Rashid Paul

HC asks Wular authority to take steps for dredging, de-siltation

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“The lake area has shrunk from 159 sq. kms to 86 sq. kms”

Srinagar August 11: The High Court today directed the Wular Conservation & Management Authority (WUCMA) to take steps for dredging and de-siltation of Wular Lake, which is facing an existential crisis.

A division bench of court after perusal of concerned reports observed that drastic measures are required to be taken for protection of the lake and directed the WUCMA to take steps for dredging and de-siltation of the lake for its preservation.

Wular, one of the largest freshwater lakes of Asia is facing a survival crisis due to siltation, encroachments and massive plantation.

The lake area has shrunk from 159 sq.km to 86 sq.kms, a shrinkage of  45 percent over the years, mainly due to conversion of its area in to agricultural lands and reclamation of its area by plantation.

Surrounded by lofty mountains, Wular acts as the major absorption basin for the floodwaters in Kashmir and sustains its hydrographic system.

Due to its ecological preeminence and socio-economic importance, the Lake was designated as wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1990.

However, assigning a global significance to it has hardly helped hold back the strain pressed on this important water body of the region and its condition continues to be deteriorating.

Given the pathological inertia afflicting the executive machinery of the state, the J&K’s top court intervened at the request of a civil society group a few years ago to keep this vital hydrological asset of the state alive, say experts.

In a recent hearing on the matter the court expressed its displeasure and dissatisfaction over the pace of work and utilization of funds for conservation, preservation and protection of the Lake.

It had asked the Attorney General of India for deputing an officer not below the rank of Assistant Solicitor General to assist the court.

The court observed that the utilization of funds on various water bodies could be easily achieved in case some experts are provided to the local scientists.

The Bench said: “We sadly feel that for the last many years funds have been spent on various water bodies but the magnitude of results is not matching to the funds spent and much more could be easily achieved by close monitoring by the experts.”

Court also directed the Department of Environment of Central Government through National River Conservation and Management Authority to comply with the earlier directions of the court passed on the matter.

It directed it to depute an expert to oversee the implementation process after examining the action plan with regard to conservation and preservation of Wular Lake.

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