SRINAGAR, June 12: The Wildlife Department in Kashmir says it has taken all the measures to save the wetlands as deposition of silt and, human encroachment have led to drop in water levels and increase in pollution level.
The State of Jammu and Kashmir has nineteen wetlands, with nine of them in Kashmir Valley. Experts predict that these wetlands will vanish in about seven years if the authorities continue to neglect them.
The Hokersar wetland, situated at 16 kilometres north of Srinagar, is just one of the favoured destination for migratory birds. It has shrunk to 4.5 square kilometers against its original area of 13.75 square kilometers.
A large number of satellite wetlands found in areas adjourning bigger water bodies have completely vanished due to rampant urbanisation and encroachment. Some believe that the diversion of flood channels to wetlands has caused them to dry up.
The wildlife protection department of the state is embarking on a massive de-silting and de-weeding campaign to regain the wetlands and the Central Government has agreed to provide funds to help to save these wetlands.
A wildlife official said that the department was doing its best to save these wetlands.
“Wetlands in Kashmir are very important for us and we are trying our best to save them. We are talking all the scientific measures to save them,” the official added.
The Government of India has been asked for funds to save these wetlands. Three wetlands have been included in the Prime Minister’s construction package namely: Wular Lake, Surinsar Mansar in Jammu region and Sobrari wetland in Ladakh.
Even the local Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) are working for protection of wetlands. “Kashmir valley is known for its wetlands all over the world. But I think people in Jammu and Kashmir do not know much about the wetlands. We are trying to create awareness among them on this issue.
We want to make them understand that wetlands are nature’s kidneys. If the wetlands are there then agriculture and horticulture in the state will also thrive,” said Aijaz Bhat, a member Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).
Wetlands are among the most important life support systems for a large species of birds, yet two-thirds of these wetlands in Kashmir have been reportedly destroyed since 1950s.
The surviving wetlands are among the threatened natural areas and are in need of serious protection and preservation. The migratory birds fly in groups over continents in search of food.
They travel long distances to inhabit amenable environments on seasonal basis. During their six-month long stay in India, many of the birds lay eggs and bring up the chicks till they are capable to undertake journey back home.