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Impact evaluation of urban sprawl on inland surface waters of Srinagar city in Kashmir valley

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The present paper investigates the reviewed patterns of urban sprawl on inland surface waters of Srinagar city, which lies in fragile knoll ecosystem of Kashmir valley of Jammu and Kashmir Himalaya. The domino effect points towards unexpected and hit and miss inner-city development and transformation. These transformations have sternly shattered the water bodies both in provisions of area as well as its water quality. The quality of these saintly surface water sources is declining at an alarming rate. The present write up reveals that the scenic beauty of different water bodies such as Dal Lake, Lake Anchar, and river Jhelum which lie in the core area of the Srinagar city are economically degraded and under enormous pollution load. Having ravaged the water bodies, people have happened to be vulnerable to aggravated natural disasters like flooding and water logging in the city. The region experienced a severe flood during September 2014, the most terrible in Kashmir in six decades, which flooded Srinagar city and at slightest 50 villages and killed almost 200 people, and distressed 2 million people across the region. Therefore, it becomes a vital responsibility of the government as well as the local dwelling people or public to preserve the "Paradise on Earth" for coming generations by reducing extra pressure of pollution. Thus, precise management of the main water bodies of Srinagar city is the need of the hour to preserve ecological balance to sustain the Srinagar city.
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Impact evaluation of urban sprawl on inland surface
waters of Srinagar city in Kashmir valley
ROHITASHW KUMAR1*, MUNJID MARYAM2 and MUKESH KUMAR3
Received: 17 May 2020; Accepted: 30 August 2020
ABSTRACT
The present paper investigates the reviewed patterns of urban sprawl on inland surface waters of Srinagar
city, which lies in fragile knoll eco-system of Kashmir valley of Jammu and Kashmir Himalaya. The
domino effect points towards unexpected and hit and miss inner-city development and transformation.
These transformations have sternly shattered the water bodies both in provisions of area as well as its
water quality. The quality of these saintly surface water sources is declining at an alarming rate. The
present write up reveals that the scenic beauty of different water bodies such as Dal Lake, Lake Anchar,
and river Jhelum which lie in the core area of the Srinagar city are economically degraded and under
enormous pollution load. Having ravaged the water bodies, people have happened to be vulnerable to
aggravated natural disasters like flooding and water logging in the city. The region experienced a severe
flood during September 2014, the most terrible in Kashmir in six decades, which flooded Srinagar city
and at slightest 50 villages and killed almost 200 people, and distressed 2 million people across the
region. Therefore, it becomes a vital responsibility of the government as well as the local dwelling people
or public to preserve the “Paradise on Earth” for coming generations by reducing extra pressure of
pollution. Thus, precise management of the main water bodies of Srinagar city is the need of the hour to
preserve ecological balance to sustain the Srinagar city.
Key words: Urban sprawl, Urbanization, Inland surface water, Srinagar, Kashmir Himalaya
Journal of Soil and Water Conservation 19(4): 382-387, October-December 2020
ISSN: 022-457X (Print); 2455-7145 (Online); DOI: 10.5958/2455-7145.2020.00051.X
1Associate Dean, 2Research Scholar, College of Agricultural Engineering & Technology, SKUAST-Kashmir, Srinagar-190025,
Jammu & Kashmir
3School of Agriculture, IGNOU, Maidan Garhi, New Delhi
*Corresponding author Email id: rohituhf@rediffmail.com
INTRODUCTION
Individual actions (change in life style,
urbanization, tourism, agricultural modernization
and land system changes) as well as natural factors
(geology, climate, weathering and soil erosion) have
led to significant decline of inland surface waters,
not only lessening their usage for drinking (Badar
et al., 2013) and irrigation purposes but also taking
a gloomy toll on human health and the
environment. The coverage of extent of the
individual actions on the surface waters has
expedited dramatically during the bygone decades
(Froehner et al., 2010). Spatio-temporal variations
in precipitation, surface runoff, and base flow
fiercely have some bearing on river discharge which
affects the concentration of pollutants in various
water bodies (Zhang et al., 2012).
The Kashmir Valley known for good number
of water bodies has good quality water especially
for human consumption which is the bedrock of
equally its ecology and its economy. Regrettably in
the past few centuries, change in lifestyle and vast
urbanization around these water bodies has led to
pollution, siltation owed to deforestation, and over
exploitation of the numerous streams and lakes
which has resulted in vast pressure on water
resources as reported by Gupta (2016). Scores of
water bodies have shrunk to a small percentage of
their original size. The most important changes
have been seen in Srinagar city, in which half of the
water bodies in and around Srinagar have vanished
over the last century under the high demands of
water, and waywardly managed important
resources due to urbanization and modernization.
