'Where are the Fish?' Ask Fishermen of Dying Wular Lake, Struggling to Survive

Wular is the second-largest freshwater lake in Asia. But it is slowly dying due to encroachment and pollution.

My Report
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Wular in North Kashmir is the second-largest freshwater lake in Asia. But the lake is slowly dying due to encroachment and pollution.

Wular lake in North Kashmir is the second-largest freshwater lake in Asia.

(Image courtesy: Abdul Basit)


I am a trout farmer. Trout is a fish that is very healthy and high in protein. There was a time when this fish was found in Wular too. This place is my hometown, and I can see the difference that has come (to the lake) in the last few years. 

I remember when we used to visit this place earlier, we used to feel that Wular was a god’s gift to the people living in Kashmir. But now, if we look at Wular, it is on the verge of drying up. It has already dried up in a lot of areas.  

Wular lake is dying due to pollution and encroachment. 

(Image courtesy: Abdul Basit)

It's becoming difficult for people living off the lake to remain unaffected anymore. The locals here are mainly dependent on fish farming and now, their livelihood is being threatened.

Abdul Aziz, a fisherman, who has been into this business for over 30 years told me, "Years ago, the lake had depth, but the depth has further reduced because of the pollution that comes from the cities. Even the fish are dying.  Earlier, we used to get loans easily, when we asked our employers, but now, they refuse to lend us any because they know, we don't make enough money. We have no money, which is also one of the reasons, our kids are unable to receive a good education. There is no way we can help them."

The lives of fishermen are affected as they are dependent on fish farming.

(Image courtesy: Abdul Basit)


Many fishermen and locals have lost their livelihood or they are barely able to make ends meet due to the lack of resources available now.

Wular lake was home to varieties of fish and migratory birds, but with the increase in pollution, the fish have disappeared, affecting the farmers.

Abdul Samad Dar, a fisherman for 45 years has noticed a difference in Wular's depth.

"The Wular lake used to be 20 ft to 25 ft deep, but now it's hardly 2 ft deep. Kasher Gaa'd (a type of Kashmiri fish) has disappeared now, because of this pollution. Earlier, we used to make some profit, but now, we hardly earn Rs 300 per day, and some days, we return empty-handed." 
Abdul Samad Dar, Fisherman

'Don't Ignore Wular!' 

The government of Jammu and Kashmir did take a few steps to save or clean Wular, but they were just for a particular place, usually a tourist areas. But if we look at the larger picture, Wular is not the same.

"Wular is dying. It’s been happening for years now. The concerned authorities do not care, they have never come here to look at it. All the concern is for Dal Lake, which is great, but then Wular should not be ignored. It should hold the same importance."
Ismail Ashna, Social Activist

The government needs to take strict action, so that, the people who are dependent on the lake can continue to work and not lose their livelihood.  


The Quint tried reaching out to Wular Conservation and Management Authority, their response is awaited.


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Topics:  Kashmir   Jammu and Kashmir   Dal Lake 

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