Anchar Lake: Once a Gem, Now Struggling for Survival
Once a sanctuary for fish and vibrant gardens, Anchar Lake now confronts an uncertain future. The poignant narrative of Anchar Lake in Srinagar unfolds its struggle for survival against illegal dumping, pollution, and neglect.
Once celebrated for its abundant fish, flourishing Nadru, and vibrant vegetable gardens, Anchar Lake in the Soura region of Central Kashmir’s Srinagar district is now grappling with an existential crisis, falling prey to the deleterious impact of illicit dumping sites mushrooming along its pristine shores.
Connected to Dal Lake through the Nallah Amir Khan Water channel, Anchar Lake has undergone a drastic reduction in size, with nearly half of its original expanse diminishing over the past few decades. The critical challenges plaguing the lake encompass administrative neglect, pervasive pollution, insidious siltation, and encroachment, which collectively threaten its very survival.
Once a sought-after tourist haven, Anchar Lake is witnessing a steady decline in its appeal as local residents persist in the unabated disposal of solid waste directly into its waters on a daily basis. The lake, once renowned for its high-quality fish, Nadru, lush vegetable gardens, and chestnuts, has now lost these distinguishing features, lament the locals.
The current dismal state of the lake has exacted a toll on aquatic life, significantly impacting the 93,000 residents dependent on fishing and other related livelihoods. The lake’s dimensions have dwindled from an expansive 19.4 square kilometers to a mere 6.8 square kilometers, transforming it into a receptacle for sewage, residential refuse, and an array of pollutants.
Fareeda Begum, a resident residing on the lake’s periphery, expresses her apprehension as her locale, along with other low-lying areas, is being repurposed as a dumping ground for both domestic and commercial waste. “The lake, once crystal clear and a source of drinking water, is now heavily contaminated,” she laments. The escalating pollution has led to the disappearance of migratory birds, attests Fareeda’s daughter, Shafeeqa.
Local fisherman Mohammad Ashraf mourns the decline in Nadru production, attributing it to the escalating issues of pollution, encroachments, and the precipitous shrinkage of the lake.
Abdul Hameed, whose residence is in close proximity to the dumping site, voices his concern over the routine occurrence of people discarding garbage during morning and evening hours. “This waste, either directly or indirectly, finds its way into the lake. Also, vehicles consistently deposit waste at this location. The pervasive stench has become intolerable, preventing us from opening our windows,” he decries. Hameed fervently urges the government to promptly address this burgeoning crisis.
“The lake, once crystal clear and a source of drinking water, is now heavily contaminated. Strict measures will be enforced to prevent the lake’s shore from turning into a dumping site, and decisive action will be taken against anyone found involved.”
Boatmen engaged in harvesting Nadru from the lake report a substantial drop in production due to the escalating challenges posed by pollution and encroachments.
Furthermore, the local community underscores the adverse impact on water species and emphasizes the lake’s diminishing dimensions over the past few years. They passionately call for an immediate cessation of waste dumping on the lake’s banks.
Despite the collaborative endeavors of authorities, which include the establishment of the Wetland Development Authority (WDA) aimed at safeguarding water bodies, Anchar Lake remains perilously at risk. In response to reports of encroachments, the government pledges action to secure the lake’s future.
Another official asserts his commitment to instruct the relevant department to initiate appropriate actions against those found responsible for disposing of garbage and other solid waste materials in the area. “Strict measures will be enforced to prevent the lake’s shore from turning into a dumping site, and decisive action will be taken against anyone found involved,” he affirms.