Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir government is going to construct a non-motorable walkway around the famous Wular Lake in north Kashmir.
“A non-motorable walkway will be developed around Wular lake which will add scenic beauty to the water body and help in preventing encroachment,” said a senior official privy to the development adding, “This will be beneficial in preventing encroachments besides when the people will come to use this walkway, this can become a tourist spot.”
Wular is the largest lake in Kashmir and a flood basin that has witnessed massive encroachment during the last few decades.
In this regard earlier this year, Forest, Ecology and Environment Department issued an order which reads, “Administrative approval is accorded to the construction of non-motorable walkway around Wular Lake from Banyari bridge to Naaz Nallah (Phase1) including approach road to Delta park at a technical vetted cost of Rs 19.42 Cr to be completed in two working seasons.”
Over 640 kanals of the Wular Lake – South Asia’s one of the largest freshwater lakes - have been encroached upon, divisional administration here has revealed.
“In total, 640 kanals of land is under encroachment including the government authorized/accommodated Sher colony. It was apprised that there was approximately 90 kanals of land under encroachment situated at outer parameters of the Wular lake out of which encroachment at 10 kanals have been removed,” reads an official note of a meeting chaired by Divisional Commissioner on conditions of wetlands in Kashmir.
Wular lake, which forms a part of river Jhelum basin, is one of the largest freshwater lakes of Asia. It is in peril on various counts. Besides pollution, encroachments threaten its survival also.
The lake’s associated wetlands support rich biodiversity and provide habitat to migratory birds within the Central Asia flyover. It is also the largest fisheries resource in Kashmir Valley, supporting the livelihoods of a large human population living along its fringes.
Also importantly, the water body and its associated wetlands protect the Valley from floods as well as maintain the flow to support agriculture and hydro-power generation. However, over the past several decades, the water body is progressively shrinking.
Unfortunately, it has not attracted the required attention despite the fact that the lake was designated as a “Wetland of International Importance” under Ramsar Convention in 1990 in recognising its importance for its biodiversity and socio-economic values.
There are several reasons for the ruins and some of them have been even well identified. However, there has been little redeeming difference on the ground.
The Wetland Management and Conservation Rules provide that the wetlands shall be conserved and managed in accordance with the principle of “wise use” as determined by the Wetlands Authority.
The rules explicitly prohibit activities such as encroachment of any kind, setting up of any industry and expansion of existing industries besides Solid waste dumping including the discharge of untreated wastes and effluents from industries, cities, towns, villages and other human settlements as well as any construction of a permanent nature.