Dal Dwellers Face Eviction, Lose Livelihood in Name of Lake Conservation

Reported by

Rabiya BashirLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

February 8, 2021

Location of Conflict


Reason or Cause of Conflict

Urban Development (Other than Smart Cities)

Dal Lake conservation project



People Affected by Conflict


Land Area Affected (in Hectares)



Starting Year



Jammu and Kashmir



The Dal dwellers, who have been living on the banks of Dal Lake in Srinagar for generations, have been forcefully evicted by the state in the name of conservation of the lake. These people comprise fishermen, vegetable sellers, houseboat owners and shikara riders, belonging to the Hanji community. The eviction drive, which began in 2011, is seen as a move to implement the 'Save the Dal Lake' conservation project, which was introduced in 1971 under various nodal agencies or departments. According to the state's Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), the estimated project cost is INR 500 crore. The project comprises two components: conservation and rehabilitation. While fruitful conservation efforts are yet to be seen, the state is facing backlash for its rehabilitation effort. Following the eviction, the government plans to relocate the Dal dwellers and shift their houseboats to Doledum area, 15 kilometres from the lake.  Over the years, some of the evictees have been shifted to Rakh-e-Arth in Srinagar. This is a wetland and is not suitable for any kind of construction and living. Many of the houses that the government constructed for rehabilitation have developed cracks or have skidded off, risking the lives of families residing there. They are distressed as their livelihood is totally dependent on the lake.  Although the affected people accepted the compensation package of INR 1 lakh per family offered by the government, they have realised it is not enough to cover their losses and have demanded that the government relocate them back to the lake. Dal Lake is home to and the main source of livelihood for a population of more than 50,000, a majority of them belonging to the Hanji community. The lake houses 700 houseboats and 2,700 shikaras. The Hanji community earns their livelihood from the lake by engaging in various activities, such as fishing, growing vegetables like nadru (lotus stem) and haak (green leafy vegetable), ferrying tourists in shikaras and collecting water lilies for cows, although some of them also practise farming. As part of the conservation of the lake, more than 2,000 families have been forcefully evicted from 75 hectares of land so far, as told to LCW by a junior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. In the process, their movable assets, including livestock and agricultural produce and equipment, have also been displaced. The Dal dwellers have called their forced rehabilitation to Rakh-e-Arth human rights violation. Speaking to a news channel in February 2020, they threatened Back to Dal programme if the government fails to reconstruct their houses on the banks of the lake and provide them means of livelihood. As per the government's estimate, the Dal dwellers reside in 111 mohallahs in the interiors of the lake. About 320 families own dunga boats (smaller version of a houseboat that is movable and is used to ferry passengers within the lake), 758 families own houseboats (for commercial purpose), 3,009 families live in huts and 5,928 families in live in concrete houses.  Ghulam Rasool Akhoon, president of Dal Dwellers Welfare Union, told LCW that focusing on the Hanji community diverts public attention from the dismal administrative performance of the government authorities, including the states judiciary. The eviction is another attempt to use the Hanji community as a scapegoat for the deterioration of the Dal. They must get appropriate compensation as per their property values and also be relocated to the Dal Lake, he added.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

To be relocated to the Dal Lake and fair compensation

Region Classification


Type of Land


Type of Common Land

Total investment involved (in Crores):


Type of investment:

Cost of Project

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?


When did it end?

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Land Acquisition Laws

Legislations/Policies Involved

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Legal Status:

In Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

High Court of Jammu and Kashmir

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:


Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Dal dwellers were forcefully evicted from their land.

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Dal Lake

Nature of Protest


Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

J&K Lakes and Waterways Development Authority

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
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Documented By

Rabiya Bashir

Reviewed By

Rabiya Bashir

Updated By

Rabiya Bashir

Edited By

Rabiya BashirLand Conflict Watch

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