SRINAGAR: Sunday has always been a busy day for Khurshid Ahmad Sofi. An artificial jewelery seller who sells bracelets and bangles to tourists in Dal Lake, Kurhsed decided to skip his work on Sunday for a reason. As the sole breadwinner of his family, the 30-year-old joined other villagers and activists to free Sofi Mohalla from solid waste.
More than three quintals of solid waste was removed from the lake bed that day. For the first time, environmentalists and experts cleaned the village, which is only a few kilometers away from Nehru Park.
“During the peak season, I earn 1000 to 1500 rupees. Sunday is the day we work fast. This week I decided to break free and join a cause. We went and collected plastic, polythene and other waste. For the first time, such an initiative was launched in our village,” said Khurshid.
Many firsts were created on that day. For the first time, an Ecological Development Committee (EDC) was created in Dal Lake to conserve the water body.
“This is the first EDC in Dal Lake. We have divided this protection model into three categories – children, youth and seniors. We visited this small village and interacted with the people. After preparing the ground, we brought in our green ambassadors and the administration. We all joined hands and cleaned the area,” Nadeem Qadri, J&K Consultant, Earth Day Network (EDN).
What has become the proverbial icing on the cake is that the village is all set to be declared the first green village in Dal Lake.
“I received a call from our office in Washington and they assured me of all the support for certifying Sophie Mohola as a green village. EDA will formally give them a certificate on April 22. It will be the first green village in Dal Lake. It is a small village with a population of 70 people,” said Nadeem.
Spread over an area of 25 square kilometers, the lake consists of floating gardens, built-up land masses with human settlements and houseboats. Divided into three basins – Hazratbal, Bod-Dal and Nigeen, the lake is the source of drinking water for a large part of the population.
According to the J&K Pollution Control Board’s 2020 report, Srinagar city generates 201 million liters of sewage daily. However, only 53.8 million liters can be treated from existing resources. About 73 percent of the 201 million liters of sewage generated in the city goes into the Dal or Jhelum Lake.
The Jammu and Kashmir government launched the “Save Dal Project” in 2005 to conserve the lake. However, the health of the water body is still a concern.
“Our crusade to conserve Dal Lake will continue. This week we bring a Bollywood actor to the village. He will join our efforts,” Nadeem said.