The Jammu and Kashmir government has set up a ten-member committee to declare Srinagar’s famous Dal Lake and its surrounding areas as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ), following concerns over its shrinking size.
Pollution and encroachments have resulted in the Dal Lake shrinking from its original area of 22 square kilometers to about 10 square kilometers, according to an assessment by the Dredging Corporation of India (DCI) in 2017.
The DCI also found that the world-famous lake’s capacity has shrunk to about 40% and that its water quality has deteriorated.
“Sanction is hereby accorded to the constitution of a 10-member committee to finalise the draft of the notification for declaring Dal Lake and its surrounding areas as eco-sensitive zone,” Additional Secretary of General Administrative Department (GAD) Subash Chibber said.
The committee shall finalize the draft notification within a period of one month, he said, adding that all facilities and infrastructure to the committee shall be provided by the Housing and Urban Development Department.
The committee comprises of Chief Conservator for Forests, Director of the Tourism Department, Vice-Chairman of the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority, Director of Industries Department, Commissioner of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC), Kashmir’s Regional Wildlife Warden, Regional Director of the State Pollution Control Board, Director of the Agriculture Department, the Chief Town Planner and a representative of the Law Department, he said.
The DCI assessment also found that intense pollution by untreated sewage and solid wastes that flow into the lake, encroachments of water channels and clogging has diminished the circulation and inflows into the lake, leading to extensive growth of the weed water hyacinth which has emerged as a health hazard.
Further, it established that the depth of the lake has reduced at many places due to siltation and encroachment, and that continuing night soil discharge from the 800 to 900 houseboats causes extreme pollution in the water body.