Saving the Lake

The Union Secretary for Environment and Ecology T Chaterji’sSaturday meeting, convened at Bandipora, to review the centrally funded Rs 386 crore ‘Action Plan for Wular Conversation and Management ...

The Union Secretary for Environment and Ecology T Chaterji'sSaturday meeting, convened at Bandipora, to review the centrally funded Rs 386 crore 'Action Plan for Wular Conversation and Management Project' should augur well for the lake which is facing the threat of extinction. It is unfortunate that the lake that has been providing sustenance to thousands of people for centuries together has suffered incalculable harm at the hands of the very people who have been drawing a great economic benefits from it generation after generation. The 260 square kilometres lake, whose area varies season to season, has had the distinction of being Asia's largest fresh water lake is today in an extremely bad shape. The lake body is virtually overwhelmed by plantations which ostensibly are there for providing some economic support to those who have planted these. The fact is that these plantations are there more for land reclamation than for income supplementation through the sale of timber or wood. The lake is choked with the all-round encroachments and siltation too. The visiting dignitary's emphasis on starting the survey and demarcation of Wular Lake on priority so that development and conservation work is started immediately is all necessary to identify the encroachments; removal of these require focussed attention for restoration of the lake. These encroachments perhaps would not have been there had the Wullar Barrage and Tullabal Navigation Project been allowed to get completed which would ensure maintenance of a particular water level in the lake. Unfortunately that did not happen as the project fell victim to Indo-Pak acrimony. The Forest Department and its Social Forestry wing would do well to help remove the encroachment in the shape of the vast tracts of plantations. It would have a salutary effect on the people who are responsible for similar encroachments. It would in the larger interests of the project have people's participation in the implementation of the programe for its ultimate success

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