SRINAGAR, July 16: Relentless dumping of garbage on the banks of Asia’s largest lake in North Kashmir is posing a grave threat to its biodiversity and the overall sustainable development.
The Wullar Lake is considered as the largest freshwater lake in Asia and as per the Ramsar Convention, the lake holds an international importance due to its unique biodiversity. The locals of the area said the unattended mounds of garbage lying on the banks of the lake are discouraging the visitors and alleged that authorities for turning the pristine surroundings of the lake into waste dumping sites.
“The green pastures of ‘Zaalwan’ around its peripheries look horrible. The land used to be filled with locals who would sit and enjoy the view of the lake. However, it is difficult to spend five minutes in it these days. The water surface is covered with the garbage and ambient air is filled with a stink,” Wajid Rasool, a local, said.
Sources said the Municipal Committee (MC) Bandipora said in a catchment area of about 11.25 acres, the Committee dumps nearly 630 tonnes of garbage around the banks of Wullar every month. “Every day, the Municipal Committee dumps nearly 21 tonnes of garbage and it’s nothing new as the department has been doing it since 1968, when it came to existence,” they said.
Riyaz Ahmad, a local from Bandipora, said the newly formed Wullar Conservation and Management Authority has failed miserly to save the lake and instead seeking an alternative dumping site they are contributing in dumping the waste by providing sophisticated vehicles to the Municipal Committee. “Ironically, the vehicle with ‘Save Wullar’ illustration can be seen ferrying the garbage all day toward the lake. The inefficiency from the authorities has wasted the whole initiative,” he said.
He said the garbage gets into the lake due to swelling of the lake every year in rainy season. “The water washes off the whole area including the dumping site and all the hazardous waste gets into the water,” Riyaz added.
When contacted, an official of a Municipal Committee Bandipora said in absence of any treatment plan they are using the land filling technique to dump the waste. “On the instructions of the State Administration, an alternative site has been identified in Sumbal area of the district, the demarcation has been done. It’s a long process as many steps are to be taken for dumping purposes by high-tech machinery,” he said.
He added that “when will the project be chalked out and things begin to materialise is still an unknown thing”.