Wullar conservation project launched
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Garoora (Bandipora), Dec 7: Maintaining that preservation of water bodies and forests was imperative to check climate change in the State, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today launched conservation project of Asia’s largest freshwater lake, Wullar, here.
On the occasion, Omar could not control his emotions and rediscovered his childhood memories associated with the pristine glory of the lake.
“I vividly remember that in my childhood, I used to visit Wullar for picnic. It had huge expanse of crystal clear water offering infinite view as if one was seeing a sea. But now I yearn to see the Wullar of my childhood,” Omar said in an emotional tone as people, who had gathered to witness the ambitious project’s launching, listened patiently.
“Whenever I fly in a helicopter over Wullar, I weep over its condition. I can’t believe that it is the same Wullar which in the past could be clearly viewed from the outer space. The Wullar we have seen has disappeared,” Omar said.
Omar referred to a popular column ‘Khazr Sochta Hai Wullar Ke Kinaray’ in vernacular newspaper Aftab which was written by its Editor and Valley’s prominent journalist late Khwaja Sanaullah. “As destiny would have it, neither there is Khazr is with us nor the Wullar. We can’t get Khazr back but I promise to return pristine glory of Wullar,” Omar said as people reciprocated with thundering claps.
However, Omar interrupted the audience saying, “We as people are responsible for Wullar’s vandalisation.”
“We thought even if we encroach upon the lake or plant trees in it, it won’t have any impact on it. Erratic climatic change is a result of damage to our eco-system. If we don’t mend our ways and attitude towards environment, our younger generation will only hear about names of Wullar and Dal Lake,” Omar said.
Elaborating, Omar pointed out that in December, Kashmir used to receive snowfall. However, from past few years, even in a place like Gulmarg we yearn for rains. Now we have understood the significance of conservation of Wullar. I congratulate Mian Altaf (Minister for Forests and Environment) for getting the Rs 120 crore Wullar restoration project approved and hope that it would be successfully accomplished,” Omar added.
The CM said the management plans and conservation strategies put in place by the Government for the preservation of water bodies and forests are aimed at maintaining the ecological balance in the State.
He said the project would give employment to people of Bandipora and enhance its tourism potential and asked the concerned authorities to utilize local manpower in the project’s execution.
“Preservation of water bodies and forests was imperative to check erratic climate change in the State,” he added.
Later Omar kick-started the Comprehensive Wullar Management Action Plan. On the occasion, Mian Altaf said it was due to unflinching efforts of the CM that the Wullar Conservation Project was approved.
“It is a historic day that work on the project has finally started. We are committed to restore Wullar’s glory,” Altaf said.
Castigating the opposition PDP for launching propaganda against the Government, Altaf enumerated achievements of the coalition government during past three years.
“There is massive unemployment here and this problem can be addressed by strengthening tourism sector. I am hopeful that after restoration of Wullar’s glory, the whole district will become a tourism hub,” Altaf said.
Altaf said when the National Conference-led coalition Government assumed power, there was writ of timber smugglers in the forests in the State. “Today, I can proudly say that we have enforced our writ in the forests. We are committed to save water bodies and forests of the State,” he added.
Among others, Speaker Legislative Assembly Muhammad Akbar Lone, MLA Nazir Gurezi besides officials of various departments were present on the occasion.
Pertinently, a few decades ago Wullar acted 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 formed an important habitat for migratory water birds within Central Asian Flyway and supported rich biodiversity. However, due to massive encroachments and siltation, the lake has been reduced from 273 sq kms to less than 70 sq kms.
The conservation plan envisages Wullar’s water and land resources management, bio-diversity conservation, livelihood improvement besides institutional development.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Dec 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Dec 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Dec 2011 00:00:00 IST
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