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The regular surveys of Lake and Waterways

The water bodies in Kashmir are under constant threat. Kashmir is also called the "heaven on earth" because of the lofty mountain peaks and the natural water reservoirs. There are numerous springs, lakes, channels and rivers whose origin lies somewhere in the heart of mountains. Among such unlimited water bodies is world famous Dal Lake.

The water of the Dal Lake was considered to be fit for drinking but the manipulations done to the same has made it so dirty and filthy that most people do not like to wash their hands with its water. The main reason which is responsible for water pollution in Dal Lake is the human touch. All the outlet pipes and the waste pipes of hotels and houseboats reserve their wastes in the Dal only. Due to which not only the water of the Dal has been polluted but the aquatic life of whole Dal Lake has been under the threat from last two decades with the result of which several species of flora and fauna are under extinction day by day.
Besides, the known factors, like human settlements (60,000 people), hotels (300), floating gardens, and even dhobi ghats on the periphery, are contributing to the lake's slow death. The lake, which has shrunk from 75 sq kilometers to mere 11.56 sq km, has ammonical nitrogen of over 1.57 mgl, with the maximum permissible limit being 0.5 mgl.

Another indicator is the chemical oxygen demand (COD), which was 41.8 mgl at the Nehru Park basin. Though the permissible level of COD is 9 mgl, it varied from minimum 18.76 mgl to maximum of 41.8 mgl, says the report.

The phosphates concentration, which should be less than 0.1 mgl, was also found to be increasing, with 1.18 mgl recorded at Hazratbal Basin, and a constant increase recorded all though the Lake. The report also states that the dissolved oxygen was found to be declining at various basins of the Dal. The pH value was also put on a higher alkaline side, with 7.39 at Nehru Park basin to 8.16 at Nigeen basin.

The depth of the lake has also decreased from 17 feet in 1970s to less than nine feet. The regular surveys of Lake and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) have also shown a rise in pollutants, though the department authorities say that the government was seriously working towards saving the Dal.

In addition to the houseboats where some 7,500 people live, another 50,000 people live on little islands within the lake area. The lake's environmental deterioration can be attributed rightly to human settlements within and near the lake.

Brightly coloured floating vegetable gardens have also become big sources of contamination. Dal Lake's floating gardens on rafts made of reeds make it one of the Indian Kashmir's biggest vegetable producing areas. Pesticides used by farmers find their way into the lake, causing colossal damage to its fauna and flora.

by S. C.
09 november 2009, Food & Fun > Nature