(MENAFN- Kashmir Observer)
Hygam wetland is one of the abodes for lakhs of migratory birds who arrive in the Valley in winters | File photo
Pillars And Panels, Peripheral Bunds; Boat Ways Being Constructed To Restore Pristine Glory Of Water Body.
Baramulla- Neglected for decades due to official apathy, the Hygam wetland in this north Kashmir district has got a fresh lease of life due to a slew of measures taken by the Union Territory administration, including installation of boundary pillars and panels, construction of peripheral bunds, plugging of breaches and creation of boat ways.
Spread over 801.82 hectares, the Hygam wetland in Sopore was added to the list of Ramsar sites in August this year. It's one of the abodes for lakhs of migratory birds who arrive in the Valley in winters from their breeding grounds in Siberia, North-China, Philippines and North Europe.
Wildlife Warden, Wetlands Division, Kashmir in a report has said that the Department has formulated a comprehensive integrated Management Action Plan (2022-27) for (8) Wetland Conservation Reserves including Hygam.
This Plan, according to the report, has been formulated strictly in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate change.
“The Plan is approved by the competent authority and is addressing all the causes responsible for degradation in the Wetlands and scientific prescriptions have been recommended to improve upon its hydrological regimes, pollution or loss of biodiversity,” reads the report, a copy of which lies with Kashmir Observer.
It further says presently the plans are being prepared as per this Management Action Plan (MAP).
According to the report, the survey and digital delineation of Hygam Wetland Conservation Reserve has been completed jointly with the Revenue Department and Forest Demarcation Division. Further, work of installation of boundary pillars has been taken up and shall be completed in next year, out of 70 boundary pillars , 35 have been installed.
It says that some bunds like Cross bund and Gohal Tengpora Bund were established long way back (60 years ago) resulting in fragmentation of the Wetland.
“These bunds have been demolished by this division in last year i.e 2020-21 with the assistance of Revenue department, Forest Protection Force and Police retrieving thereby 2400 kanal of land from illegal encroachers,” it informs.
The wildlife department says that presently the work on consolidation of the peripheral bunds is being taken on priority.
“In this regard raising/strengthening of bunds from Tiffin Shed to Kralkhud (2.5 Km's) and from Rinji to Lolipora (2.00 Km's) has been completed. This will help in restoration of water level and will redress apprehensions of encroachments,” the report notes.
Over 145 panels have been installed around the periphery of the wetland during last year, previously these panels were damaged by“miscreants” and people showed resentment while installing.
The department says that restoration works like making of boat ways, pools, plugging of breaches is also being carried out regularly.
Regarding the pollution, the department says that the water quality monitoring of the wetland is being carried out periodically in order to monitor the status of health and plus of the wetland.
“The results reveal that water quality confirms the category B of primary water quality criteria which is within the prescribed permissible norms as per CPCB guidelines,” the report adds.
According to the department, a capacity building workshop in order to collect samples for water quality monitoring was organized in collaboration with the pollution Control Board.
“Now our field staff is collecting samples and sending it to PCB for analysis,” it says.
The department maintains that the division is regularly conducting anti-plastic drives in and around Hygam Wetland by involving local schools, N,G.O's and other stakeholders and solid waste is being removed in order to keep this protected wetland plastic free.
On migratory birds and biodiversity, the department highlights that every year the Asia Water bird census is carried out by this division in association with some NGO's/universities/ colleges/ bird watching groups and media persons.
While refuting the reports of deteriorated condition and decline of bird species in the Hygam Wetland, the report said that the census has revealed that bird species which were previously recorded within the wetland have presently also been reported within the wetland.
The details of bird counts of last few years is as under:-
Year No. of birds visited
The department said that as per the recent survey carried out by the division along with more than one lac migratory birds have been recorded in the wetland. The species include Mallard, shovlar ,pintail, common shelduck, crested poachards, Graylag geese ,Mor hens and other species.
It may be noted, a Srinagar based Environmental Police Group (EPG) and its offshoot Green Citizens Council (GCC) had visited Hygam Wetland Reserve last week and found no migratory birds.
Talking to Kashmir Observer, Wildlife Warden Wetlands, Kashmir, Ifshan Dewan said the news of like previous years, the migratory birds have arrived in this year as well and termed the report fake and baseless.
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