The frequent directions from Jammu and Kashmir High Court on removal of all encroachments along the banks of water bodies have least impact on the ground as authorities in North Kashmir have failed to restore the pristine glory of Wullar Lake, the largest fresh water body in Asia.
Right from Nengli Sopore, the illegal encroachments have come up in alleged connivance with authorities.
"The irony is that the occupants, after occupying a patch of water body, sell it to another party for fishing purposes," locals said.
They alleged that "it is a big mafia which not only involves fishermen but also some employees of Fisheries Department. The mafia after erecting a temporary structure along the banks of Wullar lake, gradually creeps into the water body and occupies a vast patch by erecting logs with sign boards, thus prohibiting others from fishing in that illegally occupied area of the lake."
"Gradually, the mafia sells this patch to another party for fishing purposes and a due share is given to the employees of the Fisheries Department," the locals said.
"It is irony that authorities are acting deaf despite knowing the fact and no efforts are made to dismantle the illegal structures or put a stop to unlawful trade practice," said a resident of Bandipora, adding that despite bringing the issue into the notice of Director Fisheries Department, no action has been initiated against the active mafia.
Wullar according to experts has been extensively encroached upon and polluted, with the government acting as mute spectator to its vandalism. Illegal constructions dot the meandering banks of the lake in many areas. Wullar has shrunk extensively and its carrying capacity has also decreased.
Admitting that a mafia is active in the area and illegal structures have come up along the Wullar Lake, Director Fisheries Rajesh Dogra said that after receiving such complaints, he has constituted a team and the drive has been started to dismantle the illegal structures and put an end to illegal trade practice.