Srinagar city, the summer capital of Jammu &
Kashmir Union Territory lies between 34°0´N to
34°15´N latitude and 74°45´E to 75°0´E longitude
at an elevation of 1500 m above mean sea level. The
city has a strong natural heritage of magnificent
lakes and scenic wetlands lying along the
floodplains of river Jhelum. However, over the last
few decades, the enduring water quality (Kumar et
al., 2012; Rashid et al., 2017) and land system
changes (Rashid and Aneaus, 2019) as well as
encroachment of otherwise notified wetland areas
and depleting cascade flows (Mitsch and Gosselink,
IMPACT EVALUATION OF URBAN SPRAWL 383October-December 2020]
2007; Romshoo et al., 2015) have impacted their
health.
Srinagar city has recorded a major spread in
built up area and this is primarily due to population
expansion, lifestyle change which have led to
infrastructure development in consequential and
tertiary occupation structure. However, this built
up extension was chaotic and with an improper
planning. The loss of water assortments of Srinagar
city is credited to overwhelming populace
pressures. The loss of these water assortments of
Srinagar has in fact a bearing on the microclimate
of the city as meteorological information of the city
recording during the last century mentioning a
rising temperature pattern in the mean most
extreme temperatures during the summers. It is
recommended that the ascent in mean yearly
temperature in the territory is because of loss of
water bodies. Additionally, the expansion in
developed land prompts increment in the
temperature during summers because of the effect
of urban heat islands. Another effect of the loss of
water bodies comes in the issues relating to
drainage. Srinagar city is confronting an intense
issue of drainage since these wetlands and lakes
acted as sponges during flood (Rashid and Naseem,
2008). Thus, in the present paper the impact of
urban sprawl and spontaneous urbanization on the
inland surface waters of Srinagar municipality is
reviewed. The paper concludes with suggestions
for upcoming exploration in this circumstance and
provides an example of how a choice of methods
can be employed for preserving these water bodies
from imminent degradation and to look after and
preserve, once the “Paradise on Earth” for
upcoming generations.
Inland surface waters of Srinagar City
The Srinagar city has around exceptionally
celebrated water bodies, which are not merely
tourist attractions but, in several behavior, operate
as support to the city. The chief focus of the present
paper is to look into the impact of land
transformation on water bodies, which is ecological
critical land cover class of the Srinagar city. The
water bodies of the city are characterized by
shallow banks, termed as boggy land, locally
acknowledged as dal-dal. The water bodies (Fig.1)
incorporate river Jhelum, Dal Lake, Anchar Lake,
Brari Nambal, Gilsar and Khushalsar (Fazal and
Amin, 2011).
River Jhelum drains the intact of the city and at
the same time flowing slantways in South East to
North West direction. It is stretched over 454
hectares of the city. Dal Lake is a built-up lake,
situated between 34°5´-34°6´ N latitude and 74°8´
-74°9´ E longitude at a height of about 1,584 m above
mean sea level. The lake has been created because
of riverine activity of river Jhelum (Rather, 2012)
and is fed by Dagwan stream (Sabha et al., 2019).
Fig. 1. Location of inland surface waters in Srinagar city (Dar et al., 2020)
384 KUMAR et al. [Journal of Soil & Water Conservation 19(4)
Transformation of inland surface waters in Srinagar city
The Srinagar city at present has a sum of 1895
hectares of land dwelling under water bodies and
a further 468 hectares of soggy domain (the shallow
banks). All of these have recorded decreases in their
coverage area. Water bodies have inflicted with
degradation in both the area as well as in the trait
of water, where boggy areas have been converted
into built-up realm or hovering vegetable gardens/
floating gardens. The total area under water bodies
was 2,145.5 hectares in 1971, which decreased to
1895 hectares in the year 2008 i.e., decreased by
250.5 hectares, losing its area to crop growing (148
hectares), soggy (92 hectares) and others (3
hectares). Whereas, water bodies gained area from
marsh (35 hectares). Similarly, boggy area has
decreased from 1667 hectares to 468.5 hectares, a
decline of 1198.5 hectares; including cultivation
(1081.5 hectares), plantation/orchards (108
hectares), housing (77 hectares), others (49 hectares)
and water body (35 hectares) (Fazal and Amin,
2011).
