Wular lake is one of the popular and largest freshwater lakes in Asia. It is located 60 km far from north-east of Srinagar city in the district of Bandipore in the Indian part of Jammu and Kashmir. It is formed as a result of tectonic activity. With a size of 189 sq. km, Wular lake has a maximum depth of 5.8m. It is 16 km long and 10 km wide. Wular lake has become a common picnic spot for the local people and tourists alike. The experience of soaking around the Wular lake is amazing. The Wular lake, surrounded by beautiful landscapes and hills, is exotic and soothing to the visitors.
A huge absorption channel and source of employment
Wular lake works as a huge absorption channel to the flood waters of Kashmir valley and absorbs a large quantity of water that flows into river Jhelum. Wular lake is also a great source of employment for thousands of local population. Wetland international suggests that 32,000 families, including 2300 fisher households, living on the Wular's shore depends on it for livelihood. Variety of fishes are produced from the lake such as Common Crap, Rosy Barb, Mosquito fish and various Snow trout species. Chestnuts are also produced from the lake. But, due to the siltation and encroachment, these water bodies are shrinking and putting their livelihood at stake.
Wular lake is home to a large number of birds
Waters of Wular Lake in Kashmir is also home to a large number of terrestrial birds, therefore, the visit to the lake is a nice sojourn for people interested in natural beauty. Terrestrial birds like the Black-eared Kite, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Short-toed Eagle, Himalayan golden Eagle, Rock Dove, Common Cuckoo and Indian Roller are hovering around the Wular lake.
'Mout khone' or 'Gulf of Corpses' is the deepest part of the Wular lake. Usually, local fishermen avoid these areas due to high risk and deadly waves, that is why the area is known as 'Mout Khone' or Gulf of Corpses' by local people. But generally, the place is calm and attractive; its majestic beauty fascinates every visitor.
Tulbul navigation and Indus water treaty
One significant thing about Wular lake that makes it famous all over the world is the Tulbul navigation project. Tulbul navigation project is constructed at the mouth of the Wular Lake on river Jehlum. It acts as a "navigation lock-cum-control structure". The project was considered in the early1980s and work began in 1984. However, the Tulbul project became bone of contention between India and Pakistan since 1987. Pakistan blames India for violating the 1960 Indus water treaty. Pakistan fears that the project would hamper the flow of water to Pakistan and India denies these allegations as baseless and thinks the project is permissible under the 1960 Indus water treaty.
While I'm writing this piece, The Pakistani delegation is already here on a two-day visit to inspect these projects. These visits are a compulsion for both the countries under the Indus water treaty. 118 such tours have taken place since the signing of the treaty.
Wular lake comes under Ramser Convention
Wular Lake, Asia's largest lake is one of the 25 Indian wetlands designated to be of international importance under the Ramser convention of 1971 UNESCO. However, the lake faces the environmental threats like the conversation of the lake into agriculture fields, hunting of birds, and pollution from animal wastes and fertilizers.
The Lake is the amalgamation of a variety of things known around the globe. It's serene, unruffled and its majestic beauty is astounding and refreshes one's mind and soul. From Ramsar conservation to the Tulbul navigation project, Wular Lake is aesthetic and beguiling.