Srinagar, Jan 3: Once renowned for its fish, Nadru, and lush vegetable gardens, Anchar Lake in the Soura area of Central Kashmir’s Srinagar district is now struggling for survival as it has become a victim of illegal dumping sites being made on its shores.
The lake, linked to Dal Lake through the Nallah Amir Khan water channel, has faced a drastic reduction in size, nearly half of its original area, over the past few decades due to administrative neglect, rampant pollution, siltation, and encroachment.
Formerly, a sought-after tourist destination, Anchar Lake is losing its allure as the nearby residents continue to dispose of solid waste directly into its waters on a daily basis. The lake, once famous for high-quality fish, Nadru, vegetable gardens, and chestnuts, no longer exhibits these features, according to locals.
According to locals, the current state of the lake has taken a toll on aquatic life, impacting the 93,000 residents who rely on fishing and other sources of income. The lake’s size has dwindled from 19.4 sq. km to just 6.8 sq. km, transforming it into a dumping ground for sewage, residential trash, and various pollutants.
Fareeda Begum, residing on the lake’s shores, expresses concern as her area, along with other low-lying areas, is being used as a dumping site for domestic and commercial waste. “The lake, once crystal clear and a source of drinking water, is now heavily contaminated,” she said. Migratory birds have vanished due to growing pollution, according to Fareeda’s daughter, Shafeeqa.
Local fisherman Mohammad Ashraf laments the decline in Nadru production, attributing it to pollution, encroachments, and the lake’s fast shrinkage.
Abdul Hameed, whose home is in close proximity to the dumping site, expressed concern over the daily occurrence of people disposing of garbage during morning and evening hours. “This waste, either directly or indirectly, finds its way into the lake. Also, vehicles are consistently leaving garbage at this location. The pervasive smell has become intolerable, preventing us from opening our windows,” he said. Hameed urges the government to address this issue promptly.
Boatmen harvesting Nadru from the lake report a significant drop in production due to pollution and encroachments.
Furthermore the locals highlight the adverse impact on water species and note the lake’s shrinking dimensions over the past few years. They call for an immediate halt to waste dumping on the lake’s banks.
Despite the concerted efforts of authorities, including the establishment of the Wetland Development Authority (WDA) to protect water bodies, Anchar Lake continues to be at risk. The government, responding to reports of encroachments, pledges action to secure the lake’s future.
Another official asserted that he would instruct the relevant department to initiate appropriate actions against those found responsible for disposing of garbage and other solid waste materials in the area. “Strict measures will be enforced to prevent the lake’s shore from turning into a dumping site, and decisive action will be taken against anyone found involved,” he added.