Ailing Dal Lake continues to shrink : Study

The Dal Lake, a jewel of Kashmir’s tourism industry, has shrunk by 24.49 per cent in the past 155 years and is becoming increasingly polluted with at least 32 per cent of it described as “severely degraded,” according to a latest research.
The study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of Kashmir has concluded that the lake had lost 24.49 per cent of its area between 1859 to 2013 as it faced “multiple pressures” from unplanned urbanisation, high population growth and nutrient load from intensive agriculture and tourism.
“The data showed that the lake has shrunk from 31 sq km in 1859 to 24 sq km in 2013. Significant changes were observed in the land use and land cover within the lake and in its vicinity,” the study said.
The analysis of the demographic data, the study said, indicated that the human population within the lake areas had shown “more than double the national growth rate.”
The human population within the lake islands has sustained and grown despite Centrally-sponsored conservation projects failed multiple implementation deadlines. Parts of the projects aimed at depopulating the lake and rehabilitating lake dwellers.
Irfan Rashid, assistant professor at the University of Kashmir’s Earth Sciences Department, and one of the five authors of the study said there were indications that the lake’s water had gone under “tremendous change”. “It is important that population interference should be limited to enhance the life of this lake,” Rashid said. “If this reckless vandalism of the lake continues it would be almost impossible to reclaim it pristine status,” he said.
The study, which analysed the long-term biophysical and demographic changes in the lake using a “repository of historical, remote sensing, socio-economic and water quality data” supported by the extensive field observations, paints grim conclusions about the health of the Dal Lake.
The findings of the latest study corroborate similar conclusion reached by the state’s Pollution Control Board which had found that the “self-purifying capacity” of the lake at many spots had deteriorated.

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