Urban land transformation and its impact
The landscapes and water bodies of Srinagar
city are crucial as they not only act as tourist
attractions but are also enfolded with city’s
economic, collective and cultural existence. These
water bodies are also pivotal for ecological poise
of the city. The present reading reveals that the
growth of Srinagar city and land transformation
therein has rigorously exaggerated the aerial extent
of water bodies as well as the trait of water. Table 1
gives an idea of transformation of water bodies in
Srinagar. The noticeable impacts and their
repercussions are as follows:
Table 1. Causes and consequences of transformation of water bodies and marshy areas in Srinagar
Nature and location of transformation Area Main activities Impacts
Transformed,
hectares
(1971-2008)
Water body to Agriculture
West of Dal Lake: Adjoining to 148 Illegal encroachments of the Shrinking of the Lake,
Hazratbal (25 ha) lake area and practices of Sedimentation and
Rainawari (40 ha) agricultural activities especially, pollution.
Lokut Dal (83 ha) floating gardens producing
lots of vegetables.
Water body to Marshy
East of Dal Lake (58 ha) 92 Effluents from houses, hotels, Conversion of Water
Gagribal (17 ha) restaurants and especially of the body to Marsh.
Lokut Dal adjacent to Gagribal (10 ha) house boats lead to over growth
Brarinambal (7 ha) of dense weeds.
Water body to plantation
West of Nageen Lake 7 Tourist related activities Shrinking along the
western side of the lake
Marshy to Agriculture
Both in Lokut and Bud Dal basins 1081.5 Marshy lands are filled to Complete conversion of
in West of Dal Lake (621 ha) convert them into floating Marshy areas to
Dal Lake adjoining to Jogi lankar gardens to produce mainly Agriculture, leading to
(15 ha) and Rainawari (12 ha) vegetables. water logging and
Rakh-i-Gandakshah- Bemina (198 ha) flooding.
Khumani Chowk (243.5 ha)
Marshy to Plantation/Orchard
Southern Khuhalsar (33.5 ha) 108 Urban forestry Significant area under
In Rakh-i-Gandakshah (34 ha) marsh got shrunk
Lokut Dal (24.5 ha) leading to water logging
Brarinambal (16 ha) and flooding.
Marshy to others
Rakh-i-Gandakshah (29 ha) 49 Conversion into built-up land Complete
Some patches in the west of Dal lake transformation of
at Hazratbal (20 ha) marshy area leading to
extinction of this marsh
(Fazal and Amin, 2011)
IMPACT EVALUATION OF URBAN SPRAWL 385October-December 2020]
IMPACTS
River Jhelum
Augmentation of the human population, the
horizontal development of settlements,
encroachments of the watercourses and floodplains,
the redemption of low-lying floodplains of Jhelum
for farming (Rather et al., 2016) have aggravated
the flood lay bare in the Jhelum basin in Srinagar.
With the residential and bungled urbanization of
Jhelum lending impetus, the 2014 flooding attained
catastrophic dimensions. The man-made barriers
are responsible for the high levels of flood waters
in round about areas of floodplains remarkably
around the Srinagar city (Fig. 2). The presence of
the prominent real barriers in the center of the
floodplain controlled the smear of the floodwaters
in areas of the floodplain, by this means growing
the flood water levels in Srinagar municipality
(Romshoo et al., 2018).
Dal Lake
During 1200 A.D., the boundary of Dal Lake
was about 75 or 76 km2 (Wani et al., 2013). The lake
roofed a region of 32 km2 in 1859 and has shrunk
to 24 km2 (including the lake interiors) (Gupta,
2016) predominantly suitable to the increase of
reimbursement areas and proliferation of
settlements (Rashid et al., 2017). The lake supported
the growth of river macrophytes like Eurayle ferox
and Chara sp. but then they were almost pushed to
extinction due to pollution and eutrophication of
the lake. The boatmen (locally called as Ha’enz) are
the foremost culprits in charge for altering the
ecosystem shield of the lake (Fazal and Amin, 2012),
there are guiding principle failures that have led to
the catastrophic degradation of the lake. The land
use and land cover pattern of the lake are presently
self-possessed of open water (10.5 km2), river plants
(8.64 km2), perched gardens (2.89 km2), and
settlements (2.02 km2) (Rashid et al., 2017). During
the past 50 years, the quick rise in houseboats,
inhabitant’s pressure, encroachment, urbanization,
pollution, and sewage has resulted in the decline
of the quality of the lake water (Amin et al.,2014).
About 1200 houseboats (Bhat et al., 2015) present
in the lake are a key foundation of raw sewage and
pollution to the lake (Tanveer et al., 2017). The water
tests or analysis have found high ranking level of
pH value, turbidity, BOD and COD in the waters
of Dal Lake which are presented in Table 2.
