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Wullar struggling for survival, so do those who draw livelihood from it  

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Peerzada Waseem

Sopore: Spread over 240 sq km, Wular Lake of north Kashmir is amongst Asia’s largest fresh water lakes. It’s home to many aquatic animals and thousands of people draw livelihood from it. Over the years, however, the lake has degraded due to pollution. The fish were abundant in the expansive lake but have almost vanished now. Chest nuts production too has gone down along with

The Lake provides 55% of the local fish supply to Valley. Species like cyprinus carpio, barbus and other fishes are the dominant fish species in the lake and more than 70 thousands draw livelihood.

Ghulam Hassan (50) from Zurumanz is professional fisherman. He is disappointed by the government inaction to clean the lake which has severely affected his livelihood.

“The production of fish, Nadroo and water chestnuts are falling by every passing season because of the increasing pollution,” Hassan added.

Because of the decrease in the resources, the fishermen hardly make two ends meet. “I along with my son leave home to reach the lake very early every morning. With blazing sun overhead but return is too meager despite painstaking efforts,” he says. “We collect chest nuts, Nadroo and fishes to feed our families but it’s scanty,”Hassan said.

Another fishermean Ab Aziz told INS “Wular lake’s fishes are very tasty and are in demand. But the species of fishes are highly effected because of the pollution from different channels especially that of Jhelum.”

It has also added to unemployment among the youth “who rightly are not relying on it as used to be the tradition,” he said.

The fishermen have made a union of Sopore and Bandipora fishermen. The main objective of the union is to tackle the situation of illegal fish pouching and protect Wular lake.

Sopore union president Farooq Ahmed told INS: “we knocked the doors of government officials and ministries but all in vain. Wular lake has gone through massive siltation, encroachment and pollution in recent years. Fish are diminishing”.

“Earlier a person could collect a boatful of chestnuts about 50kgs in few hours but it decreased to 15 kgs after toiling for the whole day.”

He alleged government was not paying attention to the issue. “Despite assurance no steps has been taken for the issue.”

AD fisheries Sopore Abdul Ahad told INS that there is no fish production. Increasing pollution and decreasing water level of Wular Lake has affected the fish ratio.

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