The Wet-lands of Kashmir
Though world is celebrating wet-land day on 2nd February, 2016, we have little to celebrate as we have been witnessing the death of these wet lands due to our callousness and that of the authorities. Most of our wetlands have got converted into housing colonies, or got silted up over the years or have been filled up by land-fill with solid waste disposal and even disposal of untreated liquid wastes.
“In Kashmir, a swamp or wet-land is called ‘Nambal’, which is such a type of land, in which a portion of water mixes with a part of land and is always wet. At some places cattle sink and perish in it. At places it is hard; such type of land is cultivable as well as barren. In cultivable areas, the peasants use shovels to dig it for paddy plantation. At some places where land is not so hard, people plough it in water for sowing seeds. There is abundance of wild grass and reed in barren marshes”- records Tarikh-i-Hasan about a century back. During winter many of these wet-lands would attract migratory birds from as far as Siberia, Central Asia and other remote areas to escape harsh winters. Many of these water bodies which served as flood lungs have vanished due to the pressure of urbanization.
According to Tarikh-i-Hassan written a century back, these were as under:
Bemina Nambal : On the south of Srinagar adjacent to Batamaloo is a vast plain with some under cultivation of crops. There are springs and ponds of water in iy. Reed and other types of grass is produced here. During Kharif season, people plough land and uproot grass roots. After drying it they use it for cooking, replacing dry cow dung. Its scanty water-supply joins river Behat atop a bridge at Shalateng. (Presently it is a full-fledged housing colony, besides housing fruit mandi, Government offices, JVC hospital etc. after a land fill of 7 to 10 ft. depth, leaving no space for flood absorption.)
It is in the middle of city towards north. In past, its water was clear and wavy. Now-a-days it is full of reed. In some places there are small pools of water. In summer, its waters joining Dal waters leaves through Nala Mar. It is dry in winter. (At present Nala Mar has been converted into a four lane road with shop-lines on either side. All the filthy drainage of about 4 lakh people has been flowing into this mini lake, with a reverse flow into Dal lake for over two decades. Now a gated connection has been given with river Jhelum near Biscoe bridge. Besides a garland sewer with a treatment plant has been constructed for treatment of the filthy drainage of the surrounding population.)
Tulla Mullah Nambal:
A vast swamp with agricultural fields on its sides, and rich growth of reed and grass. In its centre lies village Tulla Mulla, and famous spring of Khir Bhawani. In the past several canals were dug out of it for cultivation of crops. Now, with the passage of time, the canals have been replaced by reed plains. About the wonders of Kashmir, the historians have recorded that fishes are produced out of Tulla Mulla soils. In fact in the said swamp water level had raised at some spots. This deep water associated with other canals is home for fishes. For fishing people made a hole on the floor of earth, fitted an instrument of wood, which is the specific instrument of fisherman and from that hole, they catch fish by an iron rod. There are various springs in this swamp and their waters after joining Sindlar river, flow into river Behat at Shardapur. (A Central University campus is reported to be coming up in the vicinity now.)
To the north of Safapur, is a vast and spacious swamp, with some of its parts ideal for cultivation. In its middle, are reed and grasslands. Birds are in abundance for hunting. Its water passes through Ajas Nalah and then joins Ular lake.
Dur Nambal: It is spacious swamp to the south of Sopore, which is full of water in summer and is dry during winter. Water nuts grow here. Its water joins with river Behat.
It is situated near village Delina in Pargana Krohen, which is always covered under reed. Its banks are inhabited by people. Its water joins river Behat at Goras Boni.
It is also called as Konahbal swamp. It is towards east from Pampore and is covered under grass. Its water flows down in river Behat.
Eth Khuro Nambal:
It is situated in Pargana Lar adjacent to village Chhandrah. Its water joins river Behat enroute Sind.
It is situated in Pargana Dachinapora, near Marhama village. Its water joins river Behat.
Most of these wetlands are either getting extinct or are on the verge of extinction. Our lakes like Wullar, Dal, Manasbal, Anchar, Khushhal Sar, Gil Sar etc. are also endangered. A serious effort is needed for saving the remaining water bodies and wet lands so vital for our survival.