Wullar consumed villagers, ‘saved’ cattle

BANDIPORA: Inundating hundreds of families inhabiting its vast adjoining area, the Wullar lake in north Kashmir became an easy source of fodder for the domesticated animals facing starvation.
For the residents of Makdumyari, a village at tail end of Jhelum’s tributary, paddy fields spanning hundreds of kanals of land is the principal source of cattle fodder.
With the inflow from Jhelum raising both vertical and horizontal expanse of Wullar, the fields became submerged. The fodder was devastated, posing a threat to the cattle considered vital for survival by the local populace.
The people subsequently discovered the alternative offered by the lake itself. Rowing over its swollen surface, the villagers found easy access to the usually inaccessible branches of the willow trees, acquiring leaves and twigs for use as fodder.
“Our cattle mostly live on paddy and corn hay; at times we send the herds to lake peripheries for grazing. But floods spewed out problems for our domestic animals,” Muhammad Ramzan, a resident of Makdumyari, told Kashmir Reader.
“When the whole village became submerged, the lake proved beneficial for our cattle. We used boats to reach out to the branches of the willow trees to get fodder for our cattle. That is how we managed to live with our cattle on the three kilometer embankment towards surrounding the village,” he added.
Everyday villages would venture into the lake to get their stock of fodder from the massive plantations that belong to the ‘rakhs’ and farms of the Forest department.
Ramzan said the flood water reached “one of the highest levels” till September 16 when it, unable to contain more water, spilled out the excess volume.
The Forest department didn’t prevent the cutting of twigs and branches, helping the locals, he said.
Most areas in the locality are still under water, forcing publics’ continued dependence upon the willow trees for fodder.
Muhammad Sideeq, another villager, said, “The flooding was witnessed after a long time and this time there was visible shortage of cattle fodder; we were yet to harvest paddy when flood hit. These forests in Wullar helped us in survival of our cattle.”