J&K Govt To Bring Wular Lake On Tourist Map

Wular Lake – File Photo

Walkways, Shikaras; Musical Fountains To Woo Tourists To Asia’s largest Freshwater Lake

Bandipora- In a bid to woo tourists to Asia’s largest freshwater lake, the J&K administration is taking several initiatives around Wular Lake in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district.

The district administration with the help of the Wular Conservation Management Authority (WCMA) is going to construct a non-motorable walkway and cycling track around the lake besides introducing Shikara boats akin to the ones in Srinagar’s Dal Lake.

Conservator WCMA, Irfan Rasool Wani told Kashmir Observer that there is a comprehensive plan for eco-tourism in Wular Lake and the government is keen to bring the lake on tourism map.

He said the non-motorable walkway from Banyari Bridge to Naz Nallah (Length 3.20 Km) will be developed at the cost of Rs. 1942.25 lakhs and will be completed within a few years.

According to the officials, in the Phase-I, the walkway will be constructed by way of raising of existing embankment with good earth filling, construction of tiled path, providing of green space, strengthening of embankments with wire crates and its subsequent beautification by way of stone pitching.

They said the roadside amenities like viewing decks, parking spaces shall also be provided besides street lighting. The parking space at Naaz Nallah will be connect with main Srinagar-Bandipora road by way of upgradation of existing tracks

The officials said that the electric component for street lighting and illumination shall be taken up through Kashmir Power Distribution Corporation Limited (KPDCL).

The work shall be completed within two working seasons subject to availability of funds, officials said.

“The DPR has been completed. The work will start soon,” Wani said.

He said the government will also establish some ghats for the shikara and the people will be able to tour the lake easily. The lake is spread over a total area of 130 square kilometres. It was designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention in 1990.

The government is also going to construct two Delta Parks on the banks of Wular—One near Wular vintage park in Garoora and another in Watlab area of Sopore.

According to officials, non-motorable walkway is proposed to be developed by upgrading the Wular Lake to add not only to the beauty of the waterbody but also consolidate its boundaries permanently and prevent encroachment.

Chief Planning Officer, Bandipora Imtiyaz Ahmad told Kashmir Observer that the district administration is also planning to build a big monument at the Wular vintage park.

The government is also encouraging other ecotourism activities such as boating, bird watching, fishing, adventure sports etc.

“This is being done in order to generate livelihood and bring prosperity to wetland dwellers which will eventually lead to conservation of Lake,” said the official.

He said the government is also building a few huts and camping sites and food kiosks for the tourists near the lake.

Apart from this the government is also building a Musical Water Fountain with Laser, Light & Sound Show in the lake similar to one in the Dal Lake.

“It will be more beautiful than Dal Lake,” Mudasir Mehmood Malik, the coordinator of WCMA, told Kashmir Observer.

The WCMA is also working on the conservation, restoration and rehabilitation of Wular Lake. In 2018, the UT administration had sanctioned the ₹200-crore Wular Action Plan for the conservation and management of the lake.

Wani said that so far1 lakh willows have also been removed from the lake during restoration works so far which has generated revenue of Rs 24 crore to the government. He said the dredging has increased the capacity of the lake.

“Few years ago, you wouldn’t be able to see the water near the Garoora area of the district but we removed 64 lakh cubic meter silt from an area of 4.5 sq kms during the restoration process,” Wani added.

Around 30 villages are dwelling on the banks of the lake. It also supports the livelihood of a huge population and is a habitat for migratory water birds.

The Lake is famous for its finest variety of fish and chestnut. The lake produces around four metric tons of water chestnuts annually and 5,000 tons of fish annually, Mehmood Malik told Kashmir Observer.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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