The Sacrileged Trinity: Nigeen, Khushal Sar and Gil Sar Lakes
Resting near the foothills of Hari Parbat, Nigeen Lake is connected to the Dal Lake via a strait. Though not as majestic and large as the latter, Nigeen has its own charm. With poplar and willow trees lining its banks, this lake proffers a serene sight for all to behold. It is bordered nearly on all sides by human habitation, heavily guarded by their thresholds, however at the same time troubled by these as well.
Khushal Sar Lake rests in Srinagar city and once extended between Zoonimar and Aali Masjid. It is connected to Gil Sar, a smaller 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.
These lakes, both situated in Srinagar city, formed the nucleus of most visited destinations among locals. However, from the last few decades have lost all sheen given the encroachments that eat up most of the lakes’ area. Nigeen, though located on the outskirts of the city near to the Hazratbal shrine, has also managed to incur pollution of all sorts. As a result, all three lakes have suffered tremendously, slandered beyond recognition.
Reason for this slander is quite simple; encroachment along the shores resulting in reduction of lake surface area. When the area shrunk, their importance did too. People started misusing the lakes for their personal gain; degrading environment, and misplacing value, as a consequence of which the lakes turned eutrophic. Devastation in Khushal Sar and Gil Sar lakes is so immense that the water bodies have turned into garbage marshes. As opposed Nigeen is considered a mildly eutrophic lake but as per records, researches, and the impending ignorance of its surrounding population, the lake would soon lose its battle with life.
Numerous vegetable gardens that are set-up in Nigeen and in Dal Lake, as well, worsen the water quality. Artificial fertilizers, finding strong roots within the Kashmiri agriculture community, have resulted in multiple hazardous substances eroding into the lake. This has led to growth of unwanted algal mass over Nigeen. The mass acts as a blanket restricting sunlight and movement of nutrients to all areas of the lake. Anoxic condition, a state of low or no oxygen, thus developed leads to increased eutrophication of Nigeen.
Talking about Khushal Sar, the canal Nallah Mar, when it existed in the 1970s, drained into this lake providing much needed diversity, volume, and flow of water to keep it healthy. However, after the canal’s transformation to a full scale residential and commercial complex, Khushal Sar lacks and is almost parched of water. Even the natural flood control system has failed in Srinagar city; all because of reduced flow from one strait to another, one lake to another. This has resulted in clogging of important waterholes naturally born within the city. The incidence of climate related disasters is also on the increase because of undue fluctuations in the existing channels. What remains of these three lakes is a ghost of their past selves all rendered immobile by the irrelevance attached to these by humans, who don’t recognize their transgression.