The four months of protests in the valley pushed back the progress made in the cleaning project of the Dal Lake by almost a year. The work that could have been completed by December will now take another six months before meeting its first deadline.
The lapse in the progress took place due to unavailability of labour during the protests and numerous shut downs due to security concerns.
Commenting on the delay in the cleaning process Tara Chand, the Deputy Chief Minister of the state and the housing minister, commented that the strikes prevented work from progressing because labour was missing and all work had come to a stand still. It will take 5 to 6 months before the cleaning process can make up for the lost time. In order to speed up the procedure state officials are taking the help of Shikara and house boat owners to prevent tourists from littering the water.
The one year old project had been undertaken by the state government with the help of the central government funding. There project involves removing the layer of sewer from the bed of the lake along with continuous de-weeding process; this along with focusing on rehabilitating the lake dwellers who have moved away.
Polythene use has been banned in the state and this law is being followed more stringently around the lake. The wall surrounding the lake has been increased in height and the banks have been cleared of all encroachments making more space for the flow of water.
Five pumping stations have been made operational by the authorities at a cost of Rs. 79 lakh and 25 km of trunk sewers have been completed at a cost of Rs. 20.84 crore so far. Six blocked channels like Rainawari, Nowpora, Merakshah, Chowdri Bagh, Dal Kawpora and Chakoo channels have been dredged and opened up, thereby helping in maintaining better water circulation in the lake. The sewer treatment plants (STP’s) treat about 21.5 million litres of sewerage per day, catering to a population of 1.5 lakh living on Dal lake peripheries.
The project is very prestigious for the government which has so far spent Rs. 161.24 crore on sewerage treatment solid waste, hydraulic works, restoration and development and catchment’s management works.