Prof.(Dr). R.D. GuptaAquatic ecosystems comprise of freshwater and marine habitats. The major examples of fresh water habitats are streams, rivers, springs, lakes, marshes and ponds. These days, however, fresh water ecosystems are very much threatened by their depletion and pollution. Moreover, many of the waterbodies or aquatic ecosystems of Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory are shrinking and degrading due to heavy siltation and lot of inflow of inorganic wastes and garbages into these aquatic ecosystems. As such these aquatic ecosystems call for their rehabilitation.The most serious threat to the waterbodies is posed by the deforestation i.e., cutting or felling of forest trees illegally and vehemently, which as a result causes soil erosion. The excessive run-off the rain water along with denuded slope reduces its percolation into soil and sub-soil strata which as a consequence reduces recharging of main water aquifers. It is the main cause or reason why a number of water springs/baulies of Jammu region, especially lying on National Highway from Jammu to Srinagar and those of Kashmir valley have now totally dried up. The displacement of top soil due to soil erosion causes siltation not only in wetlands or wetland ecosystems but also causes premature siltation of the water reservation.Shallowing of Dal and Wular Lakes: Continuous process of siltation aggravated by denudation of catchment area has rendered Dal Lake shallower day by day. The main catchment areas of Dal lake are Dachiga and Telbal, and entire catchment of the Kashmir valley upto Sopore is of the Wular Lakes. Denudation of hills/mountain due to whole-sale deforestation has increased silt flow into the lakes through different tributaries. It has not only reduced size and depth of the lakes but has also eased encroachment by bringing more and more areas a round Wular lake periphery under cultivation.Overgrazing of the catchment is another factor which has caused severe erosion of top soil. Thus, the denudation of hill slops, hardening of soil by overgrazing of the pastures/grasslands and destruction of vegetative cover are responsible for causing excessive runoff and bringing down of the sediments including silt in Dal, Wular and the other lakes.Rehabilitation of Aquatic Ecosystem
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