By Ezra Amin
nce famous for its fish, Nadru, and vegetable gardens, Anchar Lake today struggles to survive encroachment, waste dump, and official neglects are the main problems faced by the Anchaan lake today. highly deteriorated, Anchar lake is located near Soura area in Srinagar City, 34.1438° N, 74.7864° E condition located near Soura area in the city of, Situated close to Ganderbal, the lake is connected with the famous Dal Lake via a channel “Amir Khan Nallah” which passes through Gilsar and Khushal Sar. In case of flooding, the excessive water of Dal is diverted here.
Once tourists visited this lake in large numbers, Anchar lake was connected with the Dal Lake through a channel called Nallah Aamir Khan. Anchar Lake used to have crystal clear waters used for drinking as well as for other domestic purposes. The visitors used to take a boat ride from Dal Lake to the Khushal Sar lake, Unfortunately it was declared as a dead lake because of its deteriorated condition.
Encroachments by surrounding residents are rapid with illegal constructions and if these conditions persist and no strict measures are taken for its restoration, then the lake will perish very soon. The government is in no way serious about it. No Waterways authority has been created to guard and take action against land grabbers. Presently the lake is under the authority of Srinagar Municipal Corporation, which is already overburdened with its own work.
For the past many years there has been much deterioration and its peripheries are witnessing rapid illegal encroachments without any check by the concerned authorities. In the interior of the lake large scale cultivation of water weeds as cash crops is practiced such as English willows (used for wicker work) are grown on large tracks. Small but concrete chambers used for baking of English willow branches have also been installed close to its shores and the residual matters are directly poured into the lake that has multiplied the stress on lake. On large chunks of land leaving small water pathways in between are cultivated poplars and willows that have turned whole peripheral areas into a thick forest as a result not a single ray of light penetrating inside the lake which will lead to the wiping of all flora and fauna. Besides there are many other reasons that has made this lake almost dead.
Few years before, environmentalists raised a cry about the liquid and solid biomedical wastes of SKIMS which is directly poured in lake. Although some measures were taken by the authorities of the Institute on the behest of Pollution Control Board and two furnaces were installed in 2008 for the disposal of solid wastes. But disposal of liquid wastes is still problem, there is no proper disposal for it. The amputated human body parts from SKIMS are directly thrown in the lake without following any proper disposing methods. The smell after their decay suffocates the entire area besides, attracting scavengers and other predators, causing nuisance.
Part of River Sind with its glacial water enters the lake from its northern side contributing to it by filling it with tons of silt. Many of its out lets have filled up and are converted into permanent lands which are presently used by the locals for cultivation of vegetables and other crash crops.
Discharge of untreated effluents, sewage from surrounding human settlements is directly pouring into the lake .Dead bodies of domestic animals are seen floating in its waters, making the lake water extremely polluted and filthy. Nauseous smell restrains the explorers and prevents them to move beyond for survey. The fauna and flora once excellently thriving few decades before are now replaced by eutrophic weeds. Many of medicinal and nutritional plants of the lake are either totally extinct or are near extinction. Close to the second gate of Dal at Nalabal Nowshera, is a large scale washing centres of Kashmiri shawls, which discharges thick layers of detergent foam daily, that ultimately enters Anchar lake, via Khushal sar, that has further contaminated and deteriorated the pathetic condition of Anchar Lake.
There is an immediate need to protect this lake that has been completely ignored by the Government. Massive funds are allotted to other valley lakes every year, lake and waterways are created for their restoration and up gradation, unfortunately no attention is paid towards Anchar Lake, which is dying slowly with the negligence of Government. Serious thought is needed in order to regain its past glory.
Nallah Aamir Khan Canal is squeezed from both sides by the influential locals and has been turned into a dustbin for all sorts of garbage and trash thrown directly in it. Even an ordinary small boat cannot pass through it and not to talk of a spacious houseboat or tourist Shikara. Rowing of such boats in the Nallah was a common practice few decades before. Cleaning and drugging of this canal is badly needed. Court orders after surveying revenue records of this canal should be strictly implemented to push back the land grabbers. Stoppage of peripheral encroachment from Soura, Buchpora is immediately needed.
There is an immediate need to generate awareness about this lake so that people know its importance and advantage. Construction of well planed sewage network with filtration plants to arrest the flow of toxic waste into this lake is also needed on priority basis.
Few settlement tanks should also be constructed to restrict heavy loads of silt coming from River Sind. Restriction is immediately implemented for loaded trucks carrying building materials in these areas and law breakers should be heavily penalized.The SKIMS administration should immediately stop pouring its effluents into the lake .
Author is a student of Integrated PG Environmental Science at SP College, Srinagar. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org