said Muhammad Ashraf Baba,executive engineer LAWDA Division 2nd. He said dredging of the channel will becompleted in over a month.

Waters of Dal Lake flow to Nigeen Lake viaNaidyar-Khujyarbal channel. The narrow waterway passes through congested areasincluding Khanyar, Rainawari and Saida Kadal.

"In my childhood, the channel possessed crystal clearwaters. I along with my friends used to bath in its waters and swim in it. Butwith the passage of time, the channel was choked," said Ghulam Ahmad, avegetable vendor rowing his shikara in the waterway. "It is good to seethat authorities for the first time are making an effort to revive thechannel," he said. 

Near vast expanse of waters overlooking Ashai Bagh bridge,LAWDA has dredged out major portion of Dal Lake. Locals said the area wascovered with weeds and lily pads. "After sustained dredging, we haveretrieved 0.32 sq.km area of the lake area so far," said Feroz Ahmad Mir,executive engineer lake division Ist. 

On the recommendations of Alternate Hydro Energy Centre,University of Roorke, for Conservation of Dal and Nigeen lakes, the LAWDA hadseveral years ago started work on drainage project along the channel. Theproject envisages connecting drains to the STP at Brari Nambal. Though pumpingstations have been constructed along the channel, but house connectivity inseveral areas there is yet to be completed.

Vice-chairman LAWDA Tufail Matoo said Government iscommitted to restore choked channels in Dal Lake. "These channels serve asarteries of the lake. We are in the process of retrieving these channels.  Dredging of Baba Demb and Telbal is on anvil.Besides dredging in the main lake, there are machines which are coming up totake care of lily plants which is a kind of a major challenge for LAWDA to dealwith," Matoo said.

He said for pumping drainage water from Saida Kadal to AshaiBagh, work on Integrated Pumping Station is going on and will be connected in amonth with Hazratbal STP. "This will help to save the channel frompollution," he added.

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