The Bijbehara Wetland
The younger generation even doesn’t know that there was a wetland called Nadeir Sar’
LOSS BY SYED AADIL
Kashmir from times immemorial has been a place known for its rich biodiversity and a distinct ecology. The natural distribution of mountains and plains, forests, lakes, streams, rivers, and karewas makes it a place of that can be called a ‘near perfect environment’. That is why people often call it a heaven on earth.
But recent times have proven to be of great damage to this rich ecology and biodiversity. The chastity of environment has fell prey to a severe assault by the ‘crown of creation’ whether holding an administrative position or a commoner.
The Bijbehara Wetland known as ‘Nadeir Sar’ is one such example of public and administrative hostility towards the ecological richness. This wetland on the outskirts of river Jhelum alongside the Srinagar-Jammu Highway was once a rich source of Nadur and refuge for large number of migratory birds, but is nowhere to be seen now.
The wetland spread over a good area and surrounded by a swamp double the size of it was not only of ecological importance but served a recreational purpose as well. Recalling the past Bashir Ahmad, a local resident of Bijbehara said, “The devotees to the nearby Shiv temple used to enjoy their stay at its banks and used the big aquatic leaves growing in the ‘Nadeir Sar’ to hold the holy meals known as ‘Prashad’”.
Now even the traces of the wetland cannot be seen as a big commercial centre and a Sumo Stand that has replaced it. The filing of the wetland and the surrounding marsh was initiated in 1997 wide government order number DLB/Works/1364/557 of 1997, Dated: 15-11-97 issued by then Director Urban Local Bodies. “This is a case of commercial development at the cost of nature’s beauty and balance. Wetlands are equally important in maintaining the ecology as other geographical entities are,” Nisar Ahmad, a research scholar in Environmental Studies said.
The reasons of such a harsh treatment to the wetland are not clear but it seems to be a case of tussle between people and administration. The authorities blame the people for all this mess who according to them had illegally occupied the ‘Nadeir Sar and the surrounding swamp. “Some influential people had illegally occupied this State land and planted trees all over the place. The government had no other option but to construct a commercial centre to get back the occupied area,” an official of the Municipal Committee Bijbehara said. “Plus the ‘Nadeir Sar occupied only 4-5 kanals of land, the rest of the 10 kanals were marshy that served no purpose at all,” he added.
The people even though admitting the administration’s version of illegal occupation of the swamp by some people blame the government of taking a wrong decision at a critical time. “No doubt there was illegal occupation of the swamp by some people but the authorities could easily have taken the land back without doing any harm to the ‘Nadeir Sar’,” a concerned resident of Bijbehara said. “Even if filling of the swamp was the only way to get back the land but the ‘Nadeir Sar’ could easily have been retained in its original form. The present Commercial complex would provide a scenic look had the wetland been retained in its vicinity,” he added.
The younger generation of Bijbehara even is not aware of what has been done in their locality. “This is quite unfortunate that such damage was done to a site of ecological and recreational importance. I even do not know that there was a wetland here and I feel sorry about that,” a surprised student of Higher Secondary School Bijbehara said.
Though the Shopping complex and the bus stand that became functional in 2003 provide good basic commercial and transportation facilities, but the damage it has done to the ecology cannot be justified. There is no other option for the people and authorities but to feel sorry about what they did.
Lastupdate on : Tue, 10 Apr 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 10 Apr 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 11 Apr 2012 00:00:00 IST
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