Bandipora, Mar 10: Pollution is killing the famous Wullar lake in Bandipora district.
The dumping site on the bank of the lake continues to have a negative impact on its health. Locals assert that the continued disposal of "toxic" waste without any scientific intervention to lessen its negative effects has seriously affected the Lake’s fresh produce. Moreover, formerly free of diseases, the Lake's water now harbours a variety of illnesses that afflict a variety of animals, fish, birds, and people who live nearby.
"It is hard to put in words the impact the dumping site is having on the Lake," said 65 year old Ghulam Mohammad Dar, a fisherman from nearby Lankreshipora village. He stated that the Lake was once "filled with life" and would help them bring decent meals on the table, but "not anymore."
"We would fetch boat loads of fish to sell those in the market. These days if we are lucky we earn just Rs 200 to Rs 400 a day," Dar explains. Aware of the fact that the pollution is killing the Lake.
"It is not just this site" he says, pointing to the piles of trash at the Zalwaan dump on either side of the Jinder Kaul, a little stream that empties into the lake a few metres away and emits a horrible odour that makes Dar and his companions cover their mouths. "But there is so much waste landing directly in the Lake from elsewhere. Eagles, ravens, stray dogs, and cats perch on the trash all day long. It is hard to even stay here for a few minutes," Abdul Rasheed, another resident said.
Locals think that even though officials claim to have moved the dump, seepage, polythenes, and other harmful materials still end up in the stream. Even if domestic birds may be seen wading in the rivulet as you walk a short distance upstream, the dump site downstream the dump reflects the rivulets deplorable situation.
"The concrete walls they constructed around the site on one side is just to mark it their territory, otherwise it is good for nothing and never reduces the impact the dump is having on the Lake and its surrounding areas," Bashir Ahmad said. Similar views are shared by the villagers living meters away from the dump as they saw no measures are being taken to treat the garbage in a way to reduce its effect. "Now we are hearing that some plant will be set up here and for that some rock bedding has already been made but when will it see the light of the day is not known to us."
"It always smells bad here, " Naseema, 54, who has been living near the dump since 2014, along with children and grandchildren, said ."Our children now and then fall sick, it is hell." She adds, nobody bothers to do anything even out of sympathy. Not least to mention, meters away from the dumping site, a government middle school in Nusoo village also functions.
Dar and his associates who are out for some manual labour share that the polythenes are washed in agricultural fields whenever it rains, or there are fast blowing winds at certain occasion flash floods do the rest of the job. "It is not just this dump, there is so much garbage landing directly in the Lake via Jehlum river", they said
With uncommon bird sightings after several decades at Wular Lake this year, which had over 4.5 sq km of its 27 sq km of critically silted area restored, there is a renewed hope for its restoration. Locals contend that the Lake area needs much more than just dredging by the conservation authorities to restore its former splendour. The Bandipora town alone from its 17 wards dumps 450 metric tonnes of junk on the lakeside each month, as truck loads of waste empty there everyday, according to previous estimates provided by the authorities.
For reasons best known to them, the Bandipora authorities have not relocated the site, and they are almost finished putting in a segregation plant at the same area despite the lake's fragility and even the National Green Tribunal's recommendations that say solid waste should not be dumped there.
Officials say that a Rs six crore Segregation plant will help dispose of the solid waste scientifically.” "We are sure all the garbage will disappear from the site," Cheif executive Municipal committee Bandipora,Wali Mohammad told the Greater Kashmir. He says that they are waiting for the Environment Impact assessment (EIA) report for the go ahead for which some two months are still left. "Once we get the NOC the plant will be set up at the same location," the officer said.