Since the fact remains that Srinagar city, the Sumer capital of the state and most of the towns in Kashmir valley have witnessed massive urbanisation during last two decades, the land management has become a complex phenomenon in Kashmir valley. With hardly any regulation of urban growth, the ecology of the valley is under severe threat due to environmental hazards. Experts have time and again warned that if rapid urbanisation is allowed to continue unchecked, Kashmir’s precious wetlands might vanish within next few years. Consequently this would endanger millions of animals and migratory birds that flock to Kashmir’s wetlands every year. It has been experienced in recent years that the number of winged visitors has steadily declined at a very fast pace in Kashmir valley. Encroachment of the wetlands and their siltation by all standards of understandabilities is the major cause of decline in the number of migratory birds. Even the helmsmen in the Environment and Remote Sensing department have admitted that the government has done very little to save the precious wetlands in Kashmir. The un-planned and un-regulated growth, industrialisation and urbanisation across Kashmir have taken a heavy toll on our natural resources, like forests, lakes, rivers, streams and the ecosystems supported by these assets. Consequently the impact is alarming. Since the pace of eco-restoration and rehabilitation of affected habitats is disproportionate to the rate of degradation of our environment, huge resources are needed to restore the lost glory of our precious but fragile eco-systems? The wetlands in Kashmir have been threatened either by explosive spread of obnoxious weed growth, or by increasing pollution from indiscriminate discharge of domestic effluents and run-off from agricultural fields. The construction of increasing numbers of floating gardens and houses in and around the lake has added to pressures. All of this has speeded up the process of eutrophication in lakes, threatening the very existence of these water bodies and aquatic life in short time. In the absence of appropriate drainage and sewerage systems, Srinagar city’s effluents are directly or indirectly drained into various water bodies.
The effects of mismanagement of city wetlands will become visible only in a few decades and the wetland encroachers will bear consequences similar to what people in Kashmir valley experienced during 2014 devastating floods.
The challenge of waste disposal does not head to any dead end due to rapid population growth and unauthorised settlements that have been built in low-lying areas of Srinagar City and major towns of Kashmir valley in recent years. It is also an undeniable fact that several species of fish unique to the waters of Kashmir are in danger of extinction due to high levels of pollution. Yet another worrisome consequence of rapid urban expansion is the growing menace of timber smuggling, fuelled by the construction boom across Kashmir. In fact the uncontrolled menace of timber smuggling is the cause of widespread destruction of the forests in Jammu & Kashmir. The construction boom is not only feeding on forest wealth, but also consuming thousands of hectares of agricultural land. The concept of horizontal expansion, prevalent in Srinagar and major towns of Kashmir valley for decades, is proving quite disastrous, since, unlike vertical expansion, it consumes additional space .The effects of mismanagement of city wetlands will become visible only in a few decades and the wetland encroachers will bear consequences similar to what people in Kashmir valley experienced during 2014 devastating floods.