The Dal discourse

There is no need to abandon all hope.

Few days back ‘The Age’ and ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ newspaper’s South Asia correspondent asked for my views on Kashmir’s failing Eco-system, particularly the plight of ‘Dal’ Lake. He was here to do a story on this vital issue for his readers back home in Australia. During our comprehensive discussion, one of his interesting and pointed questions was about future of Dal. He asked, ‘How do you feel about future of the Dal, can it be revived’? My one word answer to his query was—optimism.
It is an irony that every discussion in Kashmir about Dal concludes with a disappointing note. This extreme position does not communicate our true concern for Dal, but suggests our negative attitude on this important environmental issue. Dal’s pace towards decline is a fact, but losing hope regarding its restoration is not fair. Optimism is the only approach of understanding regarding revival of Dal Lake. If we surrender, and accept the defeat, the forces instrumental in killing the Lake will mock at us. We as a nation require coming out of this dilemma where we are unable to decide between a resolution for hopeful revival and obituary of Dal.
For last few decades’ process of ‘Dal revival’ had passed through many critical phases, marred by accusations of incompetence, lack of knowledge and corruption on the part of agencies responsible for restoration of Dal. How far these allegations are true, we are not here to judge them and give opinion? Our concern should always be about the shape and future of the lake and for that we have to work together with the agencies responsible for restoration of the Lake. During the last more than a decade Dal as guinea pig for over experimentation has experienced many untried procedures for its probable revival; many of them have not only failed but exposed this beautiful water body to extreme levels of degradation and declining. Earlier, under the orders of Honourable high court of Jammu and Kashmir the tree plantation (particularly the Salix) within the Lake were chopped, not uprooted. Now this plantation has resurged from their stumps and grown into huge clusters of soft plantation. Such half-hearted and indistinct steps by the executing agency prove counterproductive. However, many scientific efforts with quality technical know-how and help of qualified human resource and improved machinery have proved valuable for the Lake.
Let us be back on the track of optimism and support the positive approach of Dal revitalization agencies. For the last many months they are working seriously on a smaller but an ambitious project of re-alignment of house boats within the Lake. Apparently, some semblance of genuineness and practicality is visible in this restoration effort with a symbiotic arrangement, both for the Dal as well as the houseboats. The apprehensions of the Houseboat owners in case of any likely relocation or realignment are genuine but such issues can be addressed only by mutual trust and proper interaction. Houseboat people and other stake holders should bear in mind that their survival is only because of lively Dal and for that they have to lend a helping hand. The Lake is kind enough not to tax them; instead they are taxing the magnificence of lake directly or indirectly. The prospective proposal of LAWDA to realign Houseboats on the either side of the existing extended landmass within the Lake with all modern facilities on scientific lines will enhance the exclusive and unique character of the Houseboats and the panoramic view and serene ambiance within the proposed location will provide a convivial atmosphere for tourists. This small gesture on part of Houseboat people will prove foundation for scientific and valid revival of Dal.
For long, we had been questioning every step of LAWDA and other agencies with suspicion and pessimism as very often they stood on the wrong side of fence, but now this time they have tried to assert themselves with a realistic approach seeking a helping hand and an optimistic pat on their back.

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