The selective approach will only damage the cause…
Greater Kashmir in its 17 September (Monday) edition on the front page published pictures representing entirely two diverse faces of Dal Lake. The two pictures were self explanatory and describe a lot about maneuvering Dal affairs and its managers. One picture clicked by the photo journalist near Nehru Park depicted the enlightening and rosy picture of Dal with clean water surface and floating Shikara carrying flowers, but unfortunately the other picture gave the grimmer picture of the lake. These utterly different pictures on one hand speak a lot about callous attitude of the Dal administrators and their selective approach but at the same time strengthen our conviction that Dal ‘Can be’ restored to its pristine glory. This ray of hope, if explored properly with commitment and sincerity will turn into a flame—a flame of optimism that will lit, otherwise, darkish path of Dal revival. Selective clearance and treatment of Dal is no solution to the Dal dilemma, instead it is reprehensible and amounts to intentional negligence. Dal for the last more than two decades is suffering from systemic failure and almost all its features are tormented by our unkind approach. Its flora is either fading or growing beyond control like cancerous expansion and its fauna is dying and becoming extinct with every passing day. So, Dal requires a holistic approach of treatment and restoration. Treating one part or section of the Lake and ignoring the other will all go in waste—waste of efforts, funds and ultimately death of the Lake.
A cursory look on the water surface of Dal from Nehru Park up to SKICC and then from Kralsanghri up to Nishat foreshore road, Dal seems to be recovered and improving. With extensive chain of fountain cum water aerators; continues manual de-weeding and mechanical mowing of weeds (I am using the word ‘mowing’ because these machines only trim and cut terminal part of the weed not pulling it completely) Dal looks healthier and in good shape. This area of the Lake along the boulevard is face of the Dal and within the reach and sight of everyone, so its managers keep it always in good shape by putting on it every available means of make-up. However, a humble Shikara ride from either Saidakadal or Ashai Bagh Bridge deep into the Dal reveals the real face of distressed Dal. Encroachments near National Institute of Technology—NIT shoreline and en-route and floating litter in this vast area of Dal represents the existing health of major portions of the Lake. A ride from Saidakadal towards interiors of Dal at the first instance gives you an ambient feel of some rivulet in Venice with heritage houses and wooden structures on either side of the inlet but once you enter into the lake through backwater lagoons and re-emerging plantation of Salix, the smell of horribly stinking water and encroachments overpower your mind and soul. This selective approach in restoring only visible and prominent portions of Dal and ignoring the main body of the Lake may be beguiling but it is against the fundamentals of scientific approach of Lake Restoration and almost amounts to deception and sycophancy.
Lake authorities should bear in mind that they have been entrusted with the herculean task of restoring Dal in its totality, not in bits and pieces to the satisfaction of their own goodwill. Such half hearten approach instead of restoring the Lake will ruin it beyond revival. We don’t refute their efforts of restoration or cast aspersions on their sincerity but their selective and deceptive restoration approach certainly comes under scanner. These lines are not meant to play a blame game or an act of cynicism but instead we try to portray the real picture of Dal—the pride of Kashmir and its people. Lake authorities should take the two pictures published in GK and these lines in right perspective and should subject themselves to introspection for evolving a technically appropriate restoration regimen instead of selective and ad hoc approach.