Our environment is one of the most beautiful gifts bestowed by the Almighty upon mankind. Thus, the subject of environment is of great interest to man since ages. There has never been a time when man has not modified his environment. But the changes that are taking place today are major as compared to the past. Environmental pollution needs no introduction nowadays as one can feel the polluted air and see the polluted waters all around us. Water pollution has become a "white-colored" crime and the water resources have become a running problem! Today, you need not be an environmentalist to declare that our lakes are turning into garbage dumps.
Water Pollution has been markedly noticed in Kashmir, a place known for its natural beauty worldwide. One is proud to be associated with such a beautiful and lovely valley. But are we rightfully the citizens of this Valley? Someone has rightly referred to it as a "Paradise-yesterday, Hell-today" valley. Lakes and rivers have always remained the centre of attraction in the capital of this beautiful Valley- Srinagar. Wular Lake was Asia's largest fresh-water lake with an area of 225 sq. km, now reduced to mere 24 sq. km. Are you surprised? Shocked? Annoyed? Amused? No, the right reaction would be to feel ashamed! Yes, this really was Asia's largest fresh water lake- 12 miles long and 6 miles broad.
This lake lies between Sopore and Bandipora. It was most popular for its comfortable houseboats, lovely shikaras and clear water. Surrounded by breath-taking snow-clad mountains, its beauty was further enhanced. The unique feature of this lake is that at noon, daily, tides occur which is usually accompanied by storms. In spite of this, one can find tranquility and peace of mind there. Though the lake is still there as it was, the charm has been lost. This clear and pure lake has been polluted unthinkingly!
Soil erosion and effluents have damaged its beauty. Today we can see poisonous ribbons crisscrossing the lake. We have to face a lot of difficulty in moving through the dense aquatic weeds and accumulated filth in the water. Obnoxious weeds have covered this lake to a large extent. The growing population of its environs has polluted it to a large extent. Nitrates, phosphates and what not have got deposited from the surrounding landmasses, which have led to the excessive weed and plankton growth. This prevents the sunlight to penetrate through the dense phytoplankton and water crops. This results in the death and destruction of the aquatic fauna.
In the 1950's, bunds were constructed along this lake to prevent floods. Unfortunately, this affected the confluence of Jhelum with Wular. Silt was dumped straight into the lake body, leading to the creation of many sand bars. The number of wild ducks, cranes, geese and other aquatic birds decreased. Another factor affecting it adversely is the load of silt that is brought to it by the Jhelum from the southern part of the Valley as Wular Lake is situated at the foot of the Bandipora hill range. This increases its water level and affects the houses and colonies surrounding it. This sweet water lake is shrinking at a fast pace. Thus, the lake, which is declared as the wetland of global importance, seems to be dying.
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests have banned industrial activity around this lake. This is an appreciative step taken by the Government, but it would go a long way in preventing the death of Wular Lake if it is implemented practically. These issues are not to be left to a few environmentalists or to the concerned authorities only, but we have to pitch in to help them improve our Lake. Lifestyles and habits of the people need to be changed. We have to make positive efforts to conserve and clean our limited water resources. People are to be educated and made aware of the plight of this lake. Garbage is not to be dumped into the lake. Any illegal encroachment, in and around the lake, should be reported. If we make sincere efforts to keep the water body clean, we can witness the rebirth of our beautiful lake. Against conflict, we have to develop harmony with nature.
If we treat nature well, nature will treat us well in return. It all depends on the attitude and habits cultivated by us.