MISCELLANEOUS

Action plan mooted to check Dal Lake pollution

NEW DELHI Dec. 24. Describing the conservation of the Dal Lake as a national issue, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology of the Ministry of Environment and Forest, has recommended the formulation of a plan of action to control pollution in the lake.

Expressing concern over the deterioration of water quality and other associated problems arising out of development of eutrophic conditions that have reduced the environmental, recreational and aesthetic value of this lake, the report entitled "Conservation and Environmental Management Plan for Dal-Nagin Lake," suggests identifying the principal source and rate of accumulation of these nutrients.

Removal of excessive bio-mass and diversion of pollutants are needed on a war footing and outright prevention of dumping of garbage in the lake should be accomplished without further delay by effectively managing the solid waste, the report says while pointing out that the lake formed the axis of life for the Kashmir valley and, therefore, it was not only important from the point of view of ecology, but also for augmenting economy of the people and ensuring peace in the region.

The report took note of the observations of Helmut Kroiss, professor at the Institute for Water Quality and Waste Management, Vienna University of Technology, made in March 1998, that said "all actions within the lake such as de-weeding, local aeration and skimming of algae help to fight the symptoms of the degradation process but will not be able to restore the desired water quality and sustainable, ecological development for the future.'' The actual population of about 50,000 living in the lake area without proper sanitation would not allow sustainable development. It had to be doubted that there existed an economically feasible technical solution to restore the lake and to provide adequate social development of the people living in this area at the same time, Prof. Kroiss had said in his observations while recommending considering the relocation of the majority of the population living in and outside the lake.

Describing the relocation of the population as the "only economically feasible method to reduce pollution of the lake," the report, however, acknowledged that "transfer of this population to new housing areas is a complex and sensitive process which will take time even if finances are available to make it acceptable to those people.''

The report recommends linking the process of lake restoration to a common understanding of water protection by involving the schools and media in the awareness process, as observed by Prof. Kroiss.

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