Says new devised plan by forest ministry is flawed
JAMMU: Senior PDP leader Nizamuddin Bhat has expressed concern over the perpetual deterioration of Wular Lake, saying the lake “is facing virtual extinction as forest authorities and management entrusted with the task of protection and revival of world famous lake have miserably failed to meet the desired objective”.
In a statement, Bhat said besides normal support from the state sector, the Government of India (GoI) had approved Rs 268 crore project in 2010-11 for de-silting of 27 km of critically filled lake area. “For this purpose, Rs 120 crores were released in the first phase which was kept at the disposal of the forest department. As envisaged in the project proposal, the department had to purchase two dredging machines for the de-silting. This did not happen and the main task remained on hold and lake started shrinking further,” he said, adding, “As a result of non-execution, the second installment from union government was not released and normal treatment of the Lake too came to a halt.”
Nizamuddin added, “Now when 13th finance commission has come to close, the forest department has no claim for further funding under 14th finance commission giving rise to a situation where Lake will get no treatment in absence of adequate funding.”
“It bears mention that state could claim Rs 500 crore assistance as its due share of 7.5 percent for forest and environment under 14th finance commission which is being denied now for its failure to utilise assistance under 13th finance commission,” he said.
Bhat said that to conceal the failures forest ministry is now trying a cover-up. “It is reliably known that forest ministry has devised a plan to go for composite tenders for sale of plantations in Wular which they anticipate can fetch them Rs 250 crores. This amount can then be used to take up de-silting. The proposal, besides cover up for losses and failures, is terribly flawed as the revised projections do not take into account a prior survey of Lake and de-silting of the critical area in tune with the approved survey,” he said.
Bhat has demanded shelving of the “ill-conceived” revised plan and has sought the intervention of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti to “save Wular from any flip-flop and unimaginative, wasteful planning as also the loss of time and resource”.