J&K Govt assures judicious use of funds to save Dal Lake

Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government assured judicious use of funds earmarked to save the Dal Lake and sought cooperation of the people in restoring the pristine glory of world famous lake.

"Restoration the pristine glory of Dal Lake is the top priority of the National Conference led government. There should be no misgiving or apprehension on this account," minister of state for Tourism Nasir Aslam Wani told reporters here adding the funds earmarked for the project would be utilised judiciously.

The rehabilitation process of dwellers has started. "We are moving 500 displaced families affected by the Dal conservation drive to Rakh-e-Aarth shortly," the minister said adding 700 plots are available there.

The Centre is fully funding Rs 356 crore rehabilitation project for the Dal dwellers. The money would be utilised for paying compensation for land and structures of the Dal dwellers, so that they can be moved out of the water body, the minister said.

Wani said the rehabilitation of affected families got delayed, as the government wanted to create all facilities for them at the identified place before shifting them there.

"It is our responsibility to create basic facilities for the displaced families. We can't lift them and dump them there."

Claiming that no construction has taken place inside the lake over the past couple of years, he appealed to cooperate with the authorities in restoring the glory of the lake, a major attraction for tourists visiting Kashmir valley.

"Please follow the construction rules. Government will not tolerate violation of rules and will take stern measures," he said adding "People have to cooperate".

Asked about the construction of hotels at Krali Sangri hillock overlooking the lake, Wani refused to comment saying "The matter is sub-judice."

"I will look into the matter and see whether construction work was still going on," he said in reply to another question.

The minister strongly denied reports suggesting funds earmarked for Dal Lake have been diverted to other projects. "There is no question of diversion of funds from the Dal lake project. The golf course was already operational in 2002 and hence there was no requirement of funds," he said.

Asked to comment on allegations that poor families are being displaced, while the rich are left untouched, Wani said clear directions have been passed to the concerned to follow the rules strictly. "I assure you that there will be no discrimination."

He said all the hotels along the Boulevard Road will be connected with the Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) so that their garbage do not flow directly to the Lake.