Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government has come up with an Integrated Management Action Plan for conservation of wetlands in Kashmir with a proposed budgetary outlay of Rs 46.70 crore.
“An overall budget of Rs 46.70 crore is proposed for implementation of the Integrated Management Action Plan for all the Wetland Conservation Reserves of Kashmir Region over a period of 5 years (2022-27),” copy of Action Plan reads.
“Rs 18.93 crore has been allocated for the overall investment, followed by Rs 13.15 crore for Biodiversity Conservation and Rs 7.49 Crore have been apportioned for the Education Awareness and Eco-Tourism, besides, Rs 0.80 crore for the Sustainable Resource Development and Livelihood Development and Rs 6.33 crore for Institutional Development,” it reads.
“The management planning framework will seek a balance between ecosystem conservation for ensuring
ecological integrity of all our wetlands and ensuring livelihood security to the communities.
“It will also seek to ensure an effective institutional mechanism that harmonizes planning at various levels with participation of all concerned stakeholders to achieve the objectives of integrated conservation and livelihoods.
“In order to achieve the above, management planning has been organized along five subcomponents, viz. land and water resources management, biodiversity conservation, ecotourism development, livelihood improvement and institutional development.”
The Action Plan states that increasing population around all these Wetland Conservation reserves has resulted in the conversion of vast areas of the immediate catchment to agricultural land.
“The increasing demand for fire wood has brought a vast area of these wetlands for willow and poplar plantations by the local people. The plantation of these species has also been done in the wetland periphery. The areas of wetlands near habitations are under constant threat of encroachment.
“At times, there are clashes between departmental staff and encroachers as such attempts are thwarted. During the last two decades human settlements have come up very close to the perimeter of the Wetlands particularly Hokersar wetland.
“The solid waste is also a challenge as the inhabitants of settlements around wetlands have a tendency to throw solid waste into the wetlands. Such waste from homes and urban areas around wetlands can get into the wetlands due to irresponsible behaviour of individuals.
“The use of agriculture fertilizers and pesticides, insecticides, fungicides, etc. in the catchments of Hokersar, Hygam, Mirgund and Shallabugh have affected the water chemistry. The fishery is seriously affected and many species of fish forming a good portion of food to birds are already declined.
“Catchment degradation, deforestation and other anthropogenic activities have accelerated soil erosion resulting in floods. These floods increase sedimentation rate. These wetlands are fed by many perennial and seasonal water channels which are directly or indirectly linked to the River Jhelum basin or its offshoots, which bring water to these wetlands for their sustenance.
“However, they bring along with it a huge amount of silt. In Hokersar, much of the siltation has occurred at the entry points of these feeding channels i.e. Soibugh to Hajibagh.
"In Shallabugh Wetland, the feeding Anchar Nallah has brought Sangam Beat under heavy silt while as in Hygam, Ningli Flood Channel and Baal Kul are responsible for siltation in the wetland. Siltation has occurred to such an extent that during summer one can walk easily across these wetlands at different places.
"The negative impact of this massive inflow of silt is manifesting into three fields. Firstly, the silt is getting deposited in the beds of wetland making it less shallow. Secondly, it is resulting in the gradual decrease of the water spread within the wetland area, and thirdly, due to siltation there is shift in macrophytic community,” the Action Plan for conservation of wetlands reads.