Srinagar: After years of official indifference, the state government has finally woken up to preserve Hokersar wetland, the convergence point of tens of thousands of migratory birds in Kashmir. The makeover-project of around Rs 57 crore has been proposed to restore one of the most famous but neglected wetlands in Kashmir.
Commissioner cum secretary, irrigation and flood control department, M Raju told Kashmir Reader that dredging of lake and removal of encroachments are among several works that will be carried out under the proposed project.
“We have sent the proposal to planning department two months ago. We are waiting for the approval and once we receive it, we will contract out the project so that the work starts as early as possible,” Raju said.
Officials at the department say that the project was developed following unabated pollution, siltation and encroachments by locals and weeds over-lapping lake compelling them to intervene in order to preserve the lake that serves as the resting place to more than 3 lakhs migratory birds.
“We wanted to dredge the lake much before but the lake being as a place for migratory birds, there were some objections. This became main impediment in any of such intentions of department,” the official said.
Situated about 10 kilometres north of Srinagar, the Hokersar wetland is spread over an area of more than 7.6 square kms that includes a swathe of marshy lands. As per the reports, the wetland has witnessed encroachments ranging over more than 1,600 Kanals over the last 25 years.
From far off places like Siberia, over three lakh migratory birds visit Hokersar from Europe, Turkey, China, Philippines, Siberia and Kazakhstan between September and April ever year.
Besides local birds and brief presence of cormorants and the sandhill cranes, the wetland houses coots, teals, shovellers, graylag geese, mallards, pintails, gadwalls, wigeons, and purple moorhens. During the period of intense cold here, cormorants and the sandhill cranes shift to Indian plains for survival.
“With the proposed project, we hope that the glory this wetland had in the past, is restored,” official said.