Two foreign tourists made a small begging on Sunday.They got down to cleaning the Dal Lake and at the end of the day had collected two truckloads of polythene and garbage.
Dr Marc Stollreiter, a German psychologist, and Birgit Lenger, an Austrian social and cultural interpolator, led around 150 volunteers in a daylong campaign to clean Srinagar's main tourist attraction.
“We collected two truckloads of polythene and garbage from the lake”, said Imdad Saqi, journalist and secretary general of Valley Citizen's Council — an NGO that participated in the cleaning drive.
The office bearers and volunteers of Houseboat Owners' Association, Zamindar (farmer) Union and several college and university students also participated in the exercise.
Dr Marc was motivated by one of his friends, who had recently been to Kashmir, to visit Srinagar and stay on the Dal to enjoy the “idyllic stillness of its waters surrounded by mighty mountains”.
“But I was shocked to see raw sewage and heaps of garbage in the lake during a shikara ride”, he said. “My conscience made me sponsor and participate in the cleaning drive”, he added.
“We must not leave everything to the government. If government fails to perform its duty, people should come forward. It (Dal) is their property. They should keep it clean,” Dr Marc said. For the past four days, the two foreigners had been mobilising support for Sunday's cleaning drive and named it “Dal Conservation Day”.
“We did not want to embarrass the government here. We only wanted to create awareness among people to keep this beautiful water body clean”, he said. “It is the collective responsibility of all the people including tourists to keep this lake clean,” he said
“It (Dal) cannot be saved by one-day cleaning. It needs a continuous effort. Government must come forward. We are all here to help it”, said Azeem Toman, president of Houseboat Owners Association.