In a significant development, the Jammu and Kashmir government has set the ball rolling for preparation of integrated management plan for nine wetlands of Kashmir.
According to wire service— Kashmir News Observer (KNO), to begin with, the Wetlands Division of Wildlife department has invited bids from consultancies for preparation of integrated management plan for Hokersar (Srinagar/Budgam), Hygam (Baramulla), Shallbugh (Ganderbal/Srinagar), Mirgund (Baramulla- Budgam), Manibugh (Pulwama), Kranchoo (Pulwama), Chatlum (Pulwama), Freshkoori (Pulwama) and Malgam (Bandipora).
Of these, Hokersar wetland has been declared as wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention, 2005.
As per KNO, the remaining eight were notified as wetlands under cabinet order 710-C of 1945, dated 17.07.1945.
According to documents, the plan shall identify and describe present and potential threats of the wetlands and suggest a restoration plan to mitigate/ respond to the threat(s) identified for conservation of these bodies.
The plan shall focus on impact of the natural growth of population on theses wetland during the past decade. Officials said that the plan shall also focus on activities to be permitted and regulated in these bodies and their zones of influence.
The plan, according to officials, shall also propose measures to prevent unauthorized construction, encroachment and land conversion in these water bodies.
It is worthwhile to mention here that these wetlands play an important role in hydrographic system of Kashmir by acting as huge absorption basins for the flood waters. These bodies also accommodate thousands of migratory birds during winters and offer breeding ground for resident birds.