Considered as one of the largest fresh-water lakes of Asia-- Wular Lake is the source of livelihood for around 9000 families who live in the vicinity of the water body.
Situated on the foothills of Harmukh Mountain, the lake is spread over in total area of 130 square kilometres and is located in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district.
Over the past few years the government has accelerated efforts to check encroachments and carry out desilitation of the water body owing to its huge importance.
Mudasir Mehmood Malik, who works as coordinator in Wular Conservation & Management Authority (WCMA) told Rising Kashmir they were facing challenge to carry out the desilitation process for around 27 sqkm, of which around 4 sqkm of the lake has been desilited.
The River Jhelum is Wular Lake's primary source of water. In the middle of the lake sits a little island known as the 'Zaina Lank.' King Zainul-Abi-Din constructed this island. The lake is also said to be a relic of Satisar Lake, which once existed. The lake is also a popular spot for sunsets.
As per official figures, the lake is the largest fisheries resource in Kashmir valley supporting the livelihoods of large human population living along the area.
The officials at Wular Conservation & Management Authority (WCMA) said that around 60 percent of fish supply from Kashmir is being catered by the Wular Lake.
Malik said that the lake has been a source of income for thousands of families in the area with the production of lotus stem, water chestnuts and fish.
Annually there is a production of around 5000 metric tons of water chestnuts from the lake, and around 4000-5000 metric tons of fish comprising around 11 species, of which ‘common Carp’ is highest in volume.
While the illegal encroachments has been always a concern specially with the government lands and water bodies, Malik said the boundaries of the lake are digitised and have been demarcated with Geo-tagging.
“Even if anyone tries to tamper with the boundary walls, or remove the pillars, it is all mapped, we track the location and ensure swift action,” he said.
He further adds that the lake hosts around one lakh migratory birds of around fifty different species from various countries.
Malik along with the team of Wular Conservation & Management Authority have been proactive towards imparting the awareness to the locals of the area to sensitizing them on waste management for keeping the water body neat and clean.
“People in the area know the importance of the water body and thousands earn their livelihood from it. As part of the sensitisation programme of Wular Conservation & Management Authority we calibrate them and sensitise them on keeping the lake clean,” he added.