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J&K govt to relocate houseboats on Dal Lake to check pollution

October 19, 2011 21:42 IST

In a bid to conserve the world famous Dal Lake in Srinagar, which has been facing serious dangers from pollution and encroachments, the Jammu and Kashmir government has decided to relocate houseboats from their present locations.

State Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal, met with houseboat owners on Wednesday to garner their cooperation in the implementation of the relocation plan inside the lake.

He urged the houseboat owners "to voluntarily participate in the relocation plan to Dole-Demb area of the Dal Lake. He said that their 'positive contribution in this regard is of symbiotic benefit to both the lake and the houseboat owners".

The chief secretary said that "the relocation plan should be carried out in a phased manner" and in this connection asked the houseboat owners association (HBOA) to furnish the list of houseboats to LAWDA (Lakes and Waterways Development Authority) for shifting to the new site in the first phase.

Responding to various concerns raised by the houseboat owners, Lal said that "public opinion needs to be respected and environmental concerns addressed", adding that "necessary steps on scientific lines have to be taken for the conservation of the world famous water body".

Madhav Lal called on the HBOA and other stake holders "to keep in mind the larger interest of the ecologically sensitive lake and cooperate with the authorities for its restoration".

"The relocation and alignment plan envisages that houseboats are stationed in an organised setup and disposal of sewage and pollutants is carried out scientifically and effectively to conserve the lake against further deterioration and pollution. It will also make available open water expanse along Boulevard-Dalgate stretch where the haphazard mooring of houseboats and dongas is choking and narrowing the lake outlet," an official statement said.

The union government has sanctioned several hundred crores for the Dal development project underway for nearly past two decades.

As per a survey the Dal area has shrunk from the original 75 sq. km to around 12 sq km.

Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar