Protected wetlands

Whether there is sufficient and foolproof data available in respect of all wetlands in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir expected to be more than 3754 and what is the present status of such wetlands barring a few known only and which specific department or departments were to manage such wetlands must be clearly spelt out and made known. It is learnt that host of departments, local Government Bodies and Governmental agencies were controlling and regulating them. However, we feel, full information is either not fully compiled or if it is, it is not found to be reliable or is updated regularly. Verily pointing to such a scenario, the Chief Secretary has recently directed the Forest Department being the nodal department, to prepare digital inventory, documentation and development of geo- spatial data-base on wetlands in Jammu and Kashmir. Not only this, that there should also be a proper notification to this effect under the Environment Protection Act 1986 and other Conservation Rules would all lend the entire management of wetlands a meaningful fresh but invigorating initiative towards conservation and exploiting the same for tourism potential. We in Jammu and Kashmir, being blessed with so many wetlands but with poor management and sustenance, their overall condition needs to be improved under a well formulated and designed plan and implementation process thereof. It is a commendable step of the UT Government to have wetlands like the Wular, Dal, Nageen, Sanasar, Manasbal Lakes and Purmandul brought under protection and conservation category as protected wetlands. Instances of encroachments and pollution of worrying levels of these wetlands are among the issues on priority requiring the focussed attention of Forest and Revenue Departments, Wildlife, Soil and water conservation Departments and other concerned Government agencies.