Srinagar: Harmful substances like phosphates, nitrates, and chlorides have increased significantly in Dal lake in the last 40 years, according to the latest study.
In the heart of Srinagar, Dal Lake is unique in that over 50,000 people inhabit the lake itself in houseboats, dongas, or islands within the lake. These people derive their livelihood from the lake in terms of tourism, agriculture, ﬁshing, and vegetable farming.
However, it has witnessed extreme loss in water quality during the last four decades because of human activities.
Titled `The changing water quality of lakes—a case study of Dal Lake, Kashmir Valley’, the study was published by Environmental Monitoring and Assessment journal in 2022.
The study was conducted to evaluate the changes in the water quality of Dal Lake since 1970.
It was found that the concentration of harmful substances like phosphates, chlorides, and nitrates has increased tremendously over the years. “Concentration of total phosphorus has increased from 0.1 to 0.4 mg/l in 1997 to about 6 mg/l in 2017. Similarly, chlorides have shown a steep increase from 2–2.7 mg/l 329 in 2007 to 10.3 mg/l in 2017,” the study said.
Other elements like calcium and magnesium, according to the study, have also witnessed an increasing trend in the lake.
The study indicated that dissolved oxygen (DO) levels, on the other hand, have shown a signiﬁcant decline. “DO is the amount of oxygen present in water. It is essential for the survival of fish and other aquatic organisms. Annual DO values of the lake have decreased from 7.4 mg/l in 1997 to 6.9 mg/l in 2017.”
Co-Author of the research paper, Dr. Rohitashw Kumar said changes caused due to these factors have aﬀected the lake water quality to such an extent that these cannot be corrected naturally, and if proper and timely measures are not implemented, the chances of lake survival are bleak.
“Therefore, there is an urgent need to address the problems associated with lake restoration, management, and conservation by both authorities and the local population,” he said.
He stressed that a participatory approach-based conservation plan taking into consideration the restoration of water quality and quantity, considering all stakeholders, is the need of the hour to stop the lake from dying an untimely death.