Srinagar, Apr 11 : Pump sets flushing out dirty water, dredging machines shoveling out sewage deposits, workers wading knee-deep in water, all this and more meets the eye these days at Kashmir's scenic Dal Lake.
One of the most picturesque fresh water lakes in the country, the Dal Lake has been a silent victim of neglect and illegal construction for the past 30 years.
Dal Lake, which dominates Srinagar, the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir has shrunk to nearly half its size from 25 square kilometers (9.7 square miles) to 13 square kilometers (5 square miles), after being flooded by untreated sewage from Srinagar's homes and houseboats.
Thousands of tonnes of silt from the hills stripped of trees, flow into its waters every year.
Plastic bags thrown by tourists and weed and algae add onto its woes.
Senior citizens of the valley reminisce the golden days when the lake was sparkling clean, quite unlike its present state.
"This lake used to be sparklingly clean at one time. It was so clean that we used the water for drinking purposes. Now, it has become polluted. We appreciate the steps taken by the authorities to clean up the lake. During the summers, it becomes difficult for us to sit outside our houses because of the mosquito menace and the stench is unbearable. But with the government's efforts, we hope to see it restored to its original glory," said Younis Wani, a resident.
The State's Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), has launched a massive dredging operation to restore the blocked waterways, which would lend a fresh lease of life to the dying lake, marred by pollution.
With an estimated budget of rupees 24.5 million, authorities are hopeful of opening the clogged sewage lines around the lake by 2009.
"By March 2009 I hope that total sewage system around the lake should be a reality," said Mir Naseem, Vice Chairperson, LAWDA.
The authorities might be upbeat about their initiative, the residents are skeptical.
"We are happy with their initiative but they should continue with the cleaning process and not leave it in between. They should take care of the polythenes that add on majorly to the pollution in the lake," said Ali Mohammed, a resident. By Suhail Ahmad