Land Mafia,Corruption eating into The vitals of Wullar Lake

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Srinagar: Belying claims of authorities of launching an ambitious project to salvage the world famous  water body Wular Lake, fishermen from North Kashmir’s Bandipora district who staged a protest here against the Fisheries Department on Monday alleged that encroachments, rampant plantation of willows, siltation and occupation of patches by mafia for fishing purposes in the middle of the water body are eating up Wular Lake and this Asia’s largest freshwater lakes, Wular is fast losing its grandeur.

Scores of fishermen assembled at Press Enclave Srinagar and appealed Governor of the State to initiate action against a group of people who in league with Fisheries Department officials are busy in disfiguring the beauty of the Wullar Lake. The protesters alleged that officials from Fisheries Department take money from the mafia and allow them to carryout illegal encroachments and trade practices. “Right from Nengli Sopore, the illegal structures have come up along lake banks and the irony is that the encroachers after occupying a patch of water body sell it to another party for fishing purposes. The license holders are not allowed to carry out fishing practices while mafia is given free hand to loot the Lake,” a protesters Abdul Aziz Malla said.

They it is a big mafia which not only involves fishermen but also officials from various government departments. “The mafia after erecting a temporary structure along the banks of Wular Lake, gradually creep into the water bodies and occupy a vast patch by erecting logs with sign boards, thus prohibiting others from fishing in that patch of illegally occupied water body. Gradually, the mafia sells this patch to another party for fishing purposes and a due share is given to concerned government officials,” locals said.

“Wullar Lake has been silted up, encroached upon from all sides and this ever increasing encroachments and population around the Wular Lake is killing its aesthetic beauty. Wular has lost its carrying capacity due to pollution, siltation and encroachment,” the protesters said. They claimed that an honest and upright officer was transferred within a period of 45 days when that officer intensified drive against encroachments. “It is our humble request to the Governor of the State to probe the matter and initiate action against the officials who patronize the ‘mafia’ for personal gains,” they said.

Admitting that Wullar has been encroached and a mafia is active there, Assistant Director Fisheries Department Zahoor Ahmed said that they have requested Irrigation and Flood Control Department to provide one more JCB to them so that they could demolish encroachments around the lake. “We have been initialling action against the mafia and the work is going on to restore the glory of the lake,” he said.

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