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Petition on Dal lake

The petition intended to be presented to the Chief Minister of the state, Omar Abdullah, urging him to be committed in reviving and protecting the dying lake of Kashmir- the Dal. Ashiq Hussain reports.

india Updated: Nov 03, 2009 12:00 IST
Ashiq Hussain

As 34 year old Arif Ahmad, a watchman, passed a banner outside a shopping complex at ever busy residency road in Lalchowk, the business hub of Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Srinagar, he stooped, mumbled a few words, came back and scribbled his name on a petition in a small mobile kiosk besides the banner.

The petition intended to be presented to the Chief Minister of the state, Omar Abdullah, urging him to be committed in reviving and protecting the dying lake of Kashmir- the Dal. Environmentalists have been crying hoarse over the increased pollution level of the lake and decreasing of its size to half in the last twenty years.

“It pains me to see the lake dying. I am a poor man but if signing this petition can help our Dal lake from dying, I would be more than happy to do it,” Arif said.

In fact the ‘agonizing’ degradation of Dal lake has forced, Zeeshan Pandith, a 33 year old nature lover and managing director of a preschool, Little Wonders, to plan the whole idea of ‘Save Dal Lake Petition’.

From the past two days, he has been taking all pains to install banners and small mobile kiosks outside coffee shops, shopping complexes and banks in Srinagar urging the people to sign the petition.

The petition demands “bold and honest leadership on part of the government to save Dal lake, strengthening laws pertaining to conservation of water bodies, implementing efficient waste management system , consulting the people in designing an environment action plan and empowering youth to be able to lead and sustain actions to save dal lake”.

The response to sign the petition from the people has been good. “Yesterday I collected about 400 signatures and now it has crossed 1000,” said Pandith, who has done his graduation in philosophy from Philippine university.

“People are responding to the call. Young and old, poor and rich, employees and businessmen, drivers and policemen; all of them are signing,” he said.

Pandith feels that besides urging the government to be committed, he wanted to generate awareness among people. “The objective is to make people socially responsible. A heightened civic sense among people is the need of the hour,” he said.

“It does not matter whether all of them sign or nor but I want the theme imprinted on the minds of people. They should understand that it is not the government only but we are responsible for the deterioration of lake as well,” Pandith said.

Twenty nine year old Abrar Ali, a civil engineer by profession, thinks that the petition is the first step. “We have to do it all. We can’t wait for people from outside to do it,” Ali said.

However Forty seven year old Mohammad Younis who has been bathing in the crystal clean waters of Dal lake in his childhood wants a law framed specially to save the lake. “Like they framed certain laws to curb militancy similarly they should frame a legislation to save the lake,” Younis said, who is a businessman.

Owing to the pollution the government had started the Dal cleaning drive in 2005 when ministry of environment and forests approved Rs. 289.76 crores for the cleaning project, setting the dead line of 2010. Although till august 2009, Rs 133.10 crores have been spent so far from the amount and the deadline being so close, not much is apparent on ground. Weeds have choked the inner areas of the lake to alarming proportions and solid and liquid waste is still finding its place into the lake.

Pandith is planning to continue the campaign for two months reaching every possible area of Srinagar city. He wants to reach the areas where people dump their garbage into the lake. “I will also campaign outside mosques on Fridays particularly Jamia Masjid in old city and I will also go to colleges,” he said.