At present, some measures like dredging are underway as part of the conservation and preservation of Wular Lake, which forms a part of river Jhelum basin. However, the High Court of J&K and Ladakh was informed by amicus curiae in the Public Interest Litigation that dredging was going at a very slow pace than required in the water body, one of the largest freshwater lakes of Asia.
The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has granted the government two weeks to file the latest Action Taken Report. The government is expected to provide details regarding measures taken to retrieve land encroached upon by people living in its vicinity. Last time, the court 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 court had observed. The importance of the lake can never be undervalued. The Lake’s associated wetlands also 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 lake 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 lake 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 lake 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. The administration must play the role expected of it while people, more so those living in its vicinity and drawing livelihood from it, need to value the existence of the water body and make efforts to bring back its pristine glory.