Vote Bank Politics Spoils Dal

Vote Bank Politics Spoils Dal

7 June 2013
Greater Kashmir
Arif Shafi Wani

Srinagar: With Assembly elections set to be held next year, the vote bank politics is taking a heavy toll on Dal Lake which has been marred by extensive pollution and encroachment. Official sources said a senior minister has directed the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) to construct bridges and culverts in an interior lake area of Miskeen Bagh. The minister has passed the directions to appease his vote bank in the area. “Construction of bridges and culverts in this ecologically sensitive area will be detrimental to the lake as it would facilitate ferrying of material and illegal constructions. However, the minister is bent upon to construct bridges and culverts just to appease his vote bank in the area,” sources said. The High Court, which is monitoring the conservation of Dal Lake, has banned constructions in the lake and within 200 meters of its periphery. Officials said the Dal Conservation Project does not recommend construction of bridges and culverts in the lake. “Whenever elections are near we are under tremendous political pressure to either construct bridges or roads in the lake or facilitate illegal constructions. In the Assembly, these politicians shed crocodile tears on deterioration of Dal while in private they leave no stone unturned to vandalize Dal to set their vote bank right,” they said. Pertinently, the population within the lake is to be moved out of the area to free the Dal of encroachment. Sites for colonies are already under development for the population to be moved from the lake. Senior Advocate Zafar Shah, who is also Amicus Curiae in the Dal case, said by virtue of the High Court directions, no construction is allowed within 200 meters of periphery of Dal. “If the concerned authorities go ahead with construction of bridges or culverts in the notified areas this will be contempt of court. Legal action will be taken against the concerned officials who will facilitate such constructions,” Shah said. Dr MRD Kundangar, environmentalist, said such constructions defeat the objective of Dal conservation. “Vote bank politics is one of the major reasons for deterioration of Dal. If government is serious to restore the Dal to its pristine glory it should not encourage any move which is detrimental to the lake,” Dr Kundangar added. A senior official of LAWDA, wishing anonymity, said the matter has been taken up with higher authorities. “Despite political pressure we have forwarded our reservations to the government on construction of bridges and culverts in lake interiors,” he added.