Action plan for 3 threatened J

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New Delhi, Aug 19 (UNI) Jammu and Kashmir Government has sent to the Centre its management action plans for the conservation of the three world famous lakes--Wullar (Srinagar), Surinsar-Manser (Jammu) and Tsomorari(Ladakh) but further action is held up as the Ministry of Environment and Forests wants other Ministries too to share the cost.

The three lakes have been declared as Ramsar sites. The Ramsar Convention is an inter-governmental treaty aimed at protecting the world's important wetlands. A wetland notified as Ramsar site gets special world attention.

Restoration of the original beauty and quality of three lakes has been provided for in the Prime Minister's reconstruction package for the state given in 2004. However, the cost for the projects was to be borne by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

However, the Ministry feels that projects relating to conservation involved tourism, agriculture, education and other departments, because of which other ministries concerned too should be involved to pool in resources for the work, an official told UNI.

Wullar is Asia's largest freshwater lake, but it is on the verge of extinction due to human activities like encroachment, discharge of sewage and massive plantation inside the lake by locals.

The lake acted like an absorption basin for floodwaters and played a very important role in maintaining a balance in the Valley's hydrographic system.

Wullar waters are spread in 189 sq km which in floods extended upto 273 sq km. However, because of massive encroachments and siltation, the lake has been reduced to mere 72 sq km.

The other lake included in the Prime Minister's reconstruction package is Tsomorari which is one of the largest lakes in Ladakh region. Situated at a height of about 4900 m, this lake is about 22 km long, width varying from 5 to 7 km and has a depth of more than 30 m at the deepest point.

The lake initially had freshwater but later it became brackish and finally salty. The water is unfit for human consumption now. In winter, the surface of the Tsomorari Lake freezes.

The Surinsar-Mansar lakes in Jammu with crystal clear water are situated at a height of 600 to 700 m above mean sea level.

They are of immense religious and historic importance and have great attraction for tourists, hosting some rare migratory birds of different species.

However, deforestation of the catchment area of the lakes have played havoc, with the life of the two lakes denuding. Because of deforestation and environmental degradation, the lakes are gradually shrinking and polluting.

The Ministry says that the problems faced byball the three lakes were massive and needed the efforts and resources of different ministries.

After receiving the management action plan from the state, the Ministry has now constituted a committee of experts to examine the proposals, the official said.

The committee was scheduled to visit the sites but has deferred the plan in view of the ongoing unrest in the state.

However, it has initiated moves for calling a meeting of ministers to discuss the management action plan and other related issues.

UNI NAZ SB GC0931

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