Anchar Lake
The present area of the lake is 4.26 km2 (Fazili
et al.,2017). The water supply of Anchar Lake is
maintained by Sindh, a side stream of Jhelum and
Achan Nallah in addition to springs down the
vicinity of the lake. The lake has a substantial
catchment part that constitutes a concoction of
residential, forest, agricultural and horticultural
area (Bhat et al., 2013). The past few decades have
resulted in the degradation of the water quality
feature of the lake (Farooq et al., 2018). The highest
causes of catastrophic degradation of Anchar Lake
are anthropogenic activities, encroachments,
sewage, and dumping of domestic wastes plus
polythene, clothes, plastic bottles, and effluents
from hospitals and wastewater treatment plants
(Bhat et al., 2013; Fazili et al., 2017).
Fig. 2. Breached Jhelum embankments in and around Srinagar city (Romshoo et al., 2018)
386 KUMAR et al. [Journal of Soil & Water Conservation 19(4)
Table 2. Water quality results of Dal Lake
Parameter Value
pH 7.49±0.17
Turbidity 16.87±11.03 N.T.U
BOD 190.80±10.68 mg/l
COD 287.83±11.79 mg/l
(Dar et al., 2017)
CONSEQUENCES
Growth of weeds in water bodies
The land transformations and activities in and
around the water bodies has resulted in hasty
bushes of weeds in the all the water bodies of
Srinagar city, particularly the current full-grown up
weed Azolla pinnata. This has converted the water
into dense boggy land because of assorted nitrogen
and phosphorous effluents dumped by houses,
hotels, restaurants and the house boats, which act
as the manure to these weeds (Fazal and Amin,
2011).
Local climatic change
Number of research studies reported that there
is a rising trend in the maximum temperatures of
Srinagar city. The foremost incentive attributed to
this microclimatic deviation is land transformation
and attenuation of water bodies in the city. Studies
insinuate that mean most temperatures during
summers show a rising trend (Rashid and Naseem,
2008). An examination of regular high temperature
figures in the month of July exhibit to have
increased by about 4 degree Celsius.
Occurrence of floods and water logging
The dwindling and also the squeezing of water
bodies and marshland in Srinagar city has resulted
in higher and amplified incidence of floods and
water logging specifically in and after showery
season. The chief reason logically is the land
transformation, since, these boggy areas and water
bodies used to act as the sponge and undertake in
water, preventing it to spill in low-lying areas of
the city. If the present trend of urban sprawl
continues, there will be further loss of water bodies
and wetlands and thus the flood peril could be a
regular attribute (Fazal and Amin, 2011).
CONCLUSION
The present investigation evidently points out
towards the truth that city development has
devoured a large section of the water bodies and
the boggy areas of Srinagar city and the means is
still continuing. The quality of water is too fading
at a frightening rate. It is an urgent obligation to
defend and preserve these water bodies, once the
“Paradise on Earth” for coming generations. Thus,
accurate management is the need of the hour for
cooperation maintaining ecological poise as
satisfactorily as sustainability of Srinagar city. The
surface waters of Srinagar city are degrading at an
alarming rate generally straight to anthropogenic
pressures and climate change. The main threats to
surface waters in the city include pollution,
siltation, encroachments, urbanization, change in
lifestyle and establishment of hovering gardens.
The paper suggests some critical measures for the
sustainable management of water bodies in
Srinagar city:
i) The prime remedy lies in limiting any
expansion in the settlements in and around
these water bodies and boggy lands. The union
territory’s tribunal in 2003 in this context has
already prohibited all kinds of constructional
projects within 200 meters from the periphery
of Dal Lake that need to be properly
implemented with immediate effect.
ii) The already advanced inhabitants in and
around the lake region must be relocated and
renewed outside the Dal Lake periphery. In this
context, the Jammu and Kashmir Lakes and
Water Ways Development Authority has
already started relocating the local inhabitants
and has made separate colonies for the
rehabilitation of the same. This need to be
completed at a fast rate.
iii) Further, Srinagar city has failed in operating the
sewage treatment plants and as a result all the
untreated sewage is directly disposed of in one
or the other water bodies. This has led to serious
and catastrophic degradation of water quality
and at the same time has affected the aquatic
life too. Thus, there is an urgent need to
immediately wake up to stop this disastrous
activity to protect these important natural
surface waters before it’s too late.
iv) Srinagar city requires a proper site plan of the
settlements in and around the water bodies to
assess the illegal constructions and settlements
and make a master plan of the entire city under
proper urbanization at the earliest.
v) The inland surface waters of the Srinagar city
once a serene ambience, present a pathetic
condition now and thus demands immediate
IMPACT EVALUATION OF URBAN SPRAWL 387October-December 2020]
rehabilitation measures and attention of
governmental and non-governmental
organizations, before it is too late and havocs
like 2014 floods are wreaked again.
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