Kashmir’s Wular Lake is dealing with the consequences of extreme weather change, leading to dessication thereby, affecting the livelihood of thousands of fishermen. As one of the largest freshwater lakes in South Asia, Wular sustains the lives of many by providing bountiful of chestnuts, fishes and lotus stems (Nadur).
The chestnuts on the edge of the lake are either decaying or being eaten by birds. In addition the fishes in the water are barely visible, as per Mahigeer Association Bandipora presdient Ghulam Hassan Bhat.
Bashir Ahmed, a local fisherman said to Maktoob Media, “We used to sell chestnuts in winter season and that money was helping us to sustain in Summer but this year the business has been all-time low.”
Farooq Ahmad, president of the Sopore Fishermen Union said that fishermen have been forced to lower their daily wages from ₹600 to around ₹200-₹250 because of the dry spell-induced conditions and are looking for other sources of income to attain financial stability.
A significant lack of precipitation in the Kashmir valley has led to the the drying of the lake, reducing the depth of the water at the center of the lake from 7-8 feet to around 4 feet as per Maktoob Media.
Rising temperatures in the area due to climate change has reduced the extent of snowfall in the mountain valley. The months of December and January saw a 79 per cent deficit and 100 per cent deficit in precipitation, respectively.
Kashmir Dry Spell Affecting Local Economy
The tourism in the state, which contributes to 7 per cent of J&K’s GDP, has also suffered a major blow due to the lack of snowfall this year. It also generates employment for almost 70,000 people.
Further, the precipitation in the area replenishes the Dal lake, Lidder river, Sind river. The snow and glaciers which melt in spring and summer provide water which is crucial for the irrigation of agriculture and horticulture crops. Weather forecaster Faizan Arif said how similar dry conditions in 2022 had taken a toll on paddy cultivation, impacting irrigation and production.
As per meteorological data, EL-Nino and Western Disturbances are also affecting the weather patterns in Kashmir, making the days warmer than usual coupled with frigid nights.
On Friday, January 26, light rainfall and snow were reported in various parts of Kashmir including Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonamarg, Gurez and Srinagar providing a beacon of hope to many. Although the amount of precipitation was lower than usual, it marked an end to the months long dry spell.
Light snowfall will likely continue till January 31 in some areas, as per weather reports.