A Srinagar-based environmental policy group on Tuesday issued a report and according to their report 20,000 Kanals of land out of 27, 200 kanals belonging to Asia’s one the biggest wetland areas of Hokersar lake is under illegal encroachment. According to their report, the Government of J&K has also encroached on the land and has established structures on it. Due to this unchecked encroachment, Hokersar is all set to lose its Ramsar status. The J&K High Court has directed J&K Government to vacate the area of the lake but people living in the area claim that they have purchased the area back in 1947.
Hokersar was recognized as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention as Hokera Wetland in 2005 and It falls under India’s National Wetlands Conservation Programme and is also included in the network of Important Bird Areas. Earlier the reserve was designated as a conservation reserve under the Jammu and Kashmir Wildlife Act, 1978.
Also according to the report, the areas of dal, Wular, Shallabug, Hygam, Mirgund, and other wetlands are encroached by the Government and the private players.
While talking to an official he said “according to the government records in J&K 3500 kanals of land is Hokersar but now not an inch of land is seen there. The area which many officials say is under illegal encroachment but in reality, they are not illegally encroached but they encroached with mutual agreement. The people who are living here have proper documents but the government should check these documents as the land allowed to them is 2 km away from Hokersar. Even many people don’t have documents. Even the government of J&K distributed the backside area of Hokersar for colonies”.
The Government has started vacating the area but problems have arisen for the people who are living here for the past many years.