The villagers of Saderkoot Payeen along the Wular Lake in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district are angry and worried as the lake water has been flooding the village and seeping inside their houses.
Expressing their resentment over the issue, scores of villagers staged a protest Thursday and said that they were living in a constant fear as the lake water was seeping into their homes while their pleas to the authorities were getting no response.
The Saderkoot Payeen village falls along the lakeside where Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA) is conducting dredging to restore around 3 sq m of critically-silted lake area.
The locals said that the flood-like situation in the village had arisen due to dredging works going in the lake.
“It’s Ramadhan and we couldn’t leave for Masjids to offer prayers due to the flood-like situation,” said Bashir Ahmad a local.
He said that they had appealed the authorities to find some solution to their problems.
The regular movement of the villagers has also been hindered as there is no way to channel the flooding lake water as the village sits on the base of a hillock.
Abdul Samad, another villager said, “The pipes to take out muck from the lake have been laid around the village due to which all the dirt and debris are accumulating here and in return have resulted in flooding the village.”
Praising the efforts being made to restore the Wular Lake, the villagers said, “Unscientific dumping of silt and muck along the village peripheries was proving a health hazard and also ruining the villages already decrypt environment.”
Mahmood, a worried mother said, “We are not able to get out of our homes to fetch daily need items as streets remain waterlogged. Apart from that there is a constant worry that our children might get caught in the flow unaware as there is hardly any place dry or without water where they can play.”
The locals said some of the population is at a greater risk as they live near the edge of the lake.
“The water level here is constant and only increases when there is increased activity inside the lake or rain. Our fears are only elevated on a daily basis,” said a resident, Abdul Saleem.
Villagers claimed that they were forced to abandon their homes in the night as water seeps into their houses.
“Living inside our homes is increasing our fears and it is more like a nightmare now with water from the lake coupled with rain keeping us awake,” said Ramzan Ahmad who was accompanied by a group of villagers.
Appealing to the authorities to redress their genuine grievances, the locals said that both the WUCMA and the district authorities should come forward and listen to their pleas so that their problems are solved.