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Desilting to de-weeding: Govt rolls out Rs 47 crore Integrated Management Action Plan to rejuvenate Kashmir wetlands

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Srinagar:  Waking up to pollution and rampant encroachment, Jammu and Kashmir government has rolled out an Integrated Management Action Plan to restore the pristine glory of wetlands in the valley.

At an overall budget of Rs 46.70 crore, the project will be completed in five years (2022-27). As per the action plan document, Rs 18.93 crore will be spent on water management, which is critical to wetland rejuvenation. Likewise, Rs 13.15 crore will be spent on biodiversity conservation.

 

According to the plan, Rs 7.49 crore has been apportioned for Education Awareness and Eco-Tourism, besides, Rs 0.80 crore for the Sustainable Resource Development and Livelihood Development. Similarly, Rs 6.33 crore will be spent on Institutional Development.

A budget of Rs 16.13 crore has been earmarked for eight wetlands. Of which, Rs 9.454 crore on Hokersar wetland, Hygam wetland; Rs 12.80 crore on Shalbug wetland; Rs 2.03 crore  on Mirgund wetland; Rs 2.768 crore on Chattlum; Rs 1.36 crore on Freshkoori wetland; Rs 1.215 crore on Kranchoo and Rs 0.942 crore on Manibugh.

As per the action plan, the commonest problem of wetlands is the siltation, which has decreased the volume of water reservoirs.

It said the negative impact of this massive inflow of silt is making wetlands less shallow,  gradual decrease of the water spread within the wetland area, and shift in macrophytic community.

The action plan also highlighted the weed infestation in wetlands as the proportion of species including Hydrilla, Azolla, Spirodella, Salvinia, Lemna, Barberea Vulgaris, Ceratophyllum, Nasturtium, Typha, Butomus umbellatus, Cyperus sp. and Potamegton is quite high and has assumed nuisance proportions.

 “These weeds have posed great threats to all these wetlands. The presence of such 12 vegetation is the result of an infestation of silt and nutrient enrichment,” it said.

Other common threats identified by the action plan include pollution, habitat modification, and degradation of water quality, deposition of solid waste, and massive encroachments.

Pertinently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) last month took a strong note on the condition of the lake particularly unscientific dumping of waste and encroachment around Wular Lake and has sought an action plan from the Union Territory government for each of the wetland within one month for further action in a time-bound manner.

In response to the NGT directions, Divisional administration had ordered that the matter of land under cultivation may be taken so that action may be taken as per the NGT directions within 15 days.