Court Takes Custody Of Dal, 3 Other Lakes

26 March 2009
Rising Kashmir

Srinagar: The High Court Thursday took over the custody of four lakes including Dal saying it is not satisfied with the government action in preserving water bodies. It also directed residents living within Dal, Nigeen, Khushhalsar and Anchar lakes to furnish proof of their right to stay within the water bodies. A division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Barin Ghosh and Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir in an order passed on Wednesday said: 'From this date we take Dal, Nigeen, Khushhalsar and Anchar in our custody on behalf of the people and accordingly direct the State Government to publish a notification to that effect for information of general public and all concerned.' The Court has made all the agencies concerned with management, preservation and development of these water bodies directly answerable to the Division Bench. 'Since these water bodies become custodia legis, it is imperative on our part to know the exact area of these water bodies,' said the Court ruling. It further observed that that although the government has established authorities for the purpose, ‘but still the things done are miniscule.’ The court also directed residents living within Dal, Nigeen, Khushhalsar and Anchar lakes to furnish proof of their right to stay within the water bodies. The Division Bench said there are complaints about new encroachments, settlements coming into existence in connivance with various authorities responsible for managing and preservation of these water bodies. 'It has come on record that while some people have been relocated from the water bodies, they have returned. It has also come on record that number of encroachers has increased instead of decrease, despite payment of compensation to a large number of people who had encroached upon,' observed the Bench. The dwellers of the water bodies have been asked to file an affidavit within two weeks of their right to dwell in the lake along with the number of persons with their names and age. The lake is a major source of drinking water for Srinagar, supplying about 40% of city's population. Sewage discharged into the lake results in a process called 'eutrophication' which causes aquatic weed growth, damages local flora and fauna and results in the clogging of fresh water arteries. Lately, there has been an alarming increase in the detection of deadly elements such as arsenic, cadmium, manganese, copper, lead, nickel in the lake basin - posing a grave threat to any living thing that consumes the water. There are often reports of people in Srinagar becoming ill after consuming water supplied from water filtration plants from the lake. The lake's aquatic life has already been hit. Fishing, the area's second-biggest industry after tourism, has seen a rash of unemployment due to the decreased in fish population in the lake. Even today, as the government attempts to stop the discharge of 100,000 liters of sewage per day from houseboats into the lake per day, millions of liters of sewage from other sources go unhindered. Environmentalists say that if real action is not taken, Kashmir's glistening Dal Lake lake will be gone in 50 years.