Following is the text of the report produced by the Peoples’ Environmental Council (PEC), which has been submitted to J&K’s Governor Satya Pal Malik:
SUBJECT: CONSERVATION & ECO-RESTORATION OF DAL, NIGEEN LAKES & ASSOCIATED CHANNELS/ WATER BODIESAN ON THE SPOT INTERIM ASSESSMENT CARRIED OUTBY A “PEC TEAM” DURING ITS FIELD VISIT HELD ON MONDAY, 24TH JUNE’2019
Following persistent outcry of the civil society regarding the present visible deteriorating condition of the Dal and Nigeen lakes, a fact-finding team of the PEC led by its Chairman (Mr. G.H. Kango, IFS retd.) carried out on the spot inspection on 24th June’2019 to make a first-hand assessment of the current status of the conservation and eco-restoration operations of Dal, Nigeen lakes, Brari Nambal lagoon, Jogilankar channel and the inter-connecting channel of these two lakes at Ashai Bagh, besides to know the current operational status of the old Brarinambal STP and LAWDA’s STP at Lam-Nishat also. The team carried out the stipulated field visit from 11 am to 5pm and the key observations recorded on spot are summed up as follows:-
There is a profuse and intense growth of invasive weeds/vegetation which is covering large parts of the water expanse of Dal & Nigeen lakes (besides the Brarinambal lagoon) which has rendered these water bodies visibly unclean and unpleasant to the public at large in general and scores of tourists in particular. No maintenance works especially the much needed de-weeding and cleaning operations (both mechanical and manual) whatsoever were witnessed anywhere during the day long visit.
No fool-proof, effective and scientific management of the municipal solid and liquid wastes is in place to maintain the prescribed hygiene of these vital natural resources ( and the surrounding environs). Piles of municipal solid waste were seen at many spots along the periphery of these water bodies and also inside the lakes (at a few spots), within Brarinambal lagoon, Jogilankar water channel and Ashai bagh part of Nigeen lake. The trash guards ( earlier provided as a regular practice by the Srinagar Municipal Corporation) required to arrest entry of plastics, polythene bags, disposables, etc through the water channels entering these lakes and water bodies were found either missing altogether or damaged/ineffective. The quantum of direct and indirect flow of the liquid waste (with loads of nutrients) into the lakes and also into Brarinambal lagoon is still enormous either through the feeder channels or through the unconnected drainage system which has a cumulative adverse impact on the overall health and ecology of these lakes/water bodies. Use of polythene bags and disposable plastics is rampant all through.
The overall condition of Brarinambal lagoon is highly deteriorated and this vital water body within the heart of Srinagar town is in utter neglect. There is no visible enforcement whatsoever regarding the disposal and management of solid and liquid wastes in and around this water body. The lagoon is exposed to encroachments as large stretches of its periphery has no fence or has damaged/missing fence-line with wide open gaps. The lagoon has become a cesspool and is in shambles with stinking water that emits foul odour all through its periphery. A massive cleaning up operation coupled with providing of an effective fence all around its boundary, de-weeding and dredging works is urgently required to retrieve this badly affected lagoon to restore its pristine glory.
STPs Brarinambal & Nishat (Lam):- The team also visited the old functional STP at Brarinambal & another STP at Nishat-Lam. It was revealed that the overall up-gradation/modernization plan of the city’s oldest STP at Brarinambal is still pending with the government for last more than 10-years. The Brarinambal STP (managed by the UEED) was commissioned during 1988 and its installed capacity is 17.08 MLD which is presently inadequate to cater to the existing (and future) population load of its connected as well as un-connected house-holds.The plant has already outlived its life and a full-fledged new modern STP is urgently required at the site to replace the existing old structure at the earliest. There is also a need to connect the huge peripheral population from Khanyar-Rainawari-Jogilankar-Ashaibagh-Hazratbal and other unconnected residential colonies/hamlets to the STPs in a time bound period in the best interest of the scientific management and conservation of Dal & Nigeen lakes.
The existing STP of the LAWDA at Nishat installed by the Pune based Thermax company years ago, is based on the Fluidized Aerobic Bio-Reactor (FAB) technology (along with the STPs at Hazratbal & Habak), need a fast-track up-gradation/modernization/capacity enhancement to cater to the increased population demands and liquid waste load. All these STPs were designed/equipped to cater to the maximum sewage load of estimated population statistics of 2013-14 and as such are over-due for complete up-gradation/replacement by the best available ultra- modern sewerage treatment plants as are suitable for the climatic conditions of Kashmir.
It was learnt on spot that the periodic water sampling of the STPs is routinely carried out by the JK State Pollution Control Board (J&K SPCB) and the results often depict abnormal vital parameters like BOD/COD, thus, putting a big question mark on the efficiency of these STPs.
It is of paramount importance that the Government rises to the crisis at the earliest and undertakes all necessary short and long term measures to de-weed and clean-up these lakes and water bodies of immense environmental and tourism importance, covering every nook and corner of these assets of the State as expeditiously as possible and also maintain the required momentum for the regular maintenance, upkeep and hygiene of these natural resources round the year. On the long term basis, it is recommended that a detailed management action plan prepared by the local subject matter experts/scientists/technocrats is put in practice as early as possible and all necessary infra-structure needed for complete eco-restoration, scientific management , revival of these lakes and water bodies is developed without any further delay and thus strive hard to restore the lost pristine glory of these water bodies as soon as possible. Regarding all the existing STPs, it is recommended:
(i) to upgrade and re-equip the STPs as mentioned above;
(ii) to add up more STPs at vital places to cover left over/ other residential/commercial areas which are not covered by the existing STPs so far;
(iii) All big and small drains of the net coverage area of all these water bodies which are not connected to the STPs so far must be connected by a robust lateral drainage system within the shortest possible time ;
(iv) it is a known fact that the FAB-technology does not work efficiently under sub-zero climatic conditions as experienced by Kashmir during winter months. As such the proposed up-gradation/ expansion/replacement and addition of more STPs needs essentially to have modern, climate-friendly and efficient technology;
(v) multi-fold integrated catchment area treatment on micro-watershed management basis needs to be enhanced and extended from Brane-Nishat-Shalimar-Dara-Khimber mountains for massive afforestation/silvi-pastoral development in a phased manner;
(vi) Use of inorganic fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides and similar other harmful products need to be banned within the Dal/Nigeen lakes and all over its catchment area to combat discharge of hazardous elements/ingredients into these water bodies. Organic farming needs to be promoted strictly within these lakes and around the catchment areas.
Srinagar, 01 July’ 2019
Prof.(retd.) Nusrat Andrabi – Academician
Mian J. Hussein, IFS (retd.) – Environmentalist
G.H. Kango, IFS (R) – Chairman- P.E.C.
This report has been copied to the following for information and necessary action:
- Governor, J&K, Raj Bhawan, Srinagar.
- K.K. Sharma, Advisor to Governor, Housing & Urban Development
Deptt; Civil Sectt; Srinagar.
- Chief Secretary, J&K, Srinagar.
- Principal Secretary to Govt; Housing & Urban Development Deptt; J&K, Civil Sectt; Sgr.
- Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir.