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IndiaAre houseboats killing Kashmir's Dal Lake?

Are houseboats killing Kashmir’s Dal Lake?

Published: 9th Mar 2021 2:15 pm

Srinagar: The plight of Kashmir’s houseboats, once called the floating palaces on the pristine waters of The Dal Lake, today hangs in a precarious balance. It is an archetypal case of the resident coming in direct conflict with his residence! Once known for its crystal clear waters on which the houseboats floated majestically, the Dal Lake in Kashmir’s capital city, Srinagar, is today dying a slow death.

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Its waters have become murky, polluted and unfit for drinking and even bathing. Reports of bathers getting a skin rash after swimming in this Lake have raised alarm even when the government is spending millions to retrieve the Lake, both from pollution and human encroachment.

Experts say that from its original area of 22 square miles, Dal Lake has shrunken to less than 10 square miles. “The reason for the shrinking of this Lake is encroachment as more and more land masses have come up inside the Lake”, said Dr. Ashok Pandita, who has done exhaustive research on the ecology of this Lake. Pandita does not blame the houseboats and the fishermen who live inside the Lake for its present plight. He says there are multiple factors those have led to the degradation of the Lake.

“The houseboat owners and the fishermen living inside the Dal Lake are an integral part of the Lake’s ecosystem. You cannot claim to have preserved the Lake by removing its dwellers. “Removing houseboat owners and fishermen from the Lake in the name of preserving it would be like removing the tiger from the forest to save its ecosystem,” Pandita said. He, however, asserted that the number of houseboats and the population of fishermen should be kept under check to prevent their explosion inside the fragile ecosystem.

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