Wetland Reserves

We need a Peoples’ movement to protect this wealth

CONCERN

MUFTI MUBASHIR

Wetlands are an important link in maintaining ecological balance. They provide support and stabilize climate conditions. They are also responsible for Acquifer Recharging and ground water discharge. The government of Jammu and Kashmir recently transferred 12758 kanals of land to forest department for supplementing the existing wetlands in Kashmir valley. Hokersar, Haigam, Mirgund,Narkura and Shallabug are the wetland reserves in the valley.  These wetlands are home to migratory birds. Migratory birds from Russia, Siberia, china, Eastern Europe and Philliphines come to these wetlands in early October/November and go back in spring to their native lands. The birds migrate to escape the extreme cold climate in their country of origin.
They come in batches, groups and are led by elderly birds. They travel during day and night as well. Birds in flight are a marvel in flight engineering.  For bird watchers it is a treat to watch these birds. Fourteen kilometers from Srinagar is the world famous bird reserve sanctuary Hokersar.   Spread over an area of5.6 sq.km it is home to 900000 migratory birds. The government has recently provided thirty quintals of paddy to feed these birds. They generally feed on water chestnuts and small fish. Greylag geese, Marslards, Teals, Pochards, Shovelers and Wigers are the species of migratory birds coming to valley. Herons Egrets crane and Storks migrate to the valley in Spring and leave before winter.
The land mafia and revenue authorities in connivance with business families settled in United States are eyeing the wetland reserves of Narkura Budgam. The land adjoining wetland reserve and Rakh has been delineated as Shamillat DEH land (section 5) and can be distributed among members as per rationing. The land measuring sixty to eighty kanals have already been purchased by showing that this does not fall under rakh or forest reserve. On one hand the government is transferring land to supplement the wetland reserves, and on the other hand land mafia is eating up these reserves. Wetlands of Narkura are not properly delineated, as such the brokers are having a field day as gullible purchasers are being duped by these high profile brokers. Wetlands are shrinking day by day. There are laws which prohibit sale and purchase of such lands, but in blatant violation of these laws, the rakh is offered on a platter.
The migratory birds are being killed by poachers who take positions in the fields and use walweish, a trap fixed for these birds.  Government officials having patronage of high ups have a field day in hunting down these birds.  Unlicensed guns are blatantly being used to hunt down birds.
The concerned authorities should protect wetlands and prevent poaching of these birds. Ecologists have warned that if the rakh is shrinking, it will have disastrous effects on climate conditions. The whole ecosystem will be adversely affected.
International day to protect wetlands was organized in the month of May this year. Peoples’ movement is needed for a vociferous campaign on protection of wetlands. Schools must organize seminars and students should be involved in the fight against land mafia.
The honorable High court should take notice of land mafia on prowl. Action should be taken against usurping, converting of wetlands into residential locality, and poaching of these migratory birds.  Peoples’ movement will compel the authorities to take preventive measures.

(Feedback at mmubashir64@yahoo.co.in)

Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 6 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 7 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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