In a desperate move to save an ailing lake in Srinagar, Army men have joined efforts to clean up the Dal Lake, which is at the heart of Kashmir’s tourism industry.An official of the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) said 100 soldiers were working for the past two days to clean up the lake, which is facing an existential crisis due to the outgrowth of lilies and weeds.
The soldiers start the exercise of removing lily patches from the lake early morning when the temperatures are still sub-zero. The uprooted lilies are collected in boats and dumped on the banks.On social media, a Netizen described the Army’s intervention to clean up the lake as the “proof of the failure” of politicians, bureaucracy and the administration.
The LAWDA official said the soldiers come with 20 boats to perform the operation clean-up. “The soldiers are not trained to this and they asked for 20 skilled labourers, who are now guiding them,” the official said.
The lake, which receives perennial high-altitude glacial melt and run-off from a catchment spread over more than 350 sqkm, has a total area of 25.76 sqkm and is the focus of continued conservation efforts.
The increased human interference over the decades and the slow and unscientific conservation efforts in the past have resulted in continuous degradation of the lake with entry of sewage and high-nutrient load posing a major challenge to its eco-system.
The water expanse of the lake covered by lilies is estimated to be 6 sqkm. The LAWDA launched a major clean-up drive of the lake in July and pressed into service nearly 1,000 skilled and unskilled labourers to uproot lilies and another 500 for deweeding. The official said 1.5 sqkm of lily patches have so far been uprooted in the past six months.