Srinagar, Oct 6: Lotus stem collectors of Kashmir are facing a tough time due to the efforts of the state to clean the Dal Lake. Kashmiri Nadru (lotus stem), which is found beneath the waters of Dal Lake and the Wular Lake, is considered to be delicacy in Kashmir.
Dal Lake is also described to be home to vast stretches of lotus plants. It is believed that Lotus flowers, not only balance the wetland ecosystem, but also adds to the beauty of the lake. But these days the plight of the lake is no better than most of the other water bodies of the country.
The once beautiful lake is receding at a fast pace. The lake today is full of weeds and marshes.
Nadrus obstruct the removal of weeds from the Dal Lake. Therefore the authorities are giving a thought to the removal of Nadru cultivation in order to cope up with the problems of excessive weeds and marshes.
This has been a major cause of worry for Nadru collectors for whom this is the only source of income.
"This is our only business. It's almost 20 years that I have been doing this. The Government says that it would remove this. We request the government not to do that as many people are dependent on this," said Farooq, a Nadru collector.
Most of the people dwelling near the Dal Lake earn their livelihood by collecting Nadru. In order to gather good amount of Nadrus, the collectors leave early morning and stay in water for almost eight hours.
They plunge into the cold water almost three to four times a day and go four to five feet deep under the water to cut the lotus stems.
"It's very difficult. We go down in water three to four times a day. We catch cold often and get hurt even. It's not that easy," said Abdul Ahmad, a Nadru collector.
Bland in taste with a texture somewhere between that of a potato and water chestnut, Nadru is rich in dietary fiber and vitamin C, among other nutrients, as well as low in fat.
The total revenue generated by Nadru is estimated to be about 350 million upees. By Parvez Butt