Lal Singh reviews progress of Wullar Lake conservation project
Minister for Forests, Environment and Ecology, Choudhary Lal Singh on Tuesday took review of the Wullar Lake conservation project and construction of the Boulevard around the lake.
The Minister took detailed review of the project, seeking various suggestions and recommendations from the concerned officials. He directed the officials to expedite the project work. He said the government is committed to expedite development across the State as far as the vital projects are concerned.
The Minister said that Government is mulling to create 34.58 kms Boulevard project, costing around Rs 700 crore for revamping the Asia’s largest fresh water lake and it would help the State to boost the tourism sector.
“The project will be completely eco-friendly and we won’t allow any vehicles alongside the proposed road, as only battery cars would be plying on the road,” Mr Singh said adding; “Conservation of the lake besides many other lakes and water bodies is the top most priority to the Government and we will take all necessary measures to create an impact in this regard,” Mr Singh informed the officials during a review meeting here.
Wullar Lake is a wetland of international importance after it was declared a Ramsar site for conservation.
The meeting was attended by senior officers of the Authority.
The officials apprised the minister about the project and stressed that the de-silting launched under the comprehensive Wullar Lake Conservation and Management Plan (WCMP) is on. The officials informed the meeting that the work needs a greater impetus to increase the water holding capacity of the lake. The officials said that the proximity to the road network is 42.3 kms, while as total perimeter of the Wullar Boundary is 83.6kms. The proposed Wullar Boulevard project is supposed to begin from Garoora to Sopore, covering around 34.58 kms. The officials gave a detailed power point presentation to the minister and said that under embankment dredging various works are being carried out. The officials said that under Eco-Tourism, various look out points, wooden Ghats, tourist information centre, parking areas, besides many other initiatives would be undertaken.
The Minister underlined the importance of Wullar Lake in protecting the Kashmir valley from floods by acting as a huge water storage reservoir. He said the de-silting effort launched under the comprehensive Wular conservation and management plan needs greater impetus to increase the water holding capacity of the lake. He said that the ongoing conservation and protection measures for eco-restoration of Wullar Lake and its feeder channels, associated wetlands and marshes should gain momentum in view of the massive floods that struck the Valley in September 2014.
He said the Wullar Lake provides a natural way out for the excess or flood waters in the Jhelum and it needs to be protected and conserved at all cost. The Minister was informed that under the 13th Finance Commission, Rs 120 crore were sanctioned for taking up conservation and protection measures in Wullar Lake, out of which Rs 60 crore were allotted. The officials informed the meeting that entire periphery of the lake had been demarcated as per authentic revenue record which indicates a lake area of 130 sq kms. As many as 1,159 geo-tagged boundary pillars have been erected delineating the lake boundary from the adjoining areas.
The Minister was also appraised that the measures to arrest soil erosion in the catchment area have been taken by erecting check dams and protection banks and planting over 3 lakh.
Pertinently earlier Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti while taking a review of the project had called for deployment of more men and machinery on the project to finish it within a set time-frame. She had called for approaching the Dredging Corporation of India for dredging the lake on a large scale. The Chief Minister, however, stressed the need for creating alternative economic and employment avenues–by promoting sheep farming, dairying, fisheries–for the local population affected by the conservation project.