Srinagar, Mar 6 (ANI): The houseboats in Kashmir got a breather in the form of mini Sewage Treatment Plants that are being installed by the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LWDA), to prevent the sewage from the houseboats from further polluting the scenic Dal Lake.
After a court ordered the closure of these houseboats dotting the Dal Lake, as it was felt that they were polluting the lake by its discharge of liquid and human waste, the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority had launched a massive drive against the houseboats and hotels around the lake.
Raw sewage, land encroachment and years of neglect have been threatening the survival of the lake.
With the installation of these mini sewage treatment plants, the authorities hope it will prevent further pollution of the lake and will solve many of their problems by acting on bacteria, removing the pollutants and harmful chemicals and releasing treated water into the lake.
Initially, only four such plants are being installed to check the effectiveness of this drive, but soon more plants will be installed.
"This will solve many of our problems. So far it has been installed in two houseboats and the reports are positive. It (plants) of four different companies were to be installed in four houseboats and the one which is best will be selected. It is a breather for us," said Sabah-Ul-Solim, Senior Scientist, LWDA.
The houseboat owners seemed quite relieved by the initiative and hoped it would work.
"There are around 1200 houseboats in Dal Lake. During the peak season the place is choked with visitors. So there is lot of sewage during that period which flushes into the lake, but once we have this system in place obviously we will be having a very good impact on the lake ecology," said Azim Tuman, President, Houseboat Owners Association.
Environmentalists say thousands of tonnes of sewage spew into the lake, feeding weeds and choking the lake and its aquatic life of oxygen.
The lake's size has been halved in a few decades, to some 13 square km (Eight square miles), due to farming land encroachment.
A study in 2007 by the state's Comptroller and Auditor General reported that the lake has excessively high levels of toxic metals due to sewage. Pollutants were accumulating in the fish and water consumed by humans.
Tests of water samples showed arsenic levels were almost 1,000 imes above
The scenic Dal Lake in the heart of Srinagar, is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and is home to 2,000 ornately-carved pinewood houseboats, whose owners are still dependent on tourism. By Parvez Butt (ANI)