By Sarah Aziz

KOLKATA, INDIA — Rosy, who goes by her nickname, was 26 when she was married in Gudoo, a locality within one of the 50 hamlets or small villages bordering Dal Lake in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir’s Srinagar city.

Deemed the “jewel” of Kashmir by the state government, the urban freshwater lake in the Himalayan region attracts tens of thousands of tourists every year from around the globe. It has been for decades the source of water, livelihood and food for the 50,000 locals who reside nearby.

But for those living in the Dal Lake hamlets, clean water is a luxury, waterborne diseases are common and brides for men of marriageable age are elusive.

In 2017, a Right to Information request — an Indian constitutional right that allows citizens to request information under the control of a public authority — found that about 11 million gallons (41.6 million liters) of sewage was released into the lake from the city every day.

Rosy, now 29, told VOA that she “regrets” moving to the Dal Lake area.

“I keep going back to my parents’ house in a different area of Srinagar because there I can use as much water as I like for washing clothes and cooking. You won’t believe it — I can only take a bath once a week. When I need to wash clothes, I have to pick a day and visit my acquaintances in a separate area to use their water. It is torturous living here,” she said.

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