Revival of Western Foreshore Road project: Another disaster in making
By: (Bashir A. Guroo, Tariq Patloo, M.Ashraf Guroo, Yaseen Tuman, Hanief Kawa)
Revival of Western Foreshore Road project is being vigorously contemplated by the Lakes & Waterways Development Authority for quite some time now. If the authority goes ahead with this proposal, it will be catastrophic for what little has remained of the fragile ecosystem of the Dal Lake. Work on construction of a metalled road from Hotel Mumta to Saidakadal for vehicular traffic was abandoned in 1987-88, after the World Bank stopped funding the project. In 1978, a New Zealand based consortium, ENEX did not approve of this project either as it would destabilize the ecology of the lake. Mr. Aijaz Rasool, former Executive Engineer of LWDA, and an expert on Hydro Engineering, had voiced his concern as well stating that construction of this road would block free flow of water towards Baba Demb, Nawpora, Gurupur, Jogilanker, Rainawari and other adjoining areas. In 2000, the scientists of the-then Roorki University in their Vision Report had strongly recommended that the 1.3 km road which was already laid, before work on it was abandoned, should be removed on war footing, and the area damaged due to wanton filling of building material restored. Late Jag Mohan during his first tenure as governor of the erstwhile state of J&K ordered immediate suspension of all road building activities on Western Foreshore following his visit to the area. However, LWDA is now planning to roll out the project in total disregard to the recommendations made in the Vision Report. A blueprint of the road has already been prepared.
Meanwhile, the authors have been in contact with Dr. Rakesh Kumar, Head of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, to whom the job for recommendations has been sourced out. During an informal telephonic chat on this issue, Dr. Kumar made this shocking revelation that he was being hard pressed to provide clearance so that construction on the 3.5 km long road, along the western foreshore of Dal Lake, could begin. He was of the view that the proposed road will be an environmental disaster. It will not only choke vital water channels of the Dal Lake but will also have a destabilizing effect on its extremely fragile ecosystem. Voices of concern are also being heard in public circles against the revival of this project as it could prove to be yet another Nallah Mar in the making.