Pollution Toll: Dal Lake Dying A Slow Death
30 April 2005
The Indian Express
Jammu: It is slow poisoning of the water that is daily killing a part of the Dal Lake, which has been the major attraction in Kashmir Valley. The Pollution Control Board's report of 2003-2004 says that the Dal is dying slowly as pollutants were six to eight times more than the permissible limit (as prescribed by the Water Act (Prevention and Control of Pollution) and also by the Central Board for Control of Pollution (CPCB)). The report also says that construction and design deficiencies of the treatment plant was leading to its poor functioning. Besides, the known factors, like human settlements (60,000 people), hotels (300), floating gardens, and even dhobhi ghats on the periphery, are generously contributing to the lake's slow death. The lake, which has shrunk from 75 sq kms 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. Dr Bilqees Ara, senior scientist with the PCB, says most of the pollutants are found two to six times higher than the permissible limit. Ara says that quantity of bio-mass is ever- increasing, reducing the penetration of light, and that is why the red algae is blooming in the lake. 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. Vice-Chairman, LAWDA, Tanveer Jahan says that over six sewargae treatment plants are being set up, and of these, two had already started working. 'There is a plan to shifting dwellers from the Dal to various pockets of the city,' says Jahan.