Kashmir in itself is a beautiful song and the Dal Lake being its chorus. With the constant disruptions and tensions between the neighbouring country Pakistan, many are yet to behold the magic that lies here. Lives revolve around this fresh water-body- almost an entity- symbolising the focus point for Kashmir’s tourism and also source of basic livelihood for the many who live in this serene location.
If you have ever been here you would have hopped into one of the many wonderfully decorated shikaras gliding through the waters, visiting the local fish farms or passing by the floating vegetable mandi that bustles in the early morning hours displaying the various colours of Kashmir. During the summers the water is still and as winter arrives, they take it under a sheet of ice thicker in some locations and thinner in the others through which shikaras paddle away. The lake is as diverse under the surface of the water as it is above the water covers. Carrying a biodiversity of its own, the Dal Lake has 117 species of flora and fauna that it sustains.
But all this beauty might just be a mirage in the coming decades if no efforts would be made to sustain these magnificent water structures. The lake has tons of effluents poured in its basin every week from the industries and inhabitants nearby. It is high time that some light from sustainable movements like these be shed on water bodies like the Dal, which not only have a rich past, traditions and livelihoods tied strongly to it, but also are a crucial part of various natural cycles running on its support.
There have been efforts made by various bodies that regulate the sustenance of similar water bodies like the Dal, but these efforts do not leave a lasting effect on the lake and the minds of people related to it. Hence to add to these efforts, local participation and awareness programmes would play a crucial role. As in the past, there have been numerous efforts to conserve the freshwater of the Dal Lake. But as soon as immediate attention is diverted, the conditions go back to square one or worse. A sense of belonging towards water bodies like The Dal Lake is a motivating factor, but this affinity must also sequel in caretaking. Usually small local groups are formed to contribute to social causes but they fade off due to lack of recognition or the Government’s awareness about their existence. Due recognition from various official bodies would motivate more people to be a part of social causes like this and similar to this.
Street plays (Nukkad Natak) are an effective way of awareness while also contributing to recreation and tourist attraction. Local hotel owners, industry owners and shikara owners must be given treatment plans at a subsidised rate in order to curb the issue of untreated water disposal into the Dal basin and stricter norms must be implemented for improper garbage disposal.The youth must be motivated to take part in various cleanliness drives and shramdaan efforts around the lake and also the state. Regular sessions from service and civil officers on these bases around the town could be undertaken while also broadcasting it in various news channels and online websites as this approach must be a global motivation. A tie up between the local Public Works Department and the army on a sustainable approach for the conservation of the Dal Lake ecosystem would go a long way in the steps towards bringing positive changes.
Even when our textbooks read sagas of greatness of science and environmental approaches, we are left behind in the shambles of belief that one fine day, a revolutionary would finally arrive to rescue us from our woes, but its time we realise, that WE are our own saviours, its only us who can help each other to build a brighter tomorrow.
The notion of The Dal Lake exemplifies the relevance of giving back and taking care of the things that give us sustenance. The responsibility of environmental preservation is on us and being the forbearers of this cause, all the citizens of the nation must pledge to take steps to conserve our natural resources. Just like the Dal, water bodies around our nation face a huge threat of survival, most of them only become dumping grounds despite the fact that the living world greatly depends on fresh and clean water as a source of sustenance. This place will remain an isolated beauty which the world would not be able to see because of tensions in the area and disputes with Pakistan. The crucial realisation that the Dal Lake ecosystem needs immediate attention can only help the future generations to thrive in the glorious benefits of this beautiful lake: The Dal Lake, in all its magnificence, is calling out for HELP.