Green is not welcome, at least in Wullar, Asia’s largest fresh water lake in Kashmir. For, weeds have choked the lake – once a flashing beauty tucked among the mountains. And it is shrinking, as villagers are filling it up with land to grow paddy.
Ironically, viewing points are being set up at huge costs around the lake. There are pleasant parks, flowerbeds and gazebos, intended to offer a splendid view of the lake. But the only view this once 24-km-long and 10-km-wide lake now has on offer is of a vast stretch of weeds.
Local residents are nostalgic about the days when the lake waters would touch the road to Bandipore, where there are vast paddy fields today. It is also a natural reservoir to hold the water of the Jhelum.
For several years, Pakistan has not agreed to India’s request for the permission to build a barrage at the mouth of Wullar in order to regulate transport in the Jhelum. Pakistan’s clearance is a must because of the Indus Water Treaty that forbids India to build any hydel projects or irrigation systems on the Jhelum, Indus and Chenab rivers without Islamabad’s consent.
However, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah recently took up the issue with the Union Water Resources Minister Saif-ud-Din Soz, but the state government has not yet been able to draw up a plan to save the lake.