Respite for Hokersar: No constructions in surroundings till wetland demarcated

Respite for Hokersar: No constructions in surroundings till wetland demarcated

SRINAGAR: To preserve the already-endangered Hokersar wetland from further depredation, the government has instituted a ban on every sort of construction around the Hokersar peripheries .
Official documents accessed by Kashmir Reader reveal that the government authority, which includes the Commissioner of the Srinagar Municipal Corporation and the Director of Urban Local Bodies Kashmir, shall ensure that no building permission is issued.
The document states that the authorities are to “ensure that no building permission is issued for undertaking construction on the immediate peripheries of Hokersar wetland and ensure blanket ban on all sort of construction on its immediate peripheries till demarcation of the wetland is completed”.
The decision to this effect was taken in a recently-held meeting chaired by the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Basheer Ahmad Khan. The meeting was held to discuss funds for the wetland restoration project which would be carried out by the tourism department. During the meeting, attendees vowed to protect, preserve and restore Hokersar to its original position.
Also discussed in the meeting were measures to “ensure the complete ban on the dumping of solid waste on the banks of Hokersar wetland and the respective Deputy Commissioner shall monitor the progress”, the document reads.
As per officials, the Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir has said that they need a project for the wetlands’ preservation and that it will be funded by the tourism department.
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 marsh lands. As per reports, the wetland has witnessed encroachments ranging across more than 1,600 Kanals over the last 25 years.
In one area in Shalbugh in particular, the officials have identified more than 2,500 Kanals of land under encroachment while, as per the official records, more than 500 Kanals of land under encroachment has also been identified at the Hokersar wetland.
“People of these areas around the wetland use the encroachment land either for agricultural or other farming activities,” an official said.
An official of the Wildlife Department who wished not to be named told Kashmir Reader, “If this time administration will show seriousness, then we can executive these orders on the ground.”
The shrinking of wetlands, which is mostly caused due to encroachments, has adversely affected the arrival here of migratory birds and has increased the chances of flooding.
Over three lakh migratory birds visit Hokersar between September and April ever year from far-off places across Europe, such as Siberia, and throughout Asia, including Turkey, Kazakhstan, China and the Philippines.
Besides local birds and the brief presence of cormorants and the sandhill crane, the wetland also hosts coots, teals, shovellers, graylag geese, mallards, pintails, gadwalls, wigeons and purple moorhens.