The Dal Scam

Daily The Kashmir Monitor, in its editorial raises the issue that is Kashmir, land of scams? The latest is racket played in name of development of Dal lake. Though 850 crores have been spent but nothing has changed.



Land of scams:

“It may not be going overboard to call Kashmir the land of scams. With every field of action in the government blotted with dark dots of fraud and deceit, a corruption – monitoring agency – Transparency International – a few years back rated Kashmir as the most corrupt state in India. The latest to figure as yet another racket played in the name of development is the Dal Lake. Officials records show that Rs. 850 crore have been spent on the so called development and protection of the world famous water body but in effect nothing seems to have changed over the years. It is rather waning with each passing day. If the present state of the Dal Lake is anything to go by, there is every reason to believe that the whopping amount drawn from the state exchequer has gone into the sacks of the government officials entrusted with the authority and responsibility of developing the dying water body. The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has, on occasions, expressed its deep anguish over the degrading state of the Dal and issued instructions from time to time to the government to take care or of it. It was under the court directions, that, in 2018, a three –member ‘Committee of Experts’ was constituted to restore and preserve the Dal. The committee, headed by E. Sreedharan, former Chief of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, was formed to ascertain and suggest measures to protect the water body form further degradation and retrieve it to its original glory. The committee was also empowered with roping in any national or even international expert to facilitate in the task of reviving Dal Lake. Nothing, however, is known about the fate or working of the committee. The Dal is virtually in its last throes of death”.


Myth of Restoration:

“Various governments in the past and present have time and again claimed to work for restoration of the glory of the lake. But all the money spent on it appears to have gone down the drains. It is generally believed that the officials responsible for taking care of the Dal have siphoned of most of the funds listed for it. The departments concerned with the maintenance of the lake and keeping it clean are doing just the opposite. There is absolutely no accountability. There is a free for all prevalent everywhere. There is no co-ordination among various departments of the government. The only one thing where co-ordination and cooperation seems supreme is passing of underhand transactions. Dal, for histories, has remained the face of Kashmir and symbol of its beauty. It now likes look an ugliest mark on Kashmir’s face. Both, common people as well government officials have equally vandalized and brutalized this water body. Others simply watched as mute spectators. From 26 sq km of original are, it has now squeezed to around 10 sq km. it is not time to single out the people responsible for the destruction of the Dal. But it is time to take measures to protect whatever little has been left of the Dal. The rot is not restricted to the /dal only. River Jhelum, once known for its pristine and fresh water, is also dying a fast death. Jhelum has virtually turned into a sewerage drain. Every  drain of human waste flows in to the river. Its stinking water is cause of many diseases among the people living o banks of the river. Late Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Saeed had taken some effective measures to restore the beauty of the Dal and Jhelum. Beautification of River Jhelum was his dream project. In his first stint as chief minister, several portions of Jhelum bank were cleaned off encroachment and illegal constructions and were developed beautifully. Mehbooba Mufti, showed some interest in Dal development and she used to take stock of work done on the Dal on weekly basis. People come and go. They are remembered for their actions. The ire and anger notwithstanding, people still remember Jagmohan as a man of ‘development’ in his first tenure. The state has since witnessed a sea of changes. Fragmented into two union territories, Jammu and Kashmir has been reduced to a miniature administrative zone. But the Dal Lake still demands attention. Shall the present dispensation attend the pressing need of the Dal Lake on priority, and also problem the loot done in the name of developing the Dal?”


[Courtesy:  Daily The Kashmir Monitor, Srinagar, Kashmir, December 26, 2019].


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