TANVEER AHMAD QURESHI WRITES ON THE EFFECTS OF URI HYDROELECTRIC PROJECTS ON THE FINFISH DIVERSITY OF RIVER JHELUM
River Jhelum is the life line of Kashmir, and is the only source of water which passes throughout the valley from South to North. This water body is used for irrigation, domestic purpose and for the generation of hydroelectricity. About 25% of the total population of valley is dependent on this ultimate source as they consume and earn their livings from fish fauna and other resources of this water body.
River Jhelum and its resources are highly renowned all over the country, but due to the anthropogenic activities, it is losing its diversity. The most dreadful reason is that of hydroelectric projects (barrages). Two hydropower stations have been constructed across the river Jhelum namely, the lower hydropower station (L.J.H.P) which is in operation from several decades and the new Mohra hydropower station which was constructed about 20 years ago across river Jhelum. After commissioning of these projects several deteriorative environmental effects have been noticed on the biodiversity of this river. The projects (barrages) exerted highly adverse effects on the population of mighty Mahaseer, Tor putitora (Golden Mahaseer), which flourished a lot in the past but diminished so much so that it has come under endangered category of fish species. As such the local fishes Schizothorax plagiostomus, S. curvifrons, S. esocinus, S. labiatus are also affected adversely and are now rare in catches. The hydropower stations have several deteriorative environmental effects which cause stress in fishes due to alteration in ecology and destruction of feeding and spawning grounds. Thus these hydroelectric projects are sure to lead depletion in fin-fish diversity of respective area.
Scientists opine that one of the aspects of environmental degradation is the altered ecology and destruction of both breeding and feeding grounds due to multipurpose river valley projects. Two major factors are responsible for the dwindling population of fish species by hydropower stations, first the damming of river Jhelum and practically negligible provision of fish ways/fish ladders which created obstacle in free movement of fishes for searching food and breeding grounds and secondly the alterations in ecological features of the region. The state government is spending about 25 crore rupees for beautification of river Jhelum. But what about its fauna and flora and 25% of the total population of Kashmir which is dependent directly or indirectly on this natural wealth.
As the fauna of river Jhelum is getting devastated at a very fast speed, to overcome this disastrous situation of river, some suggestions are recommended for restoration, conservation, protection, development and management of fish fauna of river Jhelum.
Sporadic surveying of the river must be undertaken
Improvement in scientific technologies must be undertaken
Regulation regarding the size of fish that may be taken
Regular biological studies and stock assessment of essential flora and fauna of the river
Amputation of illegal occupants and demolition of latrines along the river bank
Bringing the consciousness among the common people by educating them with environmental awareness route
Prohibition on creating obstructions without fish ways/fish ladders
Regular monitoring of water quality
The capture of brood fish and juvenile needs to be forbidden
Proper watch and ward
In the absence of these measures all the ill effects of Uri hydroelectric projects on the fish biodiversity cannot be minimized. At least we can contribute a bit towards the preservation of resources of river Jhelum by taking care of above mentioned measures. The need of the hour is that proper funding should be provided for development and preservation of fauna and flora of river Jhelum. The State Government is always focusing on the construction of new hydroelectric projects on different water bodies of Jammu and Kashmir but at no point is discussed the ill effects of these projects on the aquatic fauna and flora. Also during the beautification of river Jhelum steps should be taken to see that the tourist flow in this area should not cause any damage to the current fauna and flora of and around the river.
(Tanveer Ahmad Qureshi is a Research Scholar from Department of Applied Aquaculture and Zoology, Barkatullah University Bhopal. Feedback at email@example.com)
Lastupdate on : Wed, 25 May 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 25 May 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 26 May 2011 00:00:00 IST
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