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Water Bodies and Wet Lands On deathbed in Kashmir
Govt Fails to Act
5/17/2016 11:12:46 PM
Saqib Junaid

Early Times Report

SRINAGAR, May 17: The water bodies in Kashmir Valley have become the worst victims of human interference and rapid urbanization. According to the State Water Mission, The capacity of the valley's water retaining bodies is reducing at an alarming rate.
On September 2014 the valley has received devastating floods for which the experts attribute massive urbanization around the water bodies, siltation due to deforestation and overexploitation of the many streams and lakes. Many have shrunk to a fraction of their original size while some have disappeared in all.
The water absorbing basins of Kashmir including Wular Lake, Anchar Lake and wetlands like Hokersar, Shalbugh and Haigam have witnessed enormous siltation from past few decades.
According to reports more than 50% of water bodies in Srinagar and its suburbs have been lost during the past century.
If reports are to be believed the area of one of the Asia's largest fresh water Lake Wullar has drastically shrunk from 157 sq km in 1911 to 86 sq km in 2007 and to 25 sq km in 2013. Almost 40 percent of the lake area has been converted into agricultural land and the unabated usage of fertilizers is seriously threatening its ecological balance.
Further reports suggest that the lake has lost more than 70 percent of its surface due to the encroachments by the villages living around the lake.
The marshy and water body area of Dal Lake, a major tourist attraction in Srinagar, has shrunk from 2,547 hectares in 1971 to 1,620 hectares in 2008. Although it has lost almost half of its water surface area in 40 years, it still looks like a water body.
While lakes like Gilsar, Khushalsar and Aanchar have all but disappeared completely. While the size of Anchar Lake has been reduced from 19.4 sq kms to a mere 6.8 sq kms. As per the study carried out by Environment Services and Research organization (ESRO), encroachment on this lake is taking place at a rate of 0.142 sq km/year. Annual pollution load of 5.73 tons of phosphorous and 82.39 tons of nitrogenous substances has converted the lake into a shrunken lagoon in only a span of 10-15 years. The flora and fauna that once thrived in this Lake has long since been destroyed and it is now infested with weeds.
Similarly regarding the wetlands, the growing siltation has also become one of the prime concerns for the government. The Hokersar which once used to retain huge quantity of flood water has shown a huge growth of siltation thus reducing its capacity to manifold.
According to the 2015 Asian Water bird Census (AWC), conducted by Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Department stated that Haigam wetland has shrunk half in size in last 26 years and drastically reduced from 1400 hectares in 1988 to 720 hectares the report says.
Experts said that "The concerned government Depts. whose responsibility was to protect these water bodies have miserably failed in performing their Duties." Experts suggested that the lakes needs de-silting, dredging, de-weeding and proper embankment on war footing basis. "The slow death of these lakes and water bodies bodes affects the fragile eco system of Kashmir, its bio diversity and thus perhaps even climactic patterns. All this is alarming if left unchecked and left to die, the ramifications and consequences of their death will have ripple effects across generations" Experts Said.
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