SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir Government has planned to eliminate another wetland from summer capital Srinagar that was helping to prevent uptown areas from receiving surplus flood water, reveals a government document.
Narkara, a permanent and deep wetland that safeguards Hyderpora, Barzulla, Peerbagh, Natipora, Bemina, Sanatnagar, Bulbulbagh, Baghat, Gangubug and Rambagh from surplus floods water will now be converted into a campus for the Srinagar branch of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), the approval for which has been given by the state higher education department.
A communication of the executive engineer, Flood Spill Channel division, Narbal, observes that “many high-profile institutions, like Indian Institute of Management, are coming up at Narkara Numbal which actually is a flood basin (sic). But due to land crunch and feasibility of location of such institutions the site selection has become inevitable.” The communication was sent to the chief engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control department in July this year.
As per the detailed project report prepared by the public works department (R&B), Kashmir, an amount of Rs 101 crore is required for filling earth into the marsh that was home to a number of birds and helps in maintaining the water table. In the devastating floods of 2014, the Narkara wetlands helped many surrounding areas from getting submerged, locals of the surrounding areas have said in a letter to the Chief Minister, a copy of which is with Kashmir Reader.
The land is also classified as wetland in the Directory of Lakes and Water Bodies of JK State prepared by the department of Environment and Remote Sensing, a copy of which is also with Kashmir Reader.
A high-level site approval committee, comprising director IIM, Lucknow, joint secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, and commissioner secretary, Higher Education department, has already approved the site. The state government has initiated the process for transfer of land, says the document.
Education Minister Syed Altaf Bukhari told Kashmir Reader he will never allow the use of wetland for the IIM’s construction.
“If the land is found to be wetland, I will not let it be used for the IIM,” he said.
The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has already directed the government to submit the demarcation report of the proposed site for the Srinagar IIM. Bukhari said documents are submitted which show the land is not wetland. However, he said, he would go through them again to prevent a disaster from occurring.
According to the Research Paper, ‘Quantification of loss in Spatial Extent of Lakes and Wetlands in suburbs of Srinagar city during last century using Geospatial Approach’, by Hamayun Rashed and Gowhar Waseem, “Due to unplanned urban expansion, there has been a tremendous change in the spatial extent of most of these water bodies as a result of which important wetlands of Bemina, Batamaloo and Arath stand already lost to other land uses.”