Srinagar: A little boy's alone mission to rescue the deteriorating Dal Lake
Nadia Farooq

Because of the increasing levels of pollution in the area, Srinagar’s Dal Lake, which was once one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations, has recently started to lose some of its allure. When seen through a lens, the lovely lake that covers 22 square kilometres not only reveals mountains and water waves, but also the plastic bottles, untreated sewage, waste, and other pollutants that are causing the lake to die.

In addition, there are 50,000 households who call the lake their home. A little girl from the lake’s interior, who is just 11 years old, is working to make a change that may point the way to an alternate, public-driven road that leads to a more sustainable future.


For the last eight years, Jannat, a student in the fifth standard, has been responsible for cleaning the lake. She was telling The Kashmir Walla this when she was rowing a boat with her father. “I feel happy when I clear the Lake,” she said. “I would like to make a request to everyone not to throw garbage into the lake.”

Dal lake pollution, jannat srinagar, jannat kashmir environment
Jannat cleaning up the garbage in the Dal lake in Srinagar. The Kashmir Walla commissioned Umer Asif to take this photograph.
Her father shared a video of her on Facebook when she was only three years old, and it served as a source of further inspiration for her. In 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised her achievements and congratulated her. Jannta’s neighbours joined her effort to clean the lake after learning about her efforts from a wider audience.

“After the Dal Lake is cleaned up, I’ll take up another water body for cleaning,” she added, who juggles her volunteer work with her studies. “After the Dal Lake is cleaned up, I’ll take up another water body for cleaning.”

Tariq Ahmad Patoo, 55, Jannat’s father, has been organising cleaning efforts in Kashmir and protests in Delhi demanding for the conservation of the Dal Lake. Both of these events urge for the lake to be preserved. When I was with a German tourist once, he soaked his cigarette in water and then placed it in his pocket. After that, he continued to smoke. Patloo said that the man had informed her that smoking one cigarette would contaminate hundreds of litres of water.

Not only does chemical waste add to the contamination, but so does sewage that has not been handled. According to Manzoor Ahmad, head of the houseboat organisation, there were around 1,700 to 1,800 commercial and residential houseboats in various sections of Srinagar thirty years ago. These houseboats were located all across the city. “Now, they are down to 750 to 800 in all of the area,” he continued.

According to research that appeared in the 2017 issue of the International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research, more than one thousand houseboats are responsible for the generation of more than nine thousand metric tonnes of waste per year, which is then dumped into the lake.

The research also found that fifteen drains are responsible for delivering roughly eighteen tonnes of phosphorus and twenty-five tonnes of nitrogen into the lake.

The constraints of their fairly solitary efforts are something that Jannat’s father is well aware of. It’s a message for the public, he added, even if she can’t clean up the whole lake.



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