Houseboat owners in Kashmir launch save Dal lake campaign

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Srinagar, Mar 21 (ANI): Houseboat Owner's Association has launched campaign to spread awareness among the residents as well as tourists about Dal Lake.

Raw sewage, land encroachment and years of neglect have threatened survival of the lake.

Members of the Association are now pasting banners and poster with the message of protecting the lake on houseboats and Shikaras (Canoe).

"Dal Lake is heavily dependent upon tourists. And our business is also dependent upon tourists. So there should be cleanliness here then only we can move forward. If this Dal Lake would be dirty then tourists will also face problems. So it is very good step taken by the authorities to clean Dal Lake as it would be very good for health as well as for our business," said Shabir Ahmad, owner of Shikara.

People of Srinagar, including houseboat owners and Shikara owners, are very happy with this awareness campaign that would help in saving Kashmir's famous heritage.

"The steps are being taken by the Association is very good step to save Dal," said Nisar Ahmad, a houseboat owner.

Environmentalists say thousands of tons of sewage spew into the lake, feeding weeds and choking the lake and its aquatic life.he lake's size has been halved due to farming land encroachment in a few decades, to some 13 square km.

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 water, which was consumed by humans.

Tests of water samples showed that arsenic levels were almost 1,000 times above permissible levels.

Farmers regularly encroach into the lake, often planting trees. Multi-story buildings and small crafts factories have been erected on what officials say are illegal land fills.

Environmentalists and officials are pressing the hundreds of houseboats on the lake, many catering to tourists, to stop dumping waste into the lake.

Many houseboat owners, desperate for tourists, say they are willing to stop, but need the infrastructure to do it. (ANI)

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