The High Court of J&K and Ladakh made critical observations regarding the working of Wular Lake Conservation and Management Authority.
“We are pained to notice that the Government has created the Wular Lake Conservation and Management Authority for a specific purpose but the said Authority is not able to come up to the mark, rather, it appears to have been wasting the money sanctioned and provided by the Union of India,” the high court observed last week.
The observations followed perusal of an Action Taken Report by Additional PCCF/Chief Executive Director, Wular Conservation and Management Authority, Kashmir, stating that the Authority was making “sincere efforts for conservation and preservation of the Lake”.
“It has staff strength of 43 employees only which are all drawn on deputation and that there is no separate sanctioned staff in the Authority. If that be so, the Chief Executive Director owns an explanation as to what action he has taken to get the staff for the Authority sanctioned and for its appointment, as also how the amount of Rs. 125 Crores provided by the Union of India has been spent with complete details of the heads under which the expenses have been incurred,” the court said and also directed him to report about the steps taken for retrieving encroached land of the Wular Lake, one of the largest freshwater lakes of Asia.
The Lake’s associated wetlands also support rich biodiversity and provides 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 “Wetland of International Importance” under Ramsar Convention in 1990 in recognizing 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. Not only have encroachments continued with impunity, the water-body has gone through a sustained environmental degradation. There is hope that court monitoring will bring desired results as far protection of the lake is concerned.