‘Wular Action Plan likely to be completed in 2022–23 at Rs 200 Crore’
Srinagar: With conservation efforts for Asia’s second largest freshwater lake in northern Kashmir in full-swing, the people residing around the Wular lake hope for a better future as their entire business depends directly on the lake.
A local news gathering agency interviewed people residing around the lake and observed that since last two years there has been a hope among the people that the lake is being restored on ground which may prove beneficial for them in the future and stated that tourism can change their lives for the better.
Manzoor Ahmad, a local fisherman of Dar-Mohalla Guroora said that a few years ago the people here gave up their fishing business as it was not very profitable. “Due to the filth spread across the lake, the people here did not have the courage to do this business and they didn’t even consider it appropriate to depend on this lake,” he said. “Everyone was desperate because no one thought that the condition of the wular would change again. However, the government has changed its status a lot in a few years by the restoration process.”
Similarly, at Kulhama, Mohammad Sultan another fisherman said that their family have been dependent on the Lake for generations, However, due to the pollution in it, everyone was worried about the future of our next generations and everyone was looking for the answer to the same question whether they will be able to carry on this business or not. “However, the government is claiming that the lake is being restored on a large scale and I wish I could see it again as it was two decades ago,” he said.
A group of fishermen said, “We say with confidence that there is no political interference in the work of restoration. I’m sure Wular will not only get a new life, but will also give livelihood support to far more people than it currently does.”
Muhammad Hussan Panchoo, another local said that the widespread pollution has stunted the fishing community, exacerbating poverty to the fisherman community. “Although we used to drink its water some years back which may not be the case now,” he said, adding that by undertaking its restoration, “we now hope that it should be left as it was and further developed.”
A top government official while giving a detailed developmental report on the lake said that the net area of the Lake at present is 130 square kilometer with an encroachment of 380 Kanals and 11 Marlas.
He said that the area under encroachment is 0.001%. Eviction of 20 Kanals and 11 Marlas have been achieved and eviction of balance encroachment is going on while all efforts are made to retrieve the balance encroachments from Lake in which officials of Revenue, Forest & WUCMA departments are working with synergy to remove encroachments from the lake.
He also said that the encroachments under plantations and cultivations which form the major chunk of encroachments shall be cleared by the end of this financial year while the water holding capacity through the Wular Action Plan of Lake is likely to be completed in 2022–23 at a cost of Rs. 200 Crore.
“For the restoration of the Lake, 4.35 Sq kms area has been cleaned so far while work for a pedestrian (non-motorable) pathway being built around Wular Lake is ongoing. The Lake, he said, is also at the top of the list of places where bird watchers go. “Here, bird lovers can see rare species like the alpine swift and the Himalayan woodpecker,” he added. (KNO)