Khushal Sar and Gil Sar were once pristine lakes, today they are dumping grounds
Srinagar: After Jammu and Kashmir government completely failed to save two lakes of Srinagar, Khushal Sar and Gil Sar, locas have taken initiatives to restore the two lakes.
Khushal Sar Lake rests in Srinagar city and once extended between Zoonimar and Aali Masjid but now it has been considerably reduced. It is connected to Gil Sar, a small lake in comparison to Khushal Sar, by a narrow strait and to Anchar Lake via a channel. Over this strait spans the Gil Kadal Bridge. Gil Sar, on the other hand, is connected to Nigeen through Nallah Amir Khan.
Khushal Sar and Gil Sar Lake was once a vast and thriving water body and a source of livelihood for many. Today, however, the lake is in a sorry state with widespread encroachments, illegal construction and landfills.
As per the locals, the government has time and again failed to stop encroachers from grabbing state land which has led to the shrinking of the two lakes and turned it into a cesspool.
A local, Manzoor Ahmad Wangnoo who is also chairman of houseboat owners association recalled the status of these lakes four decades ago, “lotus stems or Nadru used to grown in these lakes and it used to be home for variety of fish species. Water was in the purest form that people used to perform ablution for prayers with this water. Children used to swim in these lakes to beat the summer heat. There were around three thousand fishermen whose livelihood depended on these lakes but with time, the negligence of government made these lakes polluted and all the fish species died which forced fishermen to migrate to Manasbal lake.”
Meanwhile, Wangnoo along with his friends have started an initiative “Ehsaas” to retrieve the two lakes from further encroachment.
On February 21, a cleaning drive was kicked off by Manzoor Wangnoo in collaboration with an NGO, Nigeen Lake Conservation Organisation (NLCO) and few others to clean the lakes.
“I visited the Khushal Sar and Gil Sar in January and after seeing its conditions my heart broke. The lakes were in devastating conditions. I could not stand for a minute there as foul smell choked my breath. The lakes which were once attraction for the thousands of foreign tourists and were home to thousands of fishermen have now turned into garbage marshes,” Wangnoo told Free Press Kashmir.
Next day Wangnoo held a meeting with Divisional Commission and sought support from different department including Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC) and Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA).
Wangnoo however said that LAWDA did not provide any kind of support to clean the lakes.
“There is a famous saying, where there is a will, there is a way. Government has for the last four decades sanctioned crores of money for cleaning of lakes yet they could not do it despite having all the resources. We want to show them with just few lakh rupees and less resources available, we will make the lakes alive again,” Wangnoo said, adding that he did not receive any financial help from the government however, he and many people have contributed money for cleaning of these lakes.
Vice Chairman, LAWDA, Tufail Matto did not respond to the repeated calls and messages from Freepress Kashmir.