Bandipora, Jan 6: The Khurwan Sar Lake, once a renowned water body in the Sumbal area of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district, is rapidly becoming a pollution hotspot as various forms of waste, including garbage, liquid waste, human excreta, and industrial waste, are being disposed of directly or indirectly into the lake, contributing to its environmental degradation.
Locals said that a decade ago, the lake served as the main source of drinking water for the Sumbal area, but now it paints a grim picture due to pollution. “Over the past several years, the lake has been significantly impacted by encroachment, and despite the government’s lack of initiative in safeguarding it or intervening to halt the disposal of garbage, the lake’s condition continues to deteriorate with each passing day,” they said.
Abdul Majeed, a local resident, said that a decade ago, they used to visit the lake for fishing when the water was completely clear and crystal. People even used to bathe in it during those times. The area, which was three times larger compared to today, has now become a victim of encroachment from all sides.
He expressed concern that all the garbage coming from across Sumbal is being dumped directly or indirectly into the lake, posing a significant threat to its environmental legacy. Despite this, there is a lack of attention or care for the lake, and it is feared that it is not far from facing a silent death.
Abdul Aziz, another local resident, suggested that the government swiftly restore the river to its former glory for preservation. Also, he said that there is need for preventive measures to stop the practice of dumping garbage into it.
“Migratory birds that used to visit the lake have not been observed in the past couple of years, possibly due to increasing pollution,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, another local resident.
Bashir Ahmad, a boatman who previously ferried locals for fishing and other activities on this lake, expressed the difficulties he now faces in rowing the boat due to escalating pollution. He mentioned, “If we navigate near those areas resembling garbage dumping sites, no one would ever want to visit the lake.
An official stated that he personally visited the lake recently and recognized the environmental challenges it is currently confronting, along with encroachment issues requiring joint efforts from the administration and civil society to restore its lost glory.
Furthermore, he mentioned that a Detailed Project Report (DPR) has been submitted to higher authorities, outlining plans for restoration. “Also, a suitable dumping site will be identified, ensuring scientific disposal of garbage to prevent harm to the environment and public health,” he said.