SRINAGAR: The water bodies and wetlands in occupied Kashmir Valley are shrinking with the passage of time. The Housing and Urban Development minister, Qazi Mohammad Afzal Forest and Environment minister admitted this in legislative council. Replying to questions of Sakina Itoo and Farida Mir regarding shrinking of water bodies in Kashmir, the housing and urban development minister said, “Yes, it is a fact that water bodies and wetlands of Kashmir are shrinking with the passage of time due to the anthropogenic pressure and a variety of other reasons.”
He said that the Lakes and Waterways Development Authority constituency in 1997 has been given mandate for conservation and management of Dal-Nageen lakes, for which a detailed project report at an amount of Rs 298.76 crores has been approved and administration sanction accorded by Ministry of Environments and Forests, Government of India in September 2005. “The authority looks after the sewage treatment works, solid waste management, hydraulic works, restoration and development works, catchment management works, infrastructure facilities, public awareness, unforeseen miscellaneous works and provision for land acquisition under conservation component,” the minister said.
He said that other water bodies of Kashmir are being looked after by the forest department. “A comprehensive management action plan for Wullar Lake at a cost of Rs 386.01 crores has been got prepared and the proposal is under submission to the GOI, Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) for financial assistances. The project is covered under PM’s reconstruction package”, he said. On Hokersar wetland, Qazi said that management action plan with a project cost of Rs 15.31 crores has been submitted to MOEF, GOI against which funds to the tune of Rs 31 lakhs have been received by the forest department during June 2007. “The works have been taken up and expenditure of Rs 5 lakhs spent ending July 2007,” he said.
The minister further said that a detailed project proposal has been prepared for Surinsar Mansar wetlands at a cost of Rs 6.91 crores and submitted to MOEF, GOI for financial assistance. “An amount of Rs 17.07 lakhs lying as unspent balance for Surnsar-Mansar wetlands against the release of Rs 55.79 lakhs in the year 2002-03 has been recently revalidated by the MOEF, GOI. The utilisation against the said amount of Rs 55.79 lakhs so far is Rs 38.72 lakhs,” Qazi said.
The housing and urban development minister further said that a number of steps have also been taken for preservation of Manasbal Lake. “The conservation of Anchar lake has been included in the city development plan of Srinagar city under NNURM including Khushalsar and Gilsar Lakes”, Qazi said, adding, “An amount of Rs 203 crores is proposed to be utilised for the purpose”.The minister said that there was delay in the tendering of work owing to some reasons. “Now that VC has been appointed to LWWDA, the pace of work will gain momentum”, he said.
He further said that 3 crores were being spent annually on the Dal development project and it used to be ineffective. “Now the amount has been raised to Rs 900 crores and we will see the effect of development shortly”, he said.Qazi further said that scientific advisory committee is giving recommendations to the government as to how to protect and safeguard Dal waters.He, however, expressed hope that the Dal would be cleared of all pollution within a shortest possible of time. “Unless the Dal is not cleared of pollution, the Dal cannot be saved and preserved”, he added.-SANA