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Dry Winter: Livelihood of 10,000 fishermen in danger as famous Wular Lake dries up

 Dry Winter: Livelihood of 10,000 fishermen in danger as famous Wular Lake dries up

Have never seen Wullar so dry in our entire life, say Fishermen

Sajid Raina

Bandipora, Jan 15 (KNO): Once supporting almost 10,000 fishermen families across North Kashmir, the famous Wular lake is now battling for its own survival as half of the lake has dried up due to the persistent dry weather in the Valley.

In winters, local fishermen from the villages of Kehne Usa, Zurimanz, Ashtangoo, Lankrishipora, Laharwalpora and Kulhama villages extract water chestnuts from the lake through which the community earns their livelihood.

Speaking to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), Gulam Ahmad, a fisherman from Kehneusa village said that the lake now looks like a small stream. “We have to push our boats to the centre of the Wular then use our oars to run the boats as there is very less water in the Lake,” he said. “We did not have any other source of income. Since my childhood I have seen people extracting chestnuts and catching fishes from the lake. The community which earlier depended on the lake is now seeking other works.”

Another local resident Ghulam Mohi-u-Din said that they earlier caught around 10 kgs of fish a day but they now hardly catch one or two kgs as a result their livelihood is suffering a lot.

He also said that the mountains around the lake are without snow and it seems the lake did not support the community anymore. "Our ancestors were dependent on this lake, we learned from them to collect Chestnuts and catch fish but now the community have to find some other work to earn their living," Mohi-u-Din said

Muhammad Sultan, 47, from Kulhama village said: "The community is mostly illiterate and in the absence of resources; we depend wholly and solely on the lake for the whole year. But the increasing sewage in the lake is not only affecting the livelihood of the fishermen community but will also diminish the aquatic species also," he said.

He further said that the authorities should restrict people from throwing garbage in nearby streams which at the end enters Wular lake.

"These days a person can go to the center of the lake by foot, one does not need to wear shoes. The whole area has dried up. In winters, a fisherman earns at least an income of Rs 50000- Rs 60,0000 by extracting chestnuts but this year they all are sitting in their homes," Gulzar Ahmad, a fisherman said.

He said: "We are praying for early snowfall otherwise and if it doesn’t snow, we have to beg for survival.”

Nazir Ahmad, 38, a local fisherman said: “I had never seen Wular Lake so dry like this in my life. We too are responsible for this. People have been throwing garbage in the lake for decades and now the result is in front of us. The lake which provides us income is now struggling for its own survival.”

A group of locals said the Wular conservation Management authority is safeguarding the arrival of migratory birds by installing CCTV cameras but not the community that depends on the lake.

The absence of snowfall in Kashmir is not only affecting the livelihood of the fishermen community but also the tourism Industry of the valley. The tourists who visited the Valley to see the snowfall have left back with disappointment. The Metrological department of Kashmir has stated that there is no significant western disturbance till January 24 in J&K—(KNO)

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