Ideally, the Government should have expressly dedicated funding for the rejuvenation of these two lakes, which are not only significant but also represent Kashmir and play a key role in maintaining the ecological and hydrological balance. Furthermore, the flood mitigation plan, which also should have been the primary focus of the Budget, has gone unmentioned. Instead, the name Dal Lake has appeared only twice in the Budget, once for the initiation of water-based activities—to encourage tourism—and once for sewage control, while the bigger picture is ignored.
The same treatment has been given to Wular Lake, one of the biggest freshwater lakes in South Asia. Only two times in the budget has it been addressed, once for the beginning of the water sports activities and once for the de-silting. The government appears to have ignored the bigger issue, which is the revitalization and restoration of both lakes which have over time become choked, filthy, and smaller. The Budget should have highlighted the significance of these two lakes and other water bodies, specifically, and allocated sufficient funds for bringing these water bodies back to life. Only that would have projected the focus and real commitment of the Government towards the preservation of the ecology in Kashmir. Instead, the Budget has focused on tourism and almost nothing has been done—as a plan—to protect these water bodies.
Since the budget doesn’t even mention the flood mitigation plan, it is clear that the government is not even interested in implementing it. This indicates that the plan, which was proposed shortly after the devastation of the 2014 floods, will remain in cold storage, and that instead, the government would prefer to spend money enhancing the Jhelum River Front. The Finance Minister’s Budget may be regarded as one of the greatest for J&K to date, but one thing is certain: it has overlooked ecological conservation in Kashmir. The budget should have gone above and above, focusing on the long-term rejuvenation of the Dal and Wular lakes, that too, on a mission mode, including prioritising the flood control strategy, which was sadly not done. This is not what people expected, their wishes were higher. The priority of the Government could be anything, but it certainly is not the protection and restoration of water bodies; let alone having a flood mitigation plan implemented.
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