Water bodies grow ‘silently’ inside J&K’s green cover

As per the report there has been 20 sq km increase in water bodies within J&K forests in past one decade while the total area under water bodies has grown to 287 sq km.

Muddasir Ali
Srinagar, Publish Date: Feb 15 2018 12:18AM | Updated Date: Feb 15 2018 12:18AM
Water bodies grow ‘silently’ inside J&K’s green coverFile Photo

Away from human interference, deep inside J&K’s forests, water bodies are growing “significantly”, at a time when state’s rivers and streams are shrinking fast.

J&K is one among many states which have witnessed an increase in the area under water bodies inside the green cover, India State of Forest Report (ISFR)-2017 by Forest Survey of India (FSI) has brought to fore.

As per the report there has been 20 sq km increase in water bodies within J&K forests in past one decade while the total area under water bodies has grown to 287 sq km. 

The forests in Jammu and Kashmir contribute 10.46 percent of total 222236 sq km of state’s geographical area.

Head earth sciences department Kashmir University, Prof Shakil Ramshoo said water bodies in forests including high altitude and glacial lakes play an important role in maintaining ecological balance and act as feeding sources to recharge ground water table and rivers and streams.

The conservator of forests, north circle, Irfan Rasool Wani said water bodies within the forests are an indicator of quality forests and healthy forest cover.

“This increase in the water bodies is also significant given the pressure on our rivers and streams due to encroachment,” said Wani.

However Prof Ramshoo said he was “surprised” about the outcome of the FSI study regarding water bodies in J&K forests saying “ground reality doesn’t reflect it except for formation of glacial lakes.”

The total area under water bodies within J&K forests is less compared to what it is in other states like Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. But officials argue that J&K being the hilly state was the main reasons for it.

All the water bodies which are located inside the forested area or up to a kilometer from its boundary have been considered under the study about growth of water bodies inside the green cover, reads the FSI report.

As already report by Greater Kashmir today J&K’s forest and tree cover has grown from 22988 sq kms to 23241 sq km, constituting 10.46 percent of total 222236 sq kms of state’s geographical area. This increase of 253 sq kms in the green footprint is being attributed to afforestation and other factors.

Over the years the state, particularly Kashmir region, has been witnessing shrinking of water bodies owing to rapid urbainsation and encroachment of these bodies. Most of the wetlands and streams in the Valley have either shrunk or vanished while a large part of rivers like Jhelum, which is described as lifeline of the region, has been encroached upon.

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