House Committee asks Govt to conserve Wullar lake

SYED BASHARAT. Dated: 8/12/2012 12:07:32 AM

SRINAGAR, Aug 11: The Asia’s largest freshwater lake ‘Wullar’ has shrunk to half its size due to massive plantation and subsequent reduction in water holding capacity, state government authorities have reported to the House Committee on environment.
Quoting a survey conducted by Wetland International-South Asia, M Y Tarigami, MLA Kulgam and chairman House Committee on environment said: “The survey states that area of the lake in 1911 was 217 sq kms but it has now reduced to around 100 sq kms.”
Encroachment by locals and various government departments including social forestry, soli conservation department, rural development, and forests during last 100 years has resulted into deterioration of water quality and total area of this freshwater lake, Tarigami who along with some of his committee members conducted an extensive tour of the Wullar Lake observed.
Tarigami believes that unfortunately the environment ahs never been a priority area and the successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir have failed to conserve and develop this lake. “Had our governments been serious about the environmental issues which are now a priority area in the whole world, the Wullar Lake would not have suffered because of the ill planning and official apathy!” the chairman House committee on Environment remarked.
Presently, Wullar Development Authority is the caretaker of the Lake but the department has miserably failed to preserve pristine glory of this world famous freshwater body. The House Committee on environment has been informed that around 22 lakh trees exist mostly in and around the Lake.
A mega conservation project worth Rs 386.39 Crores was prepared to treat Wullar Lake by wetland International-South Asia in 2007. However, 13thfinance commission government of India agreed to provide Rs 120 Crores for this project. Out of Rs 120 Crores, Rs 30 Crore has already been allocated to the forest department.
Abdul Razaq, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) on Wullar Lake (forest department) says the department has proposed formation of a board to the government that will be called as Wullar Conservation and Management Authority and the proposal is under active consideration of the government.
“We have already started demarcation of the Lake and the job is 90 per cent complete,” said Razaq, adding that once the demarcation is completed, boundaries of the lake would be determined and the department will go for treatment of its catchments area that comprises of various rivulets and streams flowing in the lake.
“Then we plan to go for ensuring an increase in water holding capacity by drudging and de-silting and removal of plantation in the Lake. Besides all these technicalities, we plan for an institutional development for conservation of this prestigious Lake,” the OSD Wullar Lake informed.
Surrounded by the lofty mountains in north Kashmir, Wullar acts as a huge absorption basin for the annual floodwaters, maintaining a balance in the hydrographic system of the Valley. The lake with its associated wetlands is an important habitat for migratory water birds within Central Asian Flyway and supports rich biodiversity and is major fishing resource of the Valley.



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