Protect the Narkara wetland

The PIL was filed against the coming up of IIT campus on the Narkara wetland.
File Photo
File Photo

Narkara  wetland,  a12 kilometers from Srinagar city, has shrunk to 261 hectare in 2010 from  342 hectare  in 1971,  cites from  "Down to Earth, 15 October 2017. The government agencies have no revenue records of the waterbody.  

The future of Narkara wetland is the future of  the southern part of our Srinagar city. The wetland acts as the buffer zone during floods by preventing water from entering into the uptown areas of the summer capital. During the floods of 2014, the Narkara wetland helped many surrounding areas  like all the residential colonies on the left side of the Indira Gandhi Airport road from  inundation.  Narkara  area is a detention basin designed to allow 72 hours detention period to surplus flood water of Doodhganaga nallah.

Apart from being a buffer zone, wetlands are always working to remove pollutants, nutrients and particulate matter. Wetland biota takes up the nitrogen and phosphorus (nutrients) for their  growth and survival, pollutants and chemicals are absorbed by sediments as the water slowly flows through the wetland and the physical process of particle settling  i.e., sedimentation also takes place here.  Narkara wetlands harbours a rich composition of flora and fauna. It is a breeding place for many waterbirds like Mallards, Purple Moorhens, Indian Moorhens and Dabchicks.

As claimed by  Survey of India Toposheets  1971 and Landsat-ETM 2010, Srinagar's wetlands spread over 13,425.90 hactares in 1911 and by 2004 this area has shrunk to 6,407 hactare registering a loss of 7,018 hactare in 95 years. Narkara wetland covered an area of 3.42  km² in 1971, the area was reduced to 2.61 Km² in 2010 registering a loss of 0.81km². But the present scenario of the wetland gives a different picture, many residential buildings are being constructed on the surface of waterbody  towards  the .eastern periphery. Domestic garbage is being dumped along the demarcation bund although the residential colonies constructed on the peripheries have a proper solid waste disposal system provided by Srinagar Municipal Committee. According to a research done in Kashmir University , Srinagar city has grown  12  times in terms of population and 23 times in terms of area between 1901 to 2011. The analysis has shown that increasing human pressure created by encroachment and reclamation of the vast waterbodies for residential developments have led to change in the nature of functions performed by our wetlands. As per the census of India 2011 our Srinagar city has a total population of 12.2 lakh persons and the population is projected to cross 23.5 lakhs mark by year 2021. Such a huge population will increase pressure on the resource base and if proper wetland conservation strategies are not formulated,  our natural assets may be damaged , lost for ever and our city will be on a flood alert every now and then. 

High Court while hearing a PIL filed by Environment Policy Group has directed the government to maintain status quo at Narkara area and demarcate the wetland area. The PIL was filed against the coming up of IIT campus  on the Narkara wetland. The Rakhs and Farms department, custodian of the Narkara wetland  has not done much  in this direction till date.  According to relief web 25 May 2017,we have lost a number of flood basins in Srinagar city,  wetlands around Dal lake , Khushalsar, Babademb, Shallabug ,Hokera,and Narkara wetlands along the periphery of the city have been largely transferred into residential colonies. To save our city from flood wrath further reclamation of and unabated constructions in side waterbodies has to be stopped.

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