Arrests over Kashmir lake pollution

Arrests over Kashmir lake pollution

Srinagar, 6 September Police in Kashmir said they have arrested five people for throwing rubbish into a mountain-ringed lake to send a tough message to polluters destroying the picturesque area.

Pollution is turning Srinagar’s Dal lake, the main tourist draw in the region, into a weed-clogged swamp and is hampering the recovery of the tourism sector in the insurgency-wracked Himalayan state.

“We arrested five people for throwing garbage into the water," police inspector Mohammed Ishaq told AFP. “We want to send a clear but tough message that defiling of Dal will not be tolerated."

Dal Lake is famed for its ornately-carved cedar houseboats, floating market and ring of lofty Himalayan peaks. It was on the banks of the lake that the late Beatles guitarist George Harrison studied the sitar.

But in the past two decades it has shrunk by more than half to 11 square kilometres (4.2 square miles) and lost 12 meters (40 feet) in depth.

Cleaning up the lake is vital to tourism as visitors begin to return to Indian Kashmir amid moves by India and Pakistan to end their half-century dispute over the Himalayan territory that both claim.

Environmentalists have been demanding a blanket ban on use of polythene bags around lake Dal.

“Every Tuesday, we collect tonnes of garbage, mostly polythene bags and plastic bottles from the water body. Unless the authorities impose a blanket ban on polythene near Dal, the menace can’t be checked," says Syed Ishrat of Green Global Peace.

Last September, a court slammed authorities for not doing enough to save the Dal Lake, saying it had become “a slum."