Conserving the wetlands

The negligence and carelessness of various government agencies in according protection and conserving the wetlands of this state once again came to fore today during proceedings of a Public Interest Litigation before the J&K High Court in which the petitioners have sought demolition or removal of the encroachments on the water bodies/ wetland reserves and other reserves within the State and restore them in their original form. It is really unfortunate that the enforcement of rules that is the primary duty of the executive is not being properly concentrated upon by the men and machinery at the helm of affairs in the concerned departments as a result of which the precious time of the judiciary has to be consumed for the issues that could have been easily resolved by the administration. The height of things is that the attitude of the government representatives in various courts in making efforts in the direction of lingering on the proceedings is further detrimental to the already flawed system. In the instant PIL the Division Bench of Jammu and Kashmir High Court at its Jammu Wing has directed that a Police post be created at Gharana Wetland which would assist the officials of the Wild Life Department to take various measures on spot for preserving the wetland besides various other directions to restore the original area of Gharana Wetland. It is a fact that the state of Jammu and Kashmir is known for its matchless hospitality towards the guests, but at the same time it is an irony that the hospitality towards the winged guests is under grave threat with the shrinking wetlands in this state. The state has been an abode for a variety of aves species including Brahminy Duck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Garganey, Greylag Goose, Mallard, Common Merganser, Northern Pintail, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Pochard, Red-Crested Pochard, Ruddy Shelduck, Northern Shoveler, Common Teal, and Eurasian Wigeon which are some of the most sighted birds in the wetlands of this crown state of the world’s largest democracy after these migrate from Central Asia and Europe during the winter months. The state which is already blessed with nature’s bounty experiences further vibrance with these migratory birds making the season as well as the environs colourful and lively. However given the carelessness on the part of various stakeholders be it the concerned agencies or the people at large as of today these winged visitors might be forced to look for alternative winter homes in the near future due to increasing encroachments, waste disposal and noise pollution having reached alarming level in the wetlands across the state. About ten lakh migratory birds leave for their summer sojourn across continents after having lived winter months in the wetlands of Jammu and Kashmir to escape harsh cold weather back home.   These wetlands undoubtedly form one of the most significant ecosystems supporting equally important biodiversity in the region and it becomes our foremost duty to ensure the preservation of such ecosystems at all costs. Wetlands are essential for maintaining bio-diversity, water harvesting and water availability. Now that the High Court has already been issuing multiple directions in this regard focussing upon the coordination amongst the government departments, it is high time for one and all to rise to the occasion and initiate measures to preserve and enhance the wetlands that we are left with today by proceeding at individual as well as community level besides government as well as NGO levels and stop encroachment of the wetlands and unscientific waste disposal that have been playing havoc around these ecosystems. It needs to be realized that conservation of rich ecosystems is the only way to guarantee Right to Quality Life for which ‘synchronized efforts’ is the key and of course need of the hour.