Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta Saturday visited the Shallabugh Wetland in the Ganderbal District and took stock of the restoration measures being taken to rejuvenate it to its pristine glory.
Those who accompanied him on the occasion included Principal Secretary, Forests; Deputy Commissioner, Ganderbal; Chief Wildlife Warden; Regional Wildlife Warden, Kashmir; Superintendent of Police, Ganderbal besides other concerned officers of the Forest Department.
During the visit Dr Mehta maintained that the Wetland has shown a lot of improvement in recent past. He observed that the Wetland has a rich diversity of both flora and fauna. It has therefore a great potential to be developed as a major eco-tourism destination. He stressed on taking all measure necessary to conserve both the plant and animal life besides desilting the water body. He asked the officers to regularly monitor its dissolved oxygen, pH and other bioindicators so that they are maintained in the normal range through targetted interventions.
Chief Secretary stated that in order to bring this picturesque place on the tourist map, world class eco-tourism amenities should be created here for attracting wild life lovers from all across the country. He urged them to improve the road surface leading to the destination without any delay.
Dr Mehta also impressed on the officers to look into the creation of other facilities like designated parking area, viewing decks, and landscaping of its surroundings to make them aesthetic and appealing for the tourists. He asked them to involve the local PRIs and the community in the overall planning and restoration measures. He termed their role essential as the local people would be the greatest beneficiaries both in terms of gaining employment and better environment.
Chief Secretary discussed various issues related to the sustainable conservation of the Wetland and directed immediate measures like Bio-fencing of the lake area using willow species, Solid waste management, procuring of adequate number of fibreglass boats for visitors, introduction of ATVs, promoting local homestays in the adjoining villages, zero tolerance against bird hunting and poaching and promoting sustainable use of wetland resources for livelihood improvement of the local villagers.