By Mudasir Nazir
The Wullar Lake was once considered as one of the largest fresh water lakes in the region. But, I always wondered how and when it has been given such a status which is far away from the ground reality. Even from the Wullar Vantage park Bandipora which provides visitors with a panoramic view of the northern side of the lake, many people often wonder where the actual lake is, since the majority of its portion looks green.
In fact, it is not only the Asia’s but the world’s first fresh water lake in which we can see the grazing cattle’s in middle of the lake which often will quest up their thirst at their respective homes because of the scarcity and pollution of water in the lake.
The (WCMA) Wullar Conservation and Management Authority was formed in 2012 with the sole aim of implementing the proposed efforts to clear this water body from weeds and siltation. Most important, however, dredging is the need of hour, so that the people can see the hidden water of this largest fresh water lake (which only seems to be a myth keeping in view the present worst scenario of the lake).
The negligence of successive governments in Jammu and Kashmir towards the lake is reflected by its deadly and pathetic condition. On the one hand, we have the Dal Lake, which receives millions and millions every year almost since decades but still we are unable to cure it’s all diseases. And, on the other, we have Wullar, which is suffering from pure and sheer neglect. In terms of the WCMA, what has it done since 2012? Is it visible anywhere apart from holding meetings and making policies how to conserve Wullar Lake on papers? The reasons for all this mostly accrue from lack of funds.
This issue and problem is mostly due to the mismanagement of funds, by destroying our own ecology, flora and fauna and our precious water bodies. The sad irony is that we can spent 5 crores just for a 5 minute tourism promotional video but we can’t manage the funds to preserve our environmental identities.
The lake, which once upon a time approximately covered 217 sq.kms, has now shrunk to 86.71 sq. kms. But, who cares, whom to convey and whom to request? What have we contributed to except pollution and grabbing its land and still trying to grab it’s every inch?
Since the very beginning of the construction of Kishan Ganga Hydro power project in Bandipora by Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) it has remained a major contributing agency of pollution of the Wullar lake, but no preventive measures and nothing has been done by the HCC under (EMP) Environmental Management Programmes (EIA) Environment Impact Assignment and other various Corporate Social Responsibility programmes to maintain the glory of the lake to restore its lost charm except by filling individual pockets.
Restoration of Wullar Lake seems to be the impossible task for the government. Instead, filling of the water body is much easier and cost friendly as only a minor portion of it seems to be what we can call the water body or the lake. The lake needs immediate preventive measures on a war footing basis before it’s too late. Development at the cost of environment is an invitation to disaster. The government must act before the era of environmental violence will start.
—The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org