SRINAGAR, INDIA, Aug 24 (IPS) – Sadiq Dar, 68, is shocked how the heavy siltation of Wular Lake has turned a lot of its areas into land lots. “Once we had been rising up, we might solely see water on this lake. Now, we see cattle grazing in it whereas a big portion can also be being utilized by youngsters for taking part in cricket,” he tells IPS.
Neglected by magnificent mountains, Wular Lake is among the largest freshwater lakes in Asia and the most important flood basin of Kashmir in Bandipora district, some 34 km north of Srinagar, the summer time capital of Indian Administered Kashmir.
An international Ramsar site beneath the Ramsar conference, this lovely lake has served the folks of Kashmir for hundreds of years incomes praises from all, together with its poets.
“How lengthy will they continue to be hidden from the world … the distinctive gems that Wular Lake holds in its depth,” 20th century Urdu poet Sir Muhammed Iqbal as soon as wrote about Wular Lake’s depth and water expanse.
Nearly a century after Iqbal’s inquisitiveness, the depths of Wular have grow to be closely silted, its measurement decreased, and its pristine waters undergo from heavy air pollution. This huge Himalayan water physique and Dal Lake in Srinagar play a key function in flood administration, water safety and livelihood era within the area.
However a NASA report recently revealed that each these lakes — Dal Lake and Wular Lake — have witnessed a big discount in measurement because of land conversions, urbanization, and deforestation in latest a long time. This not solely poses a risk of repeated flooding in Kashmir however will negatively affect livelihood era and the supply of water for the communities.
“The conversion of forests to paved city areas is a major driver of the change in water high quality. Land conversion has delivered heavy sediment and nutrient masses into the lake, and untreated sewage from city areas has additionally contributed,” says the NASA report.
“A few of the vibrant inexperienced areas on the japanese facet of Wular Lake was once open water. Nutrient-rich sediment and aquatic vegetation have crammed in elements of the lake and contributed to its shrinking in latest a long time,” the report additional says and provides: “In a 2022 research, researchers in India—utilizing knowledge from the Indian House Analysis Group’s (ISRO) LISS-IV instrument—discovered that Wular Lake’s open water space had shrunk in measurement by about one-quarter between 2008 and 2019.”
In a detailed study of the lake, Wetlands International, a Netherlands-based not-for-profit that works to maintain and restore wetlands globally, had additionally revealed earlier that there was a forty five p.c discount within the lake space primarily as a result of elements of the lake had been transformed for agriculture and willow tree plantations.
Wular Lake is essential for saving Kashmir from floods. In recent times, the area has witnessed repeated flood-like conditions following the devastating 2014 flooding. The latest IPPCC reports have predicted that there shall be a rise in floods and different excessive climate occasions throughout South Asia within the coming years because the local weather disaster deepens.
The Dal Lake, says the NASA report, has suffered an analogous destiny in response to land cowl change. Researchers in Srinagar discovered that land conversion to city growth within the basin had worsened the lake’s water high quality and contributed to its decreased measurement, the report says. They discovered that between 1980 and 2018, the lake shrunk in space by 25 p.c, it added.
The marshy and water physique space of Dal Lake, a significant vacationer attraction in Srinagar, has shrunk from 2,547 hectares in 1971 to 1,620 hectares in 2008, one other research titled Impact of Urban Land Transformation on Water Bodies discovered earlier.
Methods to Cease the Lakes from Shrinking?
Wular Lake and Dal Lake are essential for the area’s flood administration and livelihood era. In addition to performing as a flood absorption basin for Kashmir throughout excessive flows within the area’s main river, Jhelum, Wular, and Dal Lake present livelihood assist to over 100,000 households depending on tourism and fishing, mentioned Samiullah Bhat, senior Assistant Professor at Kashmir College’s Setting and Science division.
To cease additional shrinkage of Wular and Dal Lakes, Bhat mentioned that soil erosion within the catchment space of those water our bodies, which is leading to these lakes changing into silted up, have to be stopped. “It’s due to the large soil erosion that elements of water our bodies are turning into landmasses,” Bhat informed IPS.
Concerning encroachments in these lakes, Bhat mentioned that geofencing is one solution to mark the boundaries of those lakes, adopted by shut monitoring. “It has been carried out lately within the case of Wular Lake, and the identical might be carried out for Dal Lake as effectively,” Bhat mentioned.
“It’s a matter of correct governance, administration and efficient enforcement of legal guidelines for the safety of environmental belongings,” he additional mentioned, including that land possession information and income information are additionally not that clear, which additionally should be addressed for safeguarding these lakes from additional harm.
Based on a study, Dal Lake represents a case of a threatened ecosystem in dire want of administration, with land use adjustments, erosion, enhanced nutrient enrichment and rising human inhabitants in its catchment as the main threats to its existence.
“Regulation of a correct land use plan within the Dal Lake catchment is important for stopping the additional nutrient enrichment and sedimentation of the lake waters,” the research says.
Aijaz Rasool, an engineer who has labored on these water our bodies beforehand, mentioned that each one the areas of Dal Lake and Wular Lake should be prioritised for full conservation work. “For years, I’ve noticed that solely these areas of the lakes get consideration that are visited by vacationers, the opposite sides get least or no consideration and maintain deteriorating and encroaching. For instance, the north-western elements of Dal Lake and Wular,” Rasool mentioned and added that when all of the areas of those lakes obtain equal conservational remedy, conserving them will get simpler.
IPS UN Bureau Report
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