Mountain bikers spreading a message to save Kashmir's Dal Lake

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Srinagar, Sep 6 (ANI) : A group of 107 mountain bikers embark on a journey to Ladakh region in Kashmir to spread awareness about the need for saving Dal Lake.

The rally, which set off from New Delhi on August 26, has pass through Srinagar and end the campaign in Ladakh.

Raw sewage, land encroachment and neglence over maintaining cleanliness are threatening the survival of a world famous Dal Lake. Thousands of tonnes of sewage spew into the lake, feeding weeds and choking the lake and its aquatic life of oxygen.

Visitors from Mughal emperors to George Harrison once enjoyed the idyllic stillness of its waters surrounded by the Himalayan mountains in Dal Lake.

But with militant violence at it's lowest ever in last two decades, authorities say they can now focus on conserving the Dal Lake.

The Jammu and Kashmir Governmnent has already cleared a multi-million dollar clean up project of the Lake, which could see the mass removal of some 60,000 people living off its waters.

S. Venkatnarayanan, Programme Coordinator, said the aim of the expedition was to raise awareness about the need to preserve Dal Lake.

"Currently there are two environmental projects one is the Dal Lake cleaning project other is the Rohtang Pass cleaning project. We have completed the Rohtang Pass cleaning project in the month of May. Now we have come to Dal Lake, "Venkatnarayanan said.

He added that, "Dal Lake is not only the property of, Jammu and Kashmir. It's also the pride heritage of India that's why we feel if Dal Lake is clean people will come here every year and there will be more tourists here every year."

Shashikant Wagaly, one of the members of the mountain biking team from Gujarat said through this expedition they wanted to spread the message of peace.

"Through this expedition we wanted to spread the message across the world that there should be peace at the international level and there should be concern for the environment and the youth should love adventure more," Wagaly said.

The lake's size has been halved in a few decades, to some 13 square km due to farming land encroachment.

A study 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, which was consumed by humans.

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

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