Should be an eye-opener for humans who are destroying the wetland, says caretaker
Srinagar: At the periphery of Srinagar, Kashmir Valley’s second largest wetland, Hokarsar, is vital to protecting sizable parts of the city from floods, providing economic support to nearby seven villages, and for the life of lakhs of migratory birds.
This year, nearly 4.5 lakh migratory birds, some two lakh more than usual, arrived at Hokersar, which is spread over nearly 13 sq km but is constantly shrinking due to encroachment of houses. These two lakh birds which have come from Siberaia, China, and other far-off regions, could not find a place at the Shalbug wetland, which lies nearby but is disturbed because of construction work going on there.
“Shalbug is undergoing construction these days which is meant to protect its ecosystem. This work may take some time, so the birds found their place at Hokarsar. Today we have nearly two lakh additional birds here. Hokarsar has been a lifeline for them,” an official said.
This support, according to Ghulam Muhammad, one of the caretakers of Hokarsar, should be an eye opener to those who are hell bent on putting an end to it. His statement was aimed at locals who are trying to convert the wetland into a residential area, and also a company that is doing dredging of the wetland to create more space for flood water to flow into the wetland. The company seems to be not doing work as per the specifications, as piles of muck, removed from the land, have been lying unattended at the Hokarsar wetland after being dredged out by the Kolkata based-Reach Dredging Limited.
According to Muhammad, the wetland has also been providing economic support to seven large villages situated in the surroundings. He said that the villagers use the extracted grass and waste from the wetland to feed their cattle, which is their main source of revenue. The wetland also produces a variety of vegetables that sustain many households.
Muhammad, who has over the years seen how the wetland has been polluted, said that many built-up areas which have come up in the last two decades near Hokersar exhaust their sewage drains into the wetland. The sight of so many birds coming this year should be an eye-opener for them, he said.