Panel to demarcate Hokersar wetland

Government has constituted a panel to demarcate boundaries of Hokersar wetland to prevent encroachments.

According to official communique, the state administration has “expressed concern over the annihilation caused to Hokersar wetland due to the vagaries of the weather, human intervention”.

Divisional commissioner, Kashmir has ordered constitution of committee to be headed by Deputy commissioners of Srinagar , Budgam to demarcate the boundaries of the wetland.

A senior Irrigation and Flood Control department official informed that Hokersar wetland has shrunk over the years mostly due to encroachments.

“There is a dire need to demarcate the boundaries, so that this wetland restores its lost glory,” he said adding that a proposal to make Hokersar wetland as eco-tourism destination is in pipeline. “However the only thing hindering this process is absence of demarcation lines.”

“Therefore Divisional Commissioner Kashmir during a meeting asked the deputy commissioners of Srinagar, Budgam  to ensure demarcation of boundaries falling in their respective areas under their jurisdiction.

“Committee headed by the respective deputy commissioners will demarcate the boundaries of the Hokersar wetland .The members of the committee shall be drawn from wildlife department, Irrigation and flood control, Rakhs and farms, Regional director, Survey and land records Srinagar. The demarcation should be carried out on urgent basis and completed within the shortest possible time,” reads the minutes of the meeting chaired by the Divisional commissioner Kashmir.

It states Chief engineer Irrigation and flood control shall construct hydraulic gates at the entry and exit points of Hokersar wetland in order to maintain minimum wetland in order to maintain minimum water level in the wetland. Chief Engineer I&FC department shall initiate appropriate measures for tendering the work.

“Regional wildlife warden, Kashmir apprised that a comprehensive plan/project for preservation and restoration of wetland as eco-tourism destination has already formulated and stands submitted to the tourism department for funding of the project. However boundaries of the wetland need to be delineated properly so that its area is mapped out,” it adds.

In absence of conservation measures over past nearly two decades, Hokersar has been pushed to the verge of extinction. A study conducted by Department of Earth Sciences Kashmir University reveals that Hokersar has shrunk from 18.75 sq Kms in 1969 to 12.8 sq Kms.

Situated on city outskirts, Hokersar till a few decades ago was known as the ‘Queen of Wetlands’.  Hokersar is an important refuge for migratory waterfowls, shorebirds and trans-Himalayan species during winters. It also acts as one of the major flood absorption basins.

 Owing to its immense ecological value, Hokersar has been declared as Conservation Reserve under the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1978. It was also declared as Ramsar site on November 8, 2005 under the Ramsar Convention. India is a signatory to the Ramsar Convention— an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable utilization of wetlands.