BANDIPORA: Rampant encroachment and pollution in Wullar have taken a toll on the production of lotus stem (nadroo) and water chestnuts in Asia’s second largest fresh water lake.
Officials said the production of Nadroo and water nuts has drastically reduced in over a dozen areas of Bandipora district, including Ashtengoo, Aloosa, Kemaghat, Laharwalpora, Lankrishipora, Nadihal, Guroora, Ajas, Saderkoot, Baniyari, Sudnara, Gund Hari Bhatthi, Zalwan, Hathlangoo and Aadipora along the Wullar Lake.
In 2000, the production of Nadroo and water nuts generated revenue of Rs 12 lakh to the Revenue Department that looked after the lake. However, since then, the production has dropped significantly prompting the contractors to explore other business options.
“Fresh vegetables produced in the lake were a major business source of income for us. However, for past one decade, the production has drastically decreased. It’s no more a brisk business. We do business for profit, not losses. So we had to change business line for our survival,” a contractor said.
Last year, only eight people deposited an amount of Rs 20,000 as CDRs for the bids. However, when the time for bidding came, no one turned up.
Chief Agriculture Officer, Bandipora, Abdul Qayoom Shah says that high water level in Wullar has hit the production of Nadroo and chestnuts. Pollution was also a factor for less production of the vegetables, he said.
“Nadroo grows at a place where water level is low. Due to the high water level this season, the production was less,” Shah said.
He expressed concern that the material that flows into the lake from the Kishanganga project will hit hard the flora and fauna of the lake.
However, the locals blame the government for ignoring the deteriorating condition of the lake caused by illegal constructions, encroachments and the pollution material flowing into the lake from streams.
Abdul Kareem Dar, a resident of Laharwalpora, accused the successive regime of ignoring the deteriorating condition of the lake despite knowing about it.
“The government is closing its eyes to avoid seeing the truth. The lake is being vandalised with every passing day. Trees have been planted in the water body for nurseries. Illegal constructions are coming up along the shores. However, no one seems to be worried about the lake’s survival,” he said
Another resident Abdur Rehman said that pollutants emptying into the lake through Nallah Madhumati and Papchan have also contributed to the deterioration of the lake. The garbage dumping site of municipal council in Nusoo is making things worse.
“And then there are pollutants reaching the lake from the Kishenganga power project. Tipper drivers wash their vehicles on the shores of lake adding to the pollution. The lake is sinking and stinking,” he said
An official of the Revenue Department, insisting not to be named, told Kashmir Reader that around 11,000 kanals of water body has been encroached by people in Bandipora and 50,000 kanals in Sonawari.
“Even government departments like Social Forestry Department and Forest Department have grabbed huge chunk. Wullar is dying a slow death,” he said.
He said that government is also equally responsible for the deterioration of the lake. Had there been a department looking after it, the lake would not have turned into an open drain, he said. “Wullar is like an orphan. No one is bothered to save and preserve it for the future generation,” he added.
Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Bandipora, Nazir Ahmad Baba acknowledged that no department is taking care or maintenance of the famous lake. However, he says that the district administration is ready to provide technical support to any department that comes forward to take care of the dying lake.