Dal Lake Could Live Up To 300 More Years!

1 April 2009
The Indian Express

Srinagar: If only the silt from its surroundings keeps on depositing in Dal Lake on the current rate, this famous water body of Kashmir will take another 346 years to disappear. And siltation of the lake bed is only one small reason for the death of the Dal. According to the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the Conservation and Management of Dal-Nagin Lakes prepared by the Alternate Hydro Energy Centre of the University of Roorkee, the experts had conducted Radiometric Dating Technique and estimated the life expectancy of the lake at 355 years based on the siltation and sedimentation of the lake bed from its catchment area. And nine years have already passed since this elaborate report was submitted to the J-K Government only to be ignored by the babus. In 2000, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests assigned the job of preparing a DPR as a step towards saving the Dal-Nagin Lakes. The report had various components like the sewerage and sewage treatment, solid waste management, relocation and rehabilitation of lake dwellers, catchment management plan including others. It has an elaborate chapter on each of these components and had a separate chapter on the proposed interventions. “According to the assessment, the annual soil loss to the Dal Lake works out to be 61,000 tones per year which is equivalent to 2.7 milimetres per year uniformly spread in the Dal Lake,’’ the report’s Catchment Management segment says. “This works out the expected life of Dal Lake to be 355 years’’. The DPR has put the total catchment around Dal Lake at 33, 000 hectares and divided it into six zones which include Lake Hillside, Dal Lake, City Area, Chhatrahama, Dara and Dachigam. The report says that the degradation of the catchment area is an important factor leading to various problems in the fresh water lakes and proposes appropriate catchment management plan to help save Dal and the adjoining Nagin Lake. “The main objective of the catchment management plan is to check soil erosion and degradation process in the catchment area and thus arrest and bring down the sediment and nutrient flow to the lake to the minimum,” the report explains. The experts have advised several immediate proposals to arrest the silt flow into the lake. “Restoration of degraded forests through plantation, contour hedgerows and in situ moisture conservation. Fuel, wood and fodder plantation of indigenous exotic species. Drainage line treatment through properly designed structures such as check dams, RCC drop structures, Retards, Gabions, Stone walls, Trenching, Fencing, Water Tanks and Troughs and Wetting. Forage production through Silvi-pasutre, pasture development and on-farm fodder development and beneficiary participation through entry point activity.” The report says that the catchment’s topography and relief affects the drainage system, land, soil, vegetation, settlement pattern, occupation and type of land use, all of which have profound impact on the lake ecosystem.