Srinagar: Government on Monday claimed that the conservation and eco-restoration of the Wular Lake to its pristine glory was amongst the priorities of the present Government.
Minister of State for Forests, Environment, and Ecology Mir Zahoor Ahmad reviewed the progress of Wular Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA) Kashmir here at a meeting held in Srinagar. The Minister stressed upon the need of beautification of existing flood protection bunds along the peripheries of the lake, in order to strengthen these bunds by using dredged out material from the lake. He said the bunds can be used for eco-tourism activities and can be developed as Wular Boulvard and walk ways, bird watching sites, parks and other parking facilities can be developed along the fringes of the lake.
Zahoor also urged for continuation of the project activities for achieving the basic objective of conservation of lake.
The Minister inspected the office of the WUCMA today and Chief Executive Director, WUCMA, Mian Javed Hussein gave a detailed presentation of various activities carried out by the Authority during last 5-years for the long-term conservation, eco-restoration and preservation of the Wular lake and its associated ecosystems.
It was informed that dredging operations carried out within the critically silted areas of Wular lake and vital feeder channel Naaz Nallah to the extent of over ten lakh cubic meters have successfully been accomplished so far which has resulted in enhancement of the water holding capacity of the water body significantly over an area of more than one square kilometre.
It was given out that demarcation of the lake too has been carried out using latest GPS and Remote Sensing technology and accordingly the total area of the lake has been determined which is 130 square kms at present as per revenue records. The Minister was informed that the Authority also carries out the conservation operations for the rehabilitation & mass greening of the direct catchment of the Wular lake which is comprised of the highland areas of Arin and Madhumati watersheds in district Bandipora.
During the last 5-years, the Authority has planted more than 12 lakh saplings of vital species of conifers and broadleaved plants in these highly degraded catchment areas besides carrying out soil erosion & landslide control measures as per prescribed norms.
The Minister was also apprised about various steps initiated by the WUCMA to control diffused pollution to the Wular Lake by means of direct flow of the harmful wastes and human excreta into the lake. In this regard, the Authority has so far provided over 45-low cost sanitation units to the population belonging to the Below Poverty Line (BPL) to maintain the sanitation of the lake. Many such units are proposed to be added during the coming years.
Under PM’s special package announced for J&K, an amount of Rs. 60 crores has been earmarked for the conservation of Wular Lake. The Minister assured the authority that he will take up matter with the Chief Minister for release of first instalment of funds during 2016-17 so that conservation efforts initiated by the WUCMA are carried out without any interruption.
The Minister directed the officials of the authority to re-double their efforts and utilize their expertise for the speedy eco-restoration and conservation of the World famous Wular Lake. He said that the shortage of manpower and resources in the authority will be addressed expeditiously. Mir Zahoor expressed his satisfaction over the key achievements made by the authority so far and advised the concerned officials to work with dedication on a war-footing basis.
The meeting was attended by Project Coordinator Catchment Conservation, Ali Mohammad Dar, Coordinator Lake Water Management, Rashid Naqash and other senior officers of the authority.