Srinagar, July 16 (KMS): In occupied Kashmir, Wular lake in Bandipore, which was considered to be one of the largest freshwater lakes in Asia, acting as a natural flood reservoir for Jhelum River to prevent floods in the Valley, today, is gasping for survival as years of encroachment and siltation are posing a mortal threat to its existence.

Despite challenges, the occupation authorities continues to sit over implementation of an ambitious multi-crore project to dredge the heavily silted Wular, a key component of lake’s massive conservation project, and restore its lost glory.

In October last year, the authorities cleared an Indo-Sino company to dredge Wular, more than six year after Rs 389 crore project for conservation of the lake was approved. The project included retrieving the encroached area of the lake and its catchment area, water management and dredging to recreate its holding capacity.

Conservation of the water body requires felling an estimated 21 lakh tress, mostly willows, inside the lake.

“The condition of the lake has gone from bad to worse. At some places it looks like a marshy land. The project is crucial to its conservation and restoring its lost glory,” an official told media. Another official raised questions over “sincerity” of the puppet administration in implementing the project.

“This project was started on a high note and lot of pomp and show. We need to ask why has its implementation slowed down first and has now been completely halted,” the official said.

Nestled between mountains, Wular acts as a huge absorption basin for floodwaters and maintains a balance in the hydrographic system of Kashmir. The lake with its associated wetlands also comprises an important habitat for migratory water birds within Central Asian Flyway and supports rich biodiversity. It is also a major fishing resource of the Kashmir valley. In recognition of its immense ecological and socio-economic importance, the Wular was designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1990. But today it stands neglected and craving for attention